How I Got the Job: Sharon Ko

Everyone takes a different path to their first media job. Some people land their first choice right out of college. Others need to apply to dozens of places before landing an interview. There’s not a perfect way to get the job you want, but it can help to learn from the experience of others. In our feature “How I Got the Job,” we talk to some of the best people working professionally in media about what they did to get a foot in the door, and what it took to finally sign the contract. This week: Sharon Ko, news reporter at KENS in San Antonio.

1402675627000-KENS-bio-mug-534x712-ko-sharonWhen did you start looking for your first TV job?

Right after I graduated. I worked in retail while I waited for calls back. A few months seemed like forever!

Do you remember what you included on your first tape?

I had variety in my stand-ups. Interactive with a prop, movement in shots, walking and talking etc. The idea was to keep the news director interested to keep watching my tape. News is a business about storytelling but it’s also about your physical appearance/presentation. I made sure I looked good in all of the stand-ups and edited in my best-looking one for the first stand-up.

How many rejections did you get?

I applied to more than 20 places. Only two called me back.

Did you have to change anything about your approach to the job search?

I wanted to stay in Oregon for my first job and luckily, I did. After that, I was stubborn about staying in Oregon but really, that limited me. Here’s what someone told me in the past and it’s true: you’re young and have a whole lot more to live! Don’t limit yourself. So, get over your fears and see where life takes you. For my second job, I applied to stations from California to New York. I got a call from a station in Texas. It was one of the best moves of my life.

What happened in your first interview?

I was nervous but determined to get the job. There are moments during the interview where you want to embellish but stay true to yourself and your skill sets. Honesty is key.

Did you ever turn down a job offer?

Yes. Before I got my second job in Texas, a former co-worker of mine told me his station was hiring a reporter. He told me he would put in a good word for me. The very next day, I got a call from him that his boss wanted to hire me. I turned it down. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Not that I doubt my abilities, but I never once talked to the news director and I was offered the job. It came off as reckless on the station’s end.

What was your experience like during your in-person interview?

The news director definitely intimidated me. The questions were basic … tell me about your internships, what’s your background etc. I wanted to impress him. I’m pretty sure he could see me sweat and hear my voice shake. But dammit! I wanted the job and I’m sure he could tell. Who knows, maybe my nerves worked in my favor.

When did you get an offer? How did it happen?  

I had one offer on the table for my first news job. The station was willing to pay me 3 bucks more per hour, which is huge because you don’t get paid well when you first start out. But for some reason, I felt drawn to another station that I applied to and had yet to receive an official offer (they were going to pay me less). I was honest with that station that I wanted to work for, told them I had an offer, but wanted them. I got the offer the next day and took it.

Looking back, what would you have changed about the process?

Nothing. I believe all my life experiences and choices happened for a reason. I hope that doesn’t come off cheesy. But every challenge along the way has turned out to be a blessing because I learned from all of them. If you truly believe in what you do, that journalism is your calling, then keep that goal in your mind and never, ever stop working hard. Determination and dedication will always win. I promise.

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One thought on “How I Got the Job: Sharon Ko

  1. Pingback: How I Got The Job: The Complete Stories (So Far) | Steven Sandberg

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