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: Stephanie Golson, producer with KING 5 News in Seattle.
I started job searching while a senior at Gonzaga University. I coupled it with an internship at the NBC Affiliate in Spokane hoping that might turn into a job. I was hoping to stay in Spokane so I focused on networking through my professors who’d previously worked at stations I was interested in.
Do you remember what you included in your work sample?
I’ll be honest, I didn’t make a tape for my first job! Since I was looking for producing jobs, the news directors I’d been in contact with just wanted to know that I could write well. So I focused on sending packets of writing samples instead.
How many rejections did you get?
I was extremely lucky, I actually got two offers at the same time from stations in Spokane. Those were the only jobs I had applied for since I was still in school.
Did you have to change anything about your approach to the job search?
Honestly no, I was very fortunate to have a job lined up before graduation.
What happened in your first interview?
My first interview lasted an entire day and was pretty intensive. I started by meeting one-on-one with each of the managers (news director, executive producer, assignment desk, etc), then I did a writing test and stacked a rundown. It was intense but it helped me get an idea of who I’d be working with and what workload I could expect.
Did you ever turn down a job offer? Why?
Yes, because I had two offers to weigh. I’ll admit the first thing I thought about was the money, but what ultimately helped make up my mind was the schedule. One station offered me overnights, the other nightside weekends. I picked the latter.
When did you get an offer? How did it happen?
I got a call from the news director at the CBS affiliate in Spokane who rattled off the numbers; money, contract years, hours, etc. I went in for another meeting and signed a two-year contract.
Looking back, what would you have changed about the process?
As young as I was, I didn’t know how to negotiate. Looking back I would have pushed a little more for concessions on my contract.