What I Didn’t Learn in Journalism School

By Katie Cray

800px-Flickr_UF-Journalism_and_CommunicationsAs a proud Northeastern University alumnus (one of the best journalist schools, in my opinion), I can honestly say that I learned a lot in the classroom and through the co-op program. However, I didn’t learn everything. As beneficial as the co-op program was, nothing compares to jumping into the workforce without the safety net of returning to class the next semester. Everything is very idealistic and hypothetical when you’re sitting in a lecture, but sitting at your desk pitching your client to a reporter, in real life, is a bit different.

Some classes were more useful than others. History of Journalism? Not so useful. Public Relations and Broadcast Journalism were however useful in that I learned a lot about the industry I was entering. Most of what I learned in college that I’ve taken into the real world has been the experiential things.

Here are a few things that I didn’t learn in journalism school:

  • My last day of class was not really my last day of class. You are always learning in the real world, and you should never stop. I continue to learn new things and new ways to approach different situations.
  • Think differently! Something not always taught in school is the importance of being innovative and on the front lines of new and unique.
  • Social media is the future of PR and marketing, period. Learn it, live it and love it – or you will get left in the past. Some schools reserve social media classes for marketing majors, but it’s so important for all fields to integrate and embrace it.
  • You need to know everyone! Especially in PR, but applicable to all fields, knowing everything is good, but knowing everyone is crucial. New clients, prospective clients, current clients, media – they all need to know you and you need to know them. Building relationships is the core foundation of public relations, and nurturing those relationships will help you throughout your career.

If I could tell myself one thing while I was still in journalism school, it would be this: You know those students in your classes who constantly raise their hands and seem to know all the answers? They don’t. Understanding that you must always be learning and innovating is what creates success.