By John Ensslin | January 27th, 2008
If you want your SPJ Garden to grow, you have to start planting the seeds now. And then you have to cultivate.
Case in point: Nate Taylor sent me an e-mail recently. Nate is a journalism student in his senior year at the University of Northern Colorado, where he also serves as editor of The Mirror, a student paper.
Last spring, Nate was a winner of the Helen Verba scholarship, which Colorado SPJ awards to a deserving print journalism student. The judges were impressed with the sports writing that Nate had done for the Mirror.
Later, I got to know Nate better after he joined Colorado SPJ while attending our Spring Training journalism conference in Fort Collins. He’s a bright young man and we’re glad he’s a member.
Nate sent me an e-mail recently asking if I knew of any jobs that he could apply to now that he’s getting ready to graduate this spring. In particular, he wondered if I know of anything in the Omaha area.
Jobs at the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post are pretty scarce right now. But despite the cutbacks and consolidation in our profession is undergoing, there are quite a few jobs out there at entry-level papers of the sort that Nate is applying to.
A quick Internet search on sites like JournalismJobs.Com, the Colorado Press Association and the SPJ job bank turned up several postings which I sent along to Nate. This took all of about five minutes.
Plus, in a bit of serendipity, the Denver Press Club agreed to judge the Omaha Press Club’s journalism contest. I e-mailed their president asking him to send Nate some contacts in Omaha, which he agreed to do.
I mention this exchange for a reason that goes to the heart of SPJ’s membership retention efforts.
The greatest amount of turnover in SPJ is our student membership, which currently accounts for about 2,000 of our 9,000 members.
Slowing the departure rate of students as they become young professionals is one of the keys to building SPJ membership in a lasting and significant way.
Nate didn’t say this, but I have a feeling that the little bit of help that SPJ is investing in helping him find a job will be a factor in his decision on whether to take advantage of SPJ’s current deal on post-graduate dues (three years for $72).
Ask yourself this question: is there a student like Nate in your chapter or in a nearby student chapter? Is your chapter doing anything proactive to help these students make the jump into our profession?
A little bit of help in enabling a student to land a job or internship can go a long way in terms of cultivating loyalty to SPJ over the long haul.
I told Nate that my help comes with an ulterior motive. If he does find a job in Omaha, I’m counting on him to help launch a chapter there. We currently have about 17 members in Nebraska, but no formal chapter.
A note to those 17 members, if any of you know of a job opening out there, please let Nate know. He can be reached at email@example.com
SPJ By the numbers
Membership this week: 9,163
Membership one month ago: 9,245
Membership one year ago 9,040