June 22nd, 2009
More from the “Finding a Job is a Job” Files
By Holly Edgell
Last month I related the story of Ashley Reynolds, a former student of mine who parlayed her Twitter use into a job interview and landed a reporter/anchor position. This week, a May 2009 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism begins her new job as an investigative video journalist at a station in Fort Myers, Florida. Sarah Hollenbeck’s job-hunting story is as fascinating – and instructive – as Ashley’s. It was a true hunt, in that Sarah identified her prey, got it in her sights, and pursued it singlemindedly to a satisfying conclusion.
In order to test her investigative mettle, a newsroom manager at the station (I’ll call him Guy) gave Sarah an assignment: Find out everything you can about me in 48 hours. Sarah was off and running. She interviewed Guy’s wife, ex-wife, high school friends, and former co-workers. She used databases to find his drivers license number, voter registration, marriage licenses, and divorce decree. Meeting her deadline, Sarah emailed Guy a seven-page report with all the information she found. He was impressed (and a bit unnerved), but wanted more.
“You look a little uncomfortable in your live shots,” he said. “You have three days to send me a new DVD with your most recent live shot.”
Sarah used her next reporting shift at KOMU 8 (the NBC station in Columbia that’s owned by the University of Missouri) to remind viewers there was just one more week until the switch to digital television transmission. She used her live shots at five and six p.m. to “show and tell,” with a converter box and interviewed a technician who’s been helping people around the area prepare for the switch. She immediately sent the DVD off to her prospective employer.
Then came the news that’s so common of late: Guy said funds for the position Sarah wanted were frozen. No job. Sarah was – in her words – “bummed all day.” At about seven p.m. (talk about a rollercoaster ride) Guy called her back with much better news. After an emergency budget meeting, the station came up with the money to hire her. Could she get to Fort Myers right away? You bet.
Ashley and Sarah share many qualities and skills that helped them land their jobs. And, they approached their job hunts with determination, professionalism and dedication. As a practical matter, it should be noted they both have online portfolios (otherwise known as e-portfolios) which allow them to update their work samples and shoot everything to prospective employers quickly and easily.
Got an interesting job hunt story? Let’s hear it!