Designing myself a website in high school wasn’t just some whimsical experiment I executed in my spare time – I did it solely to get into college.
For two years, I had been broadcasting weekly shows and writing monthly for the school newspaper. With this arsenal of clips stored in my computer’s hard drive, wasn’t I doing what every other student had done to get into an elite journalism school? Not so.
During my freshman year at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, I’ve encountered a handful of upperclassmen journalists who have yet to create their own website.
These are students with a high profile in the newspaper, who’ve written weekly (if not daily) articles since their first or second year.
“Why haven’t you made your own website?” I asked them incredulously. I was met with shrugs; they never really gave me an answer.
Personal branding is all about being a self-advocate. In an age when journalism students are competing for the same jobs, the same internships, it can be tough to land that dream position when every other journalist has learned the same skills.
Writing a news story isn’t rocket science – in fact, a hard-news story functions more like a scientific formula, for those who haven’t taken an introductory journalism course. Plug and chug, as they say. A 30-word lede. A nut graf explanation. Some quotes, here and there, from reputable sources. End with a summary quote, or a call to action.
This systematic style means that just because you can write well doesn’t mean you’ll get, or deserve, the job.
Therefore, creating for yourself an online personal portfolio is crucial in establishing yourself as a marketable journalist. A journalist who takes pride in her work, who cares enough to share her skills with an ever-expanding online audience.
Having a website not only gives you a convenient, transportable portfolio (forget those days of carting around prized articles), but it also gives you a stake in the Internet, as well.
The World Wide Web has become the eyes and ears of the Information Age. Why not embrace it? Buy yourself a domain and give the Internet-trawlers something to talk about with your work. Let your friends and family know what kind of professional experience you’ve been up to in college (or even beyond, when you’ve lost touch and Facebook doesn’t suffice).
A personal website isn’t just a business card addition – it’s an investment in your future.
The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.