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How difficult is it to get a jobs working for publications like the WSJ and New Yorker?

I'm a student currently pursuing a career in finance, but writing is a real passion of mine. I'm wondering if any professionals working at large publications like the NYT, New Yorker, or WSJ can tell me a bit more about how many job opportunities currently exist. Additionally, I'd love to hear any details about lifestyle/personal journeys to finding a career in writing. Thank you so much in advance! #journalism #writing #english

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Susan E.’s Answer

I have not attempted to do this yet, so I'm not sure. My question is, why are you aiming for publications that are difficult to get into? Why not get into local or smaller publications first to build up your writing reputation and get experience out in the field?

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Alex’s Answer

The New Yorker and the NYT & WSJ are very steep mountains to climb indeed. That doesn't mean you shouldn't shoot for the stars, but my understanding is that 'who you know' for these pubs is more important than 'what you know.' That said, no matter which publication you're looking to write for, gaining experience and bylines as a writer is Job 1. If you're just starting out, look to your local publications (print and online), blogs and even just Yelp reviews to give yourself experience and have stuff to show prospective employers.

Writing is a tricky thing these days, but it's a mistake to characterize it as a bygone profession because newspapers have struggled so greatly in the digital age. Just think of all the people reading stuff on their phones, their tablets, their laptops and how much content has to be created to satiate that audience. Meanwhile, fewer and fewer people are graduating with English or journalism degrees, so it leaves the door open for decent writers. You may only be able to make $30-$40k as a newspaper journalist but you can parlay that into a job as a content creator for another organization or corporation and make a good living. If writing is your passion, keep at it!

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Kathleen’s Answer

The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and The New Yorker are among many great, top publications and news outlets in the U.S. and around the world. Because of that, jobs at any of these organizations will always be extremely competitive. So, the questions I would ask myself now would include: How can I position myself to be an attractive candidate? What are the backgrounds of individuals that currently work there? And, What is the process that each organization uses to bring in talent?

I have worked twice at CNN (Headline News and CNN International) in my career. In the 10 years between those two roles, CNN’s process for bringing in new talent never changed. Getting your foot in the door for the very first time meant starting at the bottom. This means tour guide or VJ (running the studio camera and TelePrompTer). NBC’s well-known Page program is a similar example. Unless you are coming in at the C-Suite level, or an established reporter/anchor, CNN was known as a huge promoter from within.

Other questions to ask while you are still in school: Do these organizations offer internship programs and, if so, what is the guidance and the process for applying for these coveted positions? (Note that these will be very competitive, too). What are you already doing in school to get experience? Are you writing for the school newspaper or possibly another publication? Maybe working at a campus radio or TV station?

Lastly, do your research. If you are studying finance, are you looking for a high-paying career? Check the salaries for careers in the finance sector - and the salaries for those in business journalism. https://work.chron.com/salaries-business-journalism-2312.html

This advice is the same for anyone wanting to go into any industry. Do your research!

One other often overlooked option: You can work in the finance sector (big banks, Wall Street, etc. ) and write for the external-facing publications that your company publishes for investors, etc. Students often overlook these options, which can also lead to very rewarding careers.

Kathleen recommends the following next steps:

Do your research! What do people earn in these professions? What are the backgrounds of people I admire in these professions? (What steps did they take in their career to get where they are today?) Do the organizations I want to work at have internships? If so, what is the proces to apply, and how do I need to prepare? Lastly, How do people actually get their foot in the door for a job?
Knowing what you now know about the industry and the employers, decide what you need to do to start building your knowledge and experience base. How can you take steps to make yourself an attractive candidate?
Learning isn’t just in school - it should be a lifelong motivation! Technologies are constantly changing the way we do things. Always be curious to know more and learn more. Be a constant Lerner!

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Monica’s Answer

I think you are already on the right track as journalists who really know the subjects they cover, go the furthest. I was a public radio journalist for 20 years but at the start of my career I covered Kenya and Brazil after I got a degree in international relations. I think the WSJ will place a high value on someone coming out of finance - a good example is Michael Lewis. He started in finance but was passionate about writing and eventually made a big career of it. If you do what you love, and you are smart about it, you will be successful.