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When you’re the newest hire in a newsroom, there’s always a lot to learn: Who does what? How do the systems work? Where’s the coffee, again? It can be overwhelming.
Your boss wants to get as much as possible out of you but what are you getting out of the experience?
To make the most of your first job, it helps to have a plan.
“Talk to everyone,” advises Kathleen Massara, a senior staff editor at The New York Times. When she started out, she quizzed anyone who’d agree to get a coffee. “I would ask them a lot of questions to figure out what people liked and didn’t like about their jobs.” It helped her figure out what kind of career path she wanted and what kind of support she needed to get there.
“Say yes to something that might scare you a little bit,” says Raillan Brooks, who’s also a Times editor. His first job was in a small newsroom where everyone had to do everything. “I was the most junior person so I was having to punch above my weight most of the time. I’m grateful for that experience.”
“Learn to take criticism,” says Amanda Barrett, deputy managing editor at the Associated Press. “You can’t get better unless you can be edited. It’s painful sometimes but you need to get used to it.”
All three agreed at the recent NLGJA national convention that finding a mentor is essential.
“I still call a mentor from my first job,”