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Millennials have had a rough start when it comes to their overall reputation; they're seen as anything from modern day moochers to the next generation of brilliant entrepreneurs.
As the media formulates its image of millennials, there's one thing most generally agree upon: millennials are used to the fast pace of new technology and have no trouble adapting. That means something else, as well — they're expected to learn and retain a fair amount of information in a short amount of time.
I first encountered Madison Moore when she contacted me for an interview on behalf of philly.com. After following her on LinkedIn, I became amazed at how many professional and academic roles Moore fills – with little evidence of stress. I've seen this trend in digital marketing and content creation among students and recent graduates.
Moore is a graduating senior (May, 2015) at Delaware Valley University (formerly Delaware Valley College) in Doylestown, PA, USA. She will graduate with a BA in Media and Communication. She has received practical experience in news writing and reporting, blogging, social media management and PR and marketing.
I asked her about her effective management of these roles as well as her plans for her future.
Tara M. Clapper: Looking over your LinkedIn profile, I see you have so many roles. Do you feel that this much work is necessary to your success at this point in your career?
Madison Moore: I feel that it’s really hard nowadays to just graduate from college and expect to have a job. You have to work for it. I think it's much more valuable being a multifaceted person having multiple experiences in the field because it gives you more of an advantage when you are applying for the full-time positions. It's been my goal since high school to get as much experience in the field as possible.
I do think the reason I am so successful is because of all of the experiences I have had as a young professional. It started with my very first "real" internship working at The Intelligencer newspaper as a staff writer. From there, it was like a line of dominoes. Having that experience led to bigger and better internships/jobs/freelance gigs. And the hope is that this will lead to a career after graduation (so far I’ve had one major interview for a full-time position!).
TMC: You're part of the first generation of writers whose published work may appear almost entirely online. As a journalist, do you have any lingering nostalgia for print publications?
Something like four years ago, I was applying to colleges with this idea that I would be working for a print publication. People in the business warned me about pursuing a degree in a major that only focused on writing, which is why my degree is media and communication. It's kind of crazy when I think about it, because I was so set on being a reporter for a print publication. I knew things were changing, but I guess I had no idea how fast. I still remember working as a staff writer, a fellow reporter came over to me and made me sign up for Twitter. She said, "This is the future for media." Boy, was she right.
But, while I love this digital world we have entered, I do have some nostalgia for print publications. There's something about walking into a Starbucks and seeing a stack of the local paper, with an article you wrote front and center (and yes that happened to me!). Also with print publications, I think that it was harder for “anyone” to be a reporter, and with everything being digitally published, you don’t have to necessarily wait for a print newspaper to ask you to write a story. You can just go out and get your own blog or freelance for free or maybe even start your own website.
It’s a lot easier to get yourself published, and so it makes it that much harder for a professional like me to get a full-time position. Getting yourself published in these ways isn’t necessarily all that credible though, which is something print had. You know what you’re reading is credible (or so we hope they’re abiding by journalistic standards) just because of what it means to be published in print. I can appreciate this shift because I lived through it, and now, I will be entering the field and experiencing it firsthand.
TMC: Freelancing and existing in a 'gig economy' is increasingly accepted. Would you prefer to have one full-time job and a few small side gigs, or do you enjoy deliberately splitting your time?
MM: I've had gigs all throughout college, probably because no one is going to hire a person full-time when they are also attending school full-time. While my perspective might be different than those who are out of college and have a few small side gigs, from my experiences I can say I would rather have one full-time job.
It's been great having gigs because I am constantly working on something different and it helps me have a diverse portfolio. I think that is a luxury of gigs. Something I learned from having side gigs is time management. For one organization the deadline could be in a week, but that still means I have to do interviews and write up some rough drafts during all the downtime.
Meanwhile, I might be helping a company manage their social media pages, which is sort of an all-day project.
You really need to learn how to set up schedules so everything falls into place and you can produce the best possible content/work for your employer. But, I think you can find that in a full-time job, you just have to find the right company. I think there is more security with a full-time job, especially because some freelance gigs are a one-time deal and then you're back searching for something to pay the bills. There's that convenience factor of a 9-5 job (or whatever it will be).
Plus, something I look for in a full-time job is a company that will help me grow, both as a professional and a person. A lot of the times freelance gigs are remote, and while I enjoy having that opportunity to stay home and avoid traveling to and from a job, I also miss the interaction between a team of employees. The interaction and ability to collaborate is something I really look forward to in a full-time position. Also the ability to add more skills to my “skill tool belt” as I call it, is something I really am looking forward to.
TMC: Where do hope your career will take you in five-to-10 years?
MM: Here’s the hope: I’d love do grow my social media skills and become a social media editor for an online news publication or magazine. Social media, as we see already, is key in how content is shared and traffic analyzed. I think a lot of news outlets are seeing this, and in turn, they are really looking to grow their social media platforms and my hope is I can be that person.
Short term though, I still would love to be a content producer, being able to go out and find stories and interview different people daily to produce unique content. I’ve recently become attracted to writing for video. I think video is going to be the future, especially for some of these online publications. People love this kind of stuff, and I am sure in a few years, it’s going to take off and be how people consume content. You still need someone to write that content, and that’s where I plan on being!
TMC: In digital publishing, do you feel that you are expected to produce content from start to finish rather than excel in one specific area (i.e. write, edit, design, publish and market your own piece)? Do you prefer to manage the entire project or specialize?
MM: I think now it’s expected for a person with my degree to be able to do full media packages from start to finish. There are of course going to be people in the organization that have their strong suits, and they can help make sure the package is ready to be published, but I think you are a more valuable asset if you can do it all.
I would say for some positions it’s expected and for others, it’s helpful to have you on the team. Some companies really encourage their employees to get their hands in every project, and becoming a sort of jack-of-all-trades. I really look forward to finding these companies because I think I have so much still to learn, and I want someone to teach me. I think it also adds to the family-atmosphere of a company. If everyone is working together to produce the best work, you’re going to really feel a sense of belonging.
TMC: How does Delaware Valley University's Media and Communication program prepare you for a career in digital publishing?
MM: At my college, the program combines the changing world of media with the skills employers are looking for in an efficient communicator. A lot of the courses include learning how to edit and shoot video, design and layout for online publications and figuring out how to write for a variety of audiences. My advisor really understood the transition from print to digital, so he in the courses he taught and his mentoring, really helped the students and myself understand what it means to be living through this transition, and the role we play when we enter the working world.
Recently our media lab upgraded and we have iMacs that have programs like Final Cut Pro, Illustrator and Photoshop, as well as other Adobe programs that teach us how to design, layout, and write our own content. It’s made me a bold, tech savvy, media guru and I’m glad to be so well-rounded.
TMC: What's your secret for using the Internet to find fresh ideas to pitch to editors? When you search for a topic or sources for a local publication, what's your process?
MM: There’s a couple different ways I use the Internet to find fresh ideas. Something I do is think about what’s “trending” or I look at some of the top stories in news/fashion/whatever section I am writing for. Then from there, I will try and think of a different angle that would still allow me to cover something that is important, but be unlike any other publication. Most of the time I’ll go onto Twitter and either look at what’s trending or I’ll just look at the organizations/people I am following to see what they are sharing and what they are interested in. And lastly, one of my favorite ways to find stories is to just do some digging. I start by thinking of things that I am interested in and the topics my editor is looking for.
The best example I can think of is when I wrote a story on an ex-burlesque dancer that designed her own cat toys. I needed a story one day and just started thinking of things I would want to write about. I really wanted to do something on cats (I love ‘em) and just started Google searching things that related to that topic. I tried unique cat toys, which led me to a woman who actually lived in the area we covered. Pretty soon, with more research, I found out she had a pretty interesting background, and the next day I was out with a photographer at her house, where she hand designs and creates her own cat toys.
The creative stories and the stories that people are really interested in are the ones where you have to use those journalist skills and just dig. Chances are, if it’s already covered, it’s not that unique. It also helps to really get into the mindset of the consumer. What to people want? Is always something I think about. Take that story on “the dress” — my goodness! It blew up everywhere. Whoever first found that story probably came across it, knew it was what the people wanted to hear, and then ran with it. Everyone else just did a spin off to fit their own readers.
TMC: Do you ever have deliberate 'off the grid' days without phone or internet access? Why or why not?
MM: I get in a lot of trouble with my friends, family, boyfriend, etc. because I am always on my phone. Most of the time though, when it’s quality time or it’s an important event where I need to be tech-free, I’ll keep it away. But, I’m rarely off the grid. I’m constantly reading things on Twitter, updating Instagram, texting so-and-so, etc. I hate feeling like I’m missing out on something. I like to read a current event right when the news organization tweets it or posts it on their page. I’ve just been programmed this way, much like a lot of kids “these days.” The difference with me is, I’m not just texting my friends about who I saw at the mall, I’m staying up to date, in real time, with current events, trends, news, etc. And I think that it’s important. Maybe I should get off the grid though, perhaps that’s why my phone battery barely lasts an hour….
I will add though: the only times I am truly off the grid is when I camp or go to the beach or I am enjoying the outdoors. Chances are, there isn’t really any service so it’s not like I have the choice but I like to think that even if there was, I would choose to just enjoy the silence and the sounds of nature.
TMC: Anything else you'd like to add?
MM: I’m excited for the digital world in which I'm entering. I think there are so many benefits to social media, video and digital publishing. It opens a lot of doors for me personally, as well as other content consumers and creators.
What are your thoughts on recent grads in tech? Please leave your comments below!
Photo by Nicole Melendez
Header image credit: Canva & Picjumbo. Apple, the Apple logo and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Tara M. Clapper is Technical Editor at SEMrush and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture.