AAJA Seattle student member Katelin Chow with AAJA Seattle founder Lori Matsukawa at the 2010 AAJA National Convention in Los Angeles
The following post was written by Katelin Chow. Katelin will be a junior at the University of Washington this fall. A 2010 recipient of the Northwest Journalists of Color Scholarship, Katelin also earned the Founders’ Scholarship, which provided funding for her to attend the 2010 National Convention of AAJA in Los Angeles.
As the airplane carried me from Seattle to Los Angeles for my first AAJA convention, I could feel the strangest sensation bubbling in my stomach. And it wasnâ€™t from the can of ginger ale that I had knocked back. I was getting nervous about the convention. I thought that because I was a student, I might not have much to contribute to the AAJA conversation. Luckily, I was wrong. These eight tips helped me walk away from the convention feeling more excited about my future with journalism than I had ever felt.
Always have business cards and resumes on hand at a conference. Be sure to have your â€œresumeâ€ site finished, as well. If youâ€™re a multimedia journalist, have a demo-reel edited and accessible online. When I was walking through the career fair, I was shocked at how many cards I was handing out. As Mai Hoang tweeted, â€œA good sign you met lots of great people atÂ #aaja? You need to reorder your biz cards. I have 12 left.â€
When networking, be natural. The point of networking is to form lasting relationshipsâ€”not to collect or give as many business cards as possible. Itâ€™s important to understand that almost everybody feels nervous and a little bit awkward when networking, so smile, breathe and let your passion for journalism shine through.
Always ask questions. Youâ€™re a journalist, right? So you might as well let your inquisitive nature take over you at conferences. Asking questions helps show youâ€™re interested, that you care and well, that youâ€™re articulate.
Use social media. Everybody wants to stay connected, so stay in the loop by keeping up with your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and FourSquare accounts. All these networks might seem intimidating and overwhelming at first, but no fear. Even the least technology-inclined (yours truly) are able to spring into action when it comes to social media. Plus, I learned that journalists can use social media to brainstorm and execute stories.
Repetition. If youâ€™ve found a producer, editor or human resources generalist who youâ€™ve bonded with (at the career fair or around the conference), donâ€™t be afraid to say hi to them again. Repetition builds recognition, which leads to them remembering your face. So that after the conference, when you follow up with all the people who were gracious enough to speak with you, youâ€™re not just another e-mail that floods their already-crammed Inbox.
Follow up within three days. Donâ€™t be a slow-poke when it comes to writing thank-you e-mails (or letters)! My mentor, Owen Lei, insisted I send my e-mails out within three days, otherwise anyone who I had spoken with might not remember me. Which brings me to the next pointâ€¦
Find good mentors, and donâ€™t be afraid to seek advice from them. Journalism is a scary business, so itâ€™s important to have people who you can trust to give you solid advice. Youâ€™re not limited to having just one mentorâ€”the more perspectives on your career, the better.
Donâ€™t forget about meeting other students. Itâ€™s easy to feel overwhelmed by the hoards of adults you meet, so make sure you also hang out with students, too. While youâ€™re most likely at the convention to learn more about the journalism industry, remember that your peers are also the future!
UPDATE: The AAJA Convention Blog is on Tumblr. Check it out for regular updates.
The 21st Annual AAJA Convention: Back to the Future begins inÂ Los Angeles this week.
Here’s some tips to help you get the most out of the experience.
A cheap way from LAX to the Convention hotel
Here’s a handy tip from Kevin Leung of the Los Angeles Times:
Consider taking the FlyAway bus to Union Station in downtown and then
taking the Red Line subway to the Renaissance (Hollywood & Highland
station). It’s cheaper ($7 for bus + $1.50 for subway) than taking a
shuttle and probably faster (you are not being driven all over L.A. to
drop off other passengers).
The bus stops are just outside the baggage area. Make sure you take the
one to Union Station; there are separate buses to UCLA, Van Nuys and
Irvine. They run 24 hours.
Check out the highlights of this year’s silent auction. A bottle of champagne from Robin Leach’s collection? Oh yeah!
Get connected with social media
Mark your AAJA Convention posts with the hashtag #aaja.
Here are some Twitter users to follow while you’re at convention:
@aajajcamp â€” J Camp, a multicultural high school journalism workshop, is currently in session through Wednesday at Loyola Marymount University. Athima Chansanchai (@TimaMedia), AAJA Seattle’s National Board Representative, is J Camp trainer this year.
@aajavoices â€” Check out AAJA Voices, the convention’s student news project, directed by AAJA Seattle member and Seattle Times reporter Marian Liu (@marianliu).Â AAJA Seattle student member Peter Sessum (@petersessum) is on this year’s Voices Staff.
The Executive Development Institute presents a 2010 Leadership Together Educational Forum – “Invasion of Social Media – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!” – on Tuesday, June 22, at The Seattle Times.
The event is sponsored in part by the National Association of Asian-American Professionals (NAAAP) and Qwest’s Pacific Asian American Network (PAAN).
Speaker: Charlie Harger, technology and social media reporter, KOMO Newsradio and president, Bohado Media
What: Learn how to take advantage of social media to advance your professional presence, define your professional brand, do business and expand your network. In addition, find out how to repair and change your current image in the virtual world.
When: Tuesday, June 22
5:30 p.m.-6:20 p.m.: Registration and appetizers
6:20 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Educational forum
7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Networking
Where: The Seattle Times, auditorium, 1120 John St, Seattle WA 98109
Parking: Street or after 5 pm, in Seattle Times lot
Cost: FREE! Call or email EDI by June 18th at 425-467-9365 or email@example.com
AAJA student member Peter Sessum, a three-time recipient of Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship who writes for The Daily, documented the event and wrote up 10 Twitter lessons he learned at our AAJA Seattle’s first Innovation Salon:
1. Be yourself. While Twitter can be used for business, it is expression of who you are. Relationships with customers can be built if your Twitter has that personal touch. Better to be loved, or hated, for who you are than to be invisible.
2. Donâ€™t retweet compliments. It comes off as self indulgent and will get you deleted from Becky Selengutâ€™s feed. It is enough that all of the senderâ€™s followers can read it, all of your followers donâ€™t need to as well. Simply reply a thank you and move on.
3. Be mindful of which account you are using. For the professional Twitter, posting a personal Tweet, or replying to a friend, from a business account reflects on the business. Remember to log out and log back in from your personal account.
4. Deleting posts. Recent news proves that deleting can be just as troublesome as the original post. Twitter is in real time and instant gratification. There is a feeling of urgency to post right away or retweet before there is a gap in the posting. In a professional setting, take a moment before posting. It will get read, might as well have it right.
5. Misspellings. Make a correction and move on. Do not be too critical of anotherâ€™s mistakes; it will happen to you too someday.
6. Inflection is lost when typing. A public forum is not the place to give someone new a taste of your sense of humor.
7. Do not argue over twitter. A healthy exchange of ideas is good, shouting matches are not. In online fights there are no winners, only losers.
8. We are all connected in the Twittersphere. Retweets are a good way to link people you donâ€™t know with people you donâ€™t know. Selengutâ€™s beautifully convoluted story that linked up strangers illustrates how to help one another. As a result, you may end up with jam.
9. There is still room for improvement on Twitter. Creative people will find new ways to utilize twitter at 140 words at a time. Limitations do not stifle imagination, they inspire innovation.
10. Most importantly, know when to unplug. Despite all the â€œconnectionsâ€ on Facebook and Twitter, it isnâ€™t real interaction. Sit down with friends and family without phones and computers. Have some real connections, there will be plenty of time to Tweet about it later.