Job Title: Reporter
Type of Company: I work for a national newspaper
Education: BA in History, Yale and second BA in English, Cambridge
Previous Experience: I have been a reporter for 15 years. Before moving to my current employer, I have worked at two international newspapers.
Job Tasks: I am a reporter for a national newspaper. My job is to find out things that people or companies don't necessarily want anybody to know, but also to spot important trends in the industry that I cover, as well as think more broadly about the subjects I write about so that I can write human interest stories. I also record a weekly podcast about industry trends and contribute shorter pieces to various blogs affiliated with the newspaper. I spend a lot of time talking to people on the phone, asking them to help me understand what's going on and what the conflicts are. When I go out to meet people, I interview them, but also observe them in real-life situations and write about them. My job is undergoing massive change as we face more and more competition from Web sites and social networking sites and even Twitter. We have to write faster, think bigger and figure out better ways to attract readers.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I love my job. I get to meet and talk to so many interesting, thoughtful, super smart people. I see, read and hear things I never would otherwise. And then I get to figure out a clear and entertaining way to convey new ideas and facts to readers. I have very little administrative or busy work in my job, I get to work on my own ideas and I don't do the same thing day in, day out.
Worst parts: Our industry is going through such turmoil that it is not clear I will be able to pursue a career until I am ready to retire. Sometimes it is tiring to be perceived as the bad guy all the time.
Job Tips: It's hard to give great advice since things are changing so quickly. But I would say it's always helpful to have a content area in which you are an expert, like economics, a foreign language, international relations, that can set you apart from everyone else who wants to be a reporter. Keep up with technology, but don't be ruled by it. Read as much as you can in newspapers, magazines, books and on blogs. Figure out what makes you want to read a story and see if you can learn to copy that. Be willing to do something super risky and go abroad, but also be willing to do something that seems mundane or lowly at first, and then excel at it.
Additional Thoughts: I had no idea when I started that my profession would be completely upended by technology and that so many of my colleagues would be out of work. But I also couldn't dream that I would get the job that I currently have, and love. So I know I'm lucky and I think that people who are willing to work very hard early on, and to continue to change and learn and challenge themselves can succeed. I wish I had gone abroad as a journalist before I had kids. And I wish I had been more assertive about doing jobs I wanted to do -- rather than just doing what people told me to do or that I thought were good "stepping stones".
The most important personal qualities for my career are curiosity, stubbornness, healthy skepticism but not cynicism, and a thick skin.
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