Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Your Tuition Dollars Hard At Work: Applying J-School Skills to Real Life

Stephanie Ewing

After reading a Chicago Tribune article about the way undergrads’ parents are more carefully evaluating the job prospects and skills gained from their college-bound children’s degree program, I thought I’d share with you a run-down of the valuable skills you learn in the journalism program and the ways they’re applicable to life outside the classroom.

Skill 1: You learn to harness the amazing powers of coffee — gatorade for journalists — to get through other tasks. Road trips? Cleaning your apartment? Doing your own taxes the night before they’re due? With coffee, everything is still just as possible as it was before you grasped that steaming cup of beautiful goodness, liquid energy reverently in your hands, but it doesn’t feel that way.

Skill 2: You’ll become an info search goddess or god applying your research skills to any question that gets stuck in your brain.

For example, say you’re reading Wikipedia one night and you come across the factoid that your favorite singer-songwriter (Jason Mraz!) has reportedly purchased an organic strawberry farm within minutes of your childhood home.

“Could this be true?” you wonder as you’re already looking up whether or not the property is in the boundaries of Cook or Will County and getting its precise address, so you know which County Assessor’s Office website to visit to get the property’s PIN number in order to find out about any recent changes in ownership, and you realize you’re justifying this craziness to your loved ones by saying silly things like, “it’s not stalking if you’re a reporter!” or “I’m just fact-checking Wikipedia!”

Skill 3: You will be able to utilize your social media skills to expand your own personal networks. Discover the most interesting summer reading recommendations from your friends or get up-to-the-minute updates on what’s going down this weekend in the city.

And when you’re not hard at work chasing down that next news story, you can share pictures of ridiculously cute animals you’ve encountered on your adventures. It’s click candy, right?

Skill 4: You proofread everything at a glance: menus, magazines, posters, ads, newspapers, cable news tickers, dvd menus, books, billboards, business cards, subtitles and closed captioning. Your friends and family may admire this skill, but might not appreciate it so much if you wield your powers against them.

On the other hand, they may also bribe you with offerings of food, beer, or coffee in order to utilize your abilities to polish whatever copy they’ve got cooking. This can be a good deal.

Skill 5: Journalism training is great for wedding planning. My networking, searching, and talking-to-strangers skills have been very valuable in finding a venue, finding food, and the best prices.

That digital journalism class you had to take? Incredibly useful when you’re building a wedding website. Embedding a Google form for RSVPing that will automatically update your guest list spreadsheet every time an invitee responds? Priceless…though I’m sure our professors didn’t expect this specific application of our journalism skills.

Your Tuition Dollars Hard At Work: Applying J-School Skills to Real Life

After reading a Chicago Tribune article about the way undergrads’ parents are more carefully evaluating the job prospects and skills gained from their college-bound children’s degree program, I thought I’d …

Journalism MA Stephanie Ewing, stephanie.ewing@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Graduate Experience