Q. I am a junior journalism major now having second thoughts about my degree. What are my prospects of landing a job? Should I switch to PR or something else, even though it might require an extra semester at an expensive college? -PA
A. Don’t panic—yet. You didn’t mention a minor, so I would seriously consider adding a relevant one. At many colleges, you can get credit towards a minor or second major for the journalism classes you’ve already taken. Therefore, you may only need a handful of required courses in PR to achieve a minor. Another good option that might require more hours is to consider a minor in business.
As for job prospects, you won’t likely land a position at The New York Times or The Chicago Tribune, but good writers will always be in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates the current slight decline in traditional journalism jobs is expected to continue, but BLS adds journalism grads can find jobs in closely related fields such as advertising and public relations. In addition, rapidly expanding Web-based businesses and specialized niche publications will continue to grow faster than the rest of the economy. Groupon, Living Social and Amazon hire hundreds of writers who churn out clever copy in fun work environments. Graduates also will find their journalism training helpful in non-media positions such as sales and general management.
DePaul University colleague and journalism professor Jason Martin, PhD., confirms the upside of a journalism degree, even in this bleak economy. “By all indications, the job prospects for young people in journalism are relatively strong,” Jason says. “Entry-level hiring is still strong in a variety of traditional journalism and emerging mass communication organizations. The expansion of opportunities for web-only reporting also is steadily increasing.”
Jason indicates an undergraduate degree in journalism prepares you for key skills in critical thinking, fact gathering, writing and editing that are desirable to any number of employers in a variety of fields. He also suggests that a couple of years of trying a journalism career could put you in an advantageous position if you decide to enroll in graduate school. “Graduate admissions committees typically look favorably on some work experience and the maturity that comes with time away from college.”