As I headed to the 2017 National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ convention in Anaheim, Calif., in September, I kept thinking, “What can I say or do to get noticed by recruiters and professional journalists?” I was chosen to participate in the NAHJ Student Project. With fellow college journalists, we covered the controversy over financial statements of NAHJ’s partner, the California Chicano News Media Association, and we described the effect of Hurricane Harvey on Latino journalists, among other topics. We also wrote reporter profiles.
I met students from Columbia, Syracuse and several California state universities. Everyone participated in a journalism “boot camp.” The presenters gave us a rundown of what recruiters looked for and taught us how to perfect our “elevator pitch.”
CNN correspondent Nick Valencia made a surprise visit and shared his story. His tale of hard work and dedication captivated everyone, but I took special notice when he said that the connections he made at NAHJ conventions were important in his career. I took what he said seriously, and made sure to meet and network with as many journalists as I could. It turns out that introducing yourself is the best way to stand out.
The NAHJ convention in Anaheim was the first I’ve attended, and my mentors from the Student Project were Latinos like myself. They work at several media outlets across the country: The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. They said it is possible to succeed in journalism if we’re passionate about it and dedicate ourselves to it.
The friendships I made with these journalists during my week at NAHJ will last forever. They shared their experiences and offered support even after the convention ended. I will share their kindness with the younger generation and offer similar support to those who come after me.