Transferable skills: Why you should major in journalism (and why people should hire you)

One of the primary themes in both books is “transferable skills.” I borrowed this from a former student and editor at the student newspaper I advise here at UW-Oshkosh.

Andy was looking for staff members to fill out the ranks of reporters, designers, photographers and graphic artists, but was coming up short in the journalism department. In an attempt to improve his odds of building a staff, he took his pitch for the paper to a wide array of other departments on campus, telling students in English, sociology, art, poli sci and more that the paper had something to offer them: transferable skills.

In other words, if you can write for a class, we can help make you better at it and therefore make you more marketable. If you can shoot still-life images in a studio for an art class, we can get you opportunities to shoot a wider variety of images and thus make you more marketable. Not everyone bought what he was selling, but we did get a broader swath of people.

Jill Geisler, one of the pros in the Dynamics of News Reporting and Writing, published a piece for the Poynter Institute on why people outside of journalism should hire journalists. At its core are the principles of transferable skills: Journalists can write well, think critically, make deadlines, solve problems and more.

The underlying assumption here is that journalists learned these skills at some level through schooling and experience. Most of the reasons she offers as rationale for hiring journalists also applies to explaining why people should consider journalism as a major and participate in student media opportunities.

Consider this a cheat sheet the next time someone says, “Why are you majoring in journalism?”

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