I’m always of fan of research that turns conventional “wisdom” on its head, inside out, or makes said wisdom totally irrelevant.
Although it’s from 2005, a study passed along to me by one of my professors remains intriguing.
Lepre & Bleske aimed to identify characteristics that were valued by magazine editors compared to how those same traits were ranked by journalism teachers.
I’m happy to report that everyone agreed on everything, and then they had a picnic lunch of sunshine burgers and rainbow fries.
I’ll take that silence as your disbelief.
In the survey of 149 educators and editors, the researchers queried about elements such as classes taken, clips, work on a student publication, internships, grades and creativity.
Top skills agreed on by both sets of survey participants included:
• writing (#1 for both)
• editing and reporting abilities
More than half of editors didn’t care about media theory, while six in ten educators didn’t put many eggs in the GPA basket. Those attributes were listed as “least important.”
A third of educators listed clips as important, putting it as fifth in the top five, yet clips didn’t even make the editors’ tops list. Just 10 percent of editors mentioned clips as important.
Interpersonal abilities was one of the top five attributes for both groups, but nearly twice as many editors listed it as important. For open-ended questions, editors listed qualities like good attitude, eagerness, passion, creativity and critical thinking.
One editor wrote, “I don’t believe a magazine journalism degree can prepare students for a job. The best preparation is a good, well-rounded education…”
It is obvious that reporting, editing, and above all else, writing skills are the best foundation for an attractive job candidate.
This study should further inform us, as future job seekers, that the best portfolio is not necessarily a ticket in the door.
Passion and enthusiasm are also significant factors.
As BH would say: curiosity, curiosity, curiosity.
If you aren’t curious, switch to law school.