1. Name: Brianna Wellen
2. Current job, past jobs: Throughout college I was heavily involved with the student newspaper, eventually becoming editor-in-chief of the publication my senior year. During that time I had an internship with a local news channel in Rockford, Ill., and I wrote for the student magazine. After a brief time as an assistant publisher for an international magazine based in Chicago, The Printed Blog, I’m now an intern with Second City Communications and a freelance writer (barista on the side to pay the bills!).
3. Last school attended; major: I graduated from Columbia College Chicago in May 2012 with a Bachelors in journalism.
4. Did you need to have an internship to help get your jobs?: Almost every job I’ve held and applied for has required some experience in a professional setting, and an internship is the best way to get that experience. At Columbia, credits received from an internship were even requirements to graduate. They are an invaluable experience, and sometimes biting the bullet and taking a free internship is the leg up you need in a competitive hiring environment.
5. Did you contact prospective employers cold? What percentage of your search was conducted online? What were your best and worst interviews?: The Internet has been my main resource to find the opportunities I’ve pursued whether it be through Craigslist, job sites or company sites pointing me in the right direction to the hiring people. I’ve contacted a lot of potential employers cold because you never know what opportunities may be available until you ask. I’ve been lucky enough to have never had a terrible interview: Each time I’ve learned something about myself and exactly what kind of job would be right for me at each point in my life.
6. What is the biggest obstacle you deal with now? School debt; life-work balance; job satisfaction; lack of promotion opportunities; time management?: School debt and looking for a job with the means to keep myself afloat while paying off that debt will always be a looming obstacle. But that being said, I will never shy away from a project or opportunity because it pays little or won’t rid me of debt. I want to have as much experience as possible and I enjoy working on multiple things at once. And as much as I love it, time management ends up becoming my largest obstacle.
7. Who would be your ideal mentor? How have you sought a mentor and how has that person played a role in your career?: While working for my college newspaper, the faculty advisors provided everything I could have hoped for in mentors. They encouraged my work, challenged me daily, supported and guided my career decisions and did all they could to give me the best future opportunities. I still check in with them from time to time and couldn’t possibly thank them enough for the things they’ve helped me achieve!
8. How and where do you network with others in your field?: I was fortunate enough to make a huge number of connections in college that have served me well since. For writers and journalists in particular, the Internet is a great place to communicate with others in your field. Often I’ll network with other writers while I’m out covering the same story they are. There’s nothing like running into people in your field while on the job to make a quick, easy and often very meaningful professional connections.
9. What conferences or networking events do you attend? What would your ideal conference address?: I have in the past attended various college newspaper conferences, and since then I have found myself drawn to networking events that bring together groups of people in person who have previously only known each other on social media. These “tweet up meet ups” are good ways to bring together people already in a community with similar interests, but my ideal conference would bring people from all walks of life together to share their experiences on a universal topic as opposed to something more specified.
10. What helpful advice can you give to someone who wants to follow in your field? Are there specific classes that should be taken in high school or college? What internships should be applied for?: As a writer and in the field of journalism and communications, there is nothing better than real world experience. Whether that comes in the form of an unpaid internship, working for college media or writing and running your own blog, it’s all about consistently getting out there and actually doing it!