So how can you get yourself into an editorial position?
- Apply. My application is hefty, with multiple sections. I’m sure it takes a few hours to complete. Simply completing the application shows me you really want the job. I’m impressed before I’ve even looked at it.
- Get a good recommendation. Even though every student applying has been in my class for at least a semester, I still ask for input from another teacher. I’m looking for comments like this one: “Susie is very bright, respectful – gets along well with her peers.” To earn a teacher recommendation like this, you need to be like Susie, all the time, in every class. Teachers are always watching you.
- Be willing to take lots of different roles. You might want to be editor-in-chief, but six other students are applying. I’m impressed by the student willing to take a “lesser” position for love of the newspaper, rather than one who will be offended. This year I have a managing editor who didn’t get EIC because others had seniority and her skills were best utilized in the role I gave her. I know she was disappointed but she never let it show and she’s impressed me all year with her commitment and dedication. The sting of disappointment hurts, but the respect she’s earned should comfort her forever.
- Be open and honest in your personal statement. I ask applicants to tell me why they think the position they most want is a good fit for them. This essay is the most important piece of the application. I’m looking for passion for writing, design, news, whatever – just show me you really care about what we do. I’m looking for you to think carefully about how we can improve. I’m looking for you to reflect on your time with the publication – what have you learned, what are your strengths and weaknesses. Your ability to know yourself is critical.
- Do your best on the skills test. This part of the application asks students to critique a previous issue and edit an article for style, mechanics and content. Editors MUST be able to provide constructive feedback to their peers and they MUST have an eye for errors of all kind.
- Get involved early. Seniority counts. A student who joins the paper as a junior will have almost no chance of being a top-level editor. A student who joins as a freshman has years to build writing and reporting skills, take on a lower-level editorial position, and move to the top by the time they are a senior.
- Impress me every day. The application is important, but I’m basing most of my decision on how a student has performed in my classroom since they day I met them. Is this student honest, kind to others, a hard worker, able to give and take criticism well? I’m always watching you.