Firesheets became interested in journalism because she was told she was good at writing. She has worked at the News & Record since 1998, and has covered everything from features to crime to local school systems.
She gave our class the following tips on how to jump start our own journalism careers:
1. Do multiple internships before graduation.
Firesheets said she had several internships while she was in college, including writing for the Hendersonville Times-News and doing stories for magazines. She said this is an important way to gain hands-on experience and develop relationships that could lead to a job offer after graduation.
2. There is more than one way to get a job.
After Firesheets graduated from college, she applied to work at the News & Record but was turned down several times. Since she was not hired as a full-time reporter, she started doing free-lance work for several magazines and also for the News & Record. Her hard work paid off and she was offered a full-time position at the newspaper even though she was not hired initially.
3. Always be on time or early if you can.
As a novel journalist, you could be working in a new city where roads and places are unfamiliar. Firesheets recommended leaving with plenty of time to get to a meeting, appointment, or interview to ensure that traffic delays or a GPS gone awry would not cause stress or missing an important event.
4. Figure out the information that is most important to your readers.
As a reporter serving the interests of your audience, it is always best to write your story so that it is relatable and relevant to your readers, Firesheets said.
5. To be taken seriously, be smart and be professional.
Since we are young people without the knowledge or experience of seasoned reporters, Firesheets stressed the importance of being prepared for interviews and looking professional. Wearing a suit and doing the background research on a topic or story can help gain respect with sources and lend credibility.
6. Be flexible, you don’t always know what will come up.
With platforms of journalism and news reporting constantly changing, Firesheets said it is vital to be willing to learn new things and adapt to evolving technology.