Tips for the Writing Majors

July 2, 2015 in Academics, Alive Campus

Choosing the right major is probably the most essential part of college. Some students immediately know what they want to study, while some may switch it around 10 times before finally being sure of what they want to do. Either way is completely okay as long as you eventually find your track. I am currently an Editing, Writing, and Media major at the Florida State University, preparing to enter my senior year. After being a part of the major for 3 years, it’s safe to say that there are both pros and cons to the major, just like any other. I chose to study this during my college application process when I was a senior in high school, and never even thought to switch over to another major the past three years. Fortunately, it’s something that I’ve always been set on studying.

The major itself is fundamentally for those who want to go into some form of publishing, whether that’s with magazines, digital websites, etc. Internships that several students experience at FSU are usually within publishing houses, and it’s actually required that we have at least one internship that we receive school credit for prior to graduation if we choose to study EWM. My suggestion is to do an office internship in addition to a digital internship so you can experience both and see what works best for you.

The major is not necessarily difficult like that of organic chemistry, but it’s extremely time consuming since it’s mostly all papers and intricate digital projects that involve programs like Photoshop and InDesign. The several assignments are essentially what your grades are based on as opposed to tests like that of most majors. The positive aspect is that you don’t have to stress out over one simple test affecting your grade, but this can also be a good or a bad thing depending on how good a test taker you are. The most important thing to remember is to not pile yourself with all writing classes in one semester, or you will be swamped every night writing some type of paper or reading 300 pages a night. Spread it out and take your electives as you’re doing your major classes each semester. By doing so, you have at least one class that doesn’t involve so many time-consuming assignments.

There will always be classes in each major that seem pointless, and EWM is no different. I’ve had very helpful ones that improved my writing and digital skills drastically, but I’ve also had history of writing classes that weren’t very beneficial to what I plan to do in life. Unfortunately, if it’s required within the major in order to graduate, it has to be completed. The major also requires a minor to go alongside it since it’s it does not take up an abundance of credits, so some students will even choose to double major. I chose the route to have two separate minors- Italian and Communications, since I wanted to study both and have variety of areas of study to include on my resume. It’s also important to note that the major requires you take three years of one language. My suggestion is to stick to languages like Italian or Spanish, unless you’re passionate about learning the more difficult ones like French or Chinese.

What I personally like about this unique major at FSU is that it’s not exactly Journalism. It strictly focuses on writing and digital work within the media, while Journalism is generally broader in that it includes radio and television as well. Editing, Writing, and Media does not. If you want to go into professions like reporting or television, then Communications is probably the better option. The two are certainly different from one another, so it’s something to keep in mind if you specifically are interested in writing and publishing.

In the end, I’d say that EWM is the perfect major for what I plan to do in regards to my dream profession. I currently have an internship at a major publishing house in NYC, in which I am receiving school credit. Remember that it’s not unusual to change your major several times before settling. It’s just another part of the whole college process!

Choosing a Major

Choosing a Major

Want an iPad? Take this class at UMaine!

November 1, 2014 in Academics, Alive Campus, Career, Colleges

UMaine iPad

The University of Maine is one of the best colleges in the state with innovation and integrating technology into the classroom. With the communications and journalism department here at UMaine, there has been an emphasis to be a leader in these categories. Here are some of the coolest classes to take:

Multimedia production – Who doesn’t want an iPad for a semester? Of course every student does. In multimedia production the integration of the iPad has really been a game changer for the entire structure of the class. Before, students would have to check out  cameras, audio equipment, etc. because there wasn’t one device that could do it all. The CMJ department purchased an iPad for each student to use in the class and it’s a great experience. Want to edit some of your audio interview right away? You can do just that with Garageband. This only helps students because mobile journalism is becoming even more prevalent and building this experience, while creating skills using different programs will only help you when looking for jobs. Even though this is a required journalism class, you will enjoy yourself while taking this class because you can also use the iPad in your free time. For four months you receive a iPad, who wouldn’t want that?

Opinion writing: the blog age – Interested in sports, fashion, or technology? You can write all about these topics or any others you have interest in while taking this class. Learn how to build a WordPress site and manage posts are great skills to have because WordPress is becoming extremely popular to use for many sites. It teaches the students to really go in depth with these topics, because by the end of the semester each student has to have roughly 40 posts. It also simulates a beat that reporters have to cover, which is a great learning experience. The opportunity for students to write about something for an entire semester that interests them will really produce some quality content. That content can than be used to show employers your work that you have done while in school.

Media ethics –  Some may be reading this and thinking how is this class interesting seems like it would be a snooze fest? Well, it was actually the opposite. Many of the issues that were discussed in this capstone class were extremely engaging and recent which helped students relate to the topic matter. After discussing these issues it is great for your career because then you can think about these ethical issues in every situation that you may be in. This will become second nature for some and will help you solve and manage huge ethical dilemmas that may be problematic for you in the future.

Sports in journalism – Probably one of the coolest classes that the University offers. Each student was issued a college football team at the beginning of the year and to help some students that have used social media each student had to tweet about their team a few times a week. Social media is a huge part of journalism and helping promote your work. Great class that was fun to take and learned a lot of techniques that can be used in writing sports stories.

Those are some great classes at the University of Maine, if you are looking at becoming a journalism major make sure you have these on your wishlist!

Future journalism major? Here are some tips for you!

October 17, 2014 in Academics, Career, Colleges



Unfortunately journalism receives a bad reputation when you tell people that it is the major you chose. You receive the comments like, “oh, really? That’s interesting, good luck with that.” It’s really frustrating because people associate journalism with newspapers. The profession of journalism isn’t dying it’s one of the mediums that journalism is produced on. So, for all of you potential journalism majors please keep that in mind. There are mediums out there that aren’t dying and the profession of journalism isn’t dying, just changing.

Here are some tips for you to do while you are in college to receive the most out of your education:

  • Begin networking – Starting early is not a bad thing at all. The more you begin to connect with people and get your name out there, the better. Make a name for yourself and establish contacts. By doing this, employers will recognize your name and doors will be open for internships and potential jobs.
  • Get involved – Find some type of campus media to get involved in. Whether it is print, broadcast or web it is a great idea to dip your toes into the media while in school. The sooner the better because building that experience will be incredibly valuable when applying for jobs in the future. You will have proof to future employers either by audio packages or paper clips that can show off your work.
  • Build strong relationships with faculty – Many of your professors in journalism classes have worked in the media before. They are extremely valuable to your success in the future because they have established connections during their careers that can help jump start yours. By giving your best effort in class and showing that you are a reliable student it will give a good impression to your professors about what type of worker you will potentially be. The chances of that professor will talk highly of you to an old co-worker.
  • Do well in your classes – Don’t settle for sub par grades because it will kill your GPA, by achieving a GPA above a 3.0 in all your classes and a 3.25 in all communication classes you will be eligible for membership in the National Honor Society for Communications Lambda Pi Eta. This is a great organization to be a part of and it will look really good on your resume.
  • Be passionate about your work – While writing stories, covering events or broadcasting be passionate about your story. By showing your passion in your work the audience will be more engaged in your story. By reading mundane boring parts of a story, you will lose your audience.

Don’t listen to the outside noise about the dying profession of journalism and that you picked a terrible major. There is plenty of hope out there for you. Whether it is through web based media, broadcast or the next great medium, journalism is not dying. Be active and try new things to tell your story to your audience because it could be something that could start a transformation throughout the media world.

Internships will separate you from the rest!

October 11, 2014 in Alive Campus, Career, Colleges

Internships are a way that students can set themselves apart from their peers. It will show future employers that you have had experience in a professional setting. Internships are also the perfect opportunity for students to truly find out what type of career they want to pursue. Thankfully, the University of Maine has a requirement for students to fulfill a semester long internship program of their choosing. Here are some tips that will help you during your internship that will leave a lasting impression.

Some tips for internships:

  • Always show up on time – being on time and early is always a good way to show your employer that you are dedicated to showing up to work. Telling them that you are a hard worker in a job interview is one thing, but actually proving it to them during your internship is much more valuable.
  • Be reliable – If you are asked work on a specific task or come in at a special time it needs to be your first priority. Having an internship is also all about making a positive name for yourself so that it could be potentially used as references for your next job.
  • Establish contacts – Unfortunately it isn’t always about what you know but who you know. Contacts are valuable in helping you find a job and getting your foot in the door. Put yourself out there by trying to meet everyone at your internship. You never know who they know and what type of impression that you can make on them. Establishing a strong network of communications will be tremendously valuable for future jobs that you apply to.
  • Take the initiative – Be the go-getter that sets out to do more than what is asked of you. If you are average and do the bare minimum during your internships, employers won’t view you as a valuable asset to the team. Stick out from the rest, make yourself available, volunteer for extra tasks. Anyway that you can make yourself stand out from the rest will benefit you in the long run.
  • Pay attention to details – Overlooking small details can hurt you in determining your job performance. Employers want to see how detail oriented you are and if you can impress them with your attention to details then that is one advantage that you have on your competitors. Double check your work and be active in reviewing all possible errors.

At the University of Maine’s journalism department it is a requirement for all students to complete an internship program. This is a great opportunity for students to network with local media from around the surrounding towns and cities. Not only will it familiarize students with working in a professional setting but it gives students an advantage over other programs that don’t have this requirement built into their curriculum. For many that have participated in the internship program they have impressed newspapers, television stations and other companies so much that they end up landing a job where they interned. You never know what opportunities may open up if you impress your boss. Keep striving to be great everyday during your internship and never take a day off.

Buzzfeed Giving Life Advice: Good or Trash?

August 15, 2014 in Alive Campus, Reviews, Tech

Buzzfeed, the content megaprovider

The Internet is polluted – not just with ads, pop-ups, and porn, but with self-entitled authors of articles for websites that believe they know you well enough to help you better your life. 33 Tips to Trick your Man into Loving You, 42 Reasons you need to go to the Gym Today, 10 Life Hacks for Ultimate Wins (what the hell does that even mean?) It’s all the same. It’s some author, ahem, excuse me, “journalist,” who is being paid to push out bullshit content so the website gets more hits, and they in turn, make more money. It’s ideally the same principle Marvel Studios has been using for to reign supreme over the box office every time they release a new movie. They know it’s a money vehicle, so who cares about the quality of the movie? Someone will buy a ticket.

The good about Buzzfeed:
Buzzfeed is force to be reckoned with; fan, enemy, or unaffected, it is an undeniable fact. I am just as bad as the next person, rolling my eyes at how dumb the articles are, yet continuing to read. Why do we do it? It’s easy and it’s mindless. After a hard workday or an 8-page thesis paper, do you want to read a hard-hitting article on the pro’s and con’s on the Pet and Women Safety Act of 2014? No, you want to look at pictures of food or cute pets until you decide it’s time to heat up that Hot Pocket for dinner. The worst part about Buzzfeed’s success is that it has happened because we (where “we” is mostly college-aged kids) let it happen.

“Journalism” at it’s finest

The bad about Buzzfeed
Buzzfeed is a content website, first and foremost. The website definitely has an agena – no way around that, but they want to provide the content, mostly. The bigger reaction they can get from an audience, whether it is positive or negative, is the goal. Just last week, Buzzfeed published 3 different stories regarding a CBS Today interview with Seth Meyers. Three. Why wouldn’t all 3 topics be included in one article? Because a Seth Meyers fan will click on all three, and they’ll get more site hits. When Beyoncé dropped her surprise album back in December, they dedicated a whole post to the “Internet’s Reactions” to her album. The content was completely lifted from social media users. Yes, the users were credited, but the staff didn’t have to do any work to create the post.

In their famous countdown-based life posts, they are guilty of generalizing their audience. Implying that all college students look for the same experience while at school. Just follow these 30 steps, and your college career will be perfect. Except for the million different routes you can take that their “life posts” don’t account for. This causes a large uprise in the comments section, sharing on social media that causes more hits, and more money in the content monster’s pocket.

I’m not saying you should abandon Buzzfeed. I’m not going to. It’s entertaining. But when something is entertaining, that doesn’t mean it is of high quality. It is mindless, it is trash, and it a monster website that isn’t going anywhere any time soon. I hope they enjoyed their free publicity!