The Best Education for TV Jobs

tv jobs newhouse school syracuse

Want a Job in TV? Attending the Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University is a great choice – but it’s not the only choice

Since list posts are always a big winner, let’s keep this concept simple, if you want a career in television there are a bevy of incredible schools that you can choose from.

These schools have broadcast facilities right on campus, famous alumni, wealthy donors, career centers that would blow your mind and some of the greatest educators of our generation.

To graduate and actually get hired in TV, you should really go to one of the five schools featured below, and if not, just forget it, you’ll spend your entire career in Glendive, Montana covering Moose sightings and water main breaks at the local Western Trails grocery store.

(No offense to the people of Glendive, you just happen to have the smallest Designated Market Area in the nation with just under 4,300 TV households – for comparison, Paducah, Kentucky has 389,000)

The Best Education You Can Get for Careers in TV #tvjobs Click To Tweet

Alright here goes, the best education you can get for TV Jobs:

  1. Northwestern University – Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
  2. Syracuse University – S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication
  3. University of Missouri at Columbia – Missouri School of Journalism
  4. Ohio University – E.W. Scripps School of Journalism
  5. Indiana University, Bloomington – School of Journalism

And there you have it – you can only make it in Television if you go to one of these five fantastic broadcast journalism schools.

Right?

I’m here to tell you, get ready for this…it doesn’t really matter all that much where you go to school.

Don’t misinterpret what I am saying, these are incredible schools and if I had any drive in High School, or any clue who I wanted to be, I may have been dedicated enough to make it in one of these esteemed programs.

But like many 17 year old kids, I wasn’t.

I didn’t have the focus, I wasn’t exactly sure who I wanted to be and so I chose a school I thought fit me best at the time. Jeez, I was 17!

It wasn’t until my sophomore year, after beginning school as a biology and chemistry double major (talk about confused) that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in broadcast journalism.

And I’m not alone.

“I didn’t study television or even communications in any way. I was a political science major with a minor in French,” says Today Show host Willie Geist. “My best advice is not to spend four years learning the technical ins and outs of television. Just get smart in a wide range of areas. It’ll help you in your career more than any TV class.”

While I think there is great value in learning the technical ins and outs of television, the finer points of journalism and emerging digital media technologies, Geist’s point is worth digesting. There is always more than one way to make it in any business, getting hired in TV is no different.

For TV Jobs, It’s More About You Than Your Diploma

When I got my first job in TV at CNN, I was surrounded by numerous people who went to the aforementioned schools, many of which were incredible employees, had great experiences before even leaving campus and felt confident they could do anything in TV.

tv jobs behind the scenes

Working in TV requires unique skills that can’t always be taught in the classroom

There were also co-workers that graduated from those same elite schools who panicked when the red light went on, couldn’t handle breaking news, weren’t strong at multitasking and generally failed to make their way in television.

One of the brightest people I’ve worked with in my entire broadcasting career went to Miami of Ohio. Not Syracuse. Not Missouri. Not Northwestern. Ben Roesthlisberger U.

Heck, I went to the University of Delaware, not exactly on any lists of top 50 broadcast journalism schools.

According to brain research there are three types of learners: Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic (hands-on). It is my personal belief that to succeed in television you have to be a visual/kinesthetic learner. You must be able to see how things will develop visually and be able to take hands-on learning opportunities and turn them into owned skills.

The point – after you graduate, it’s all about you, not your diploma.

After you graduate success is about you, not your diploma #tvjobs Click To Tweet

How to Get TV Jobs and Make Them Work

As I advanced in my TV career, I eventually become in charge of hiring our staff – from anchors and reporters, to production assistants and producers.  Since I had never really hired anyone before, I tapped into my network and asked a simple question: “what do you look for when you hire someone?” As I studied all of their responses, certain patterns and similarities emerged.

Here’s what all of my TV friends said they looked for when hiring:

  1. Skills. What do they know how to use/operate? Can they help us fill a void?
  2. Experience. Where else have they worked? What internships have they done?
  3. Passion. Do they have a will to be great? Can they thrive under pressure?

No one, not one person, said, “I check to see where they went to school.”

Hiring for TV jobs is an art, you are looking for that special something inside someone, a drive that will propel them to achieve, and that is something found inside the individual, not the classroom.

Skills. Experience. Passion. These things get you hired. Not necessarily where you graduated from Click To Tweet

Final Thought

My suggestion is simple, go to the best school that you can get into that isn’t going to burden you with huge college loans and while you are there do as many internships as you possibly can.

That’s where you are going to get the real world experience that will propel you into the workforce.

“I wouldn’t trade my college experience for anything, but I would trade the student loans I was left with,” says Sean Allen, New England Sports Network (NESN) Senior Producer and graduate of Emerson College. “Practical experience is just as important as education if not more. Find the best, most affordable school possible and do as many internships as you can.”

I’d like to make this really clear, so that all of my friends who graduated from Syracuse, Indiana, and Missouri don’t toilet paper my house tonight, if you can get into the top ranked schools, do it, you won’t regret it.

But if you can’t, don’t sweat it… you can still make it big in television.

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.

Comments

  1. i m interested and working in international television media but why?

  2. Hi Brian,

    I’ve already graduated from my four year institution and have a degree in political science and professional background in PR, but I’d like to begin my transition into TV production. I contemplated going back for a Master’s Degree in Media Studies, but also toyed with taking night classes in TV production and weekend internships to build the resume I’d like to be considered for the network job I hope to have one day! Would you be able to advise on the path that seems the most successful?

    Thank you!

    • Don’t go with a Masters – depending on what exactly you want to do in TV production, it’s more important to get technical skills, experience and confidence. Your political science will serve you well with news networks so be sure to leverage that knowledge as part of your employment process. – Brian

  3. Hello Brian,

    Thank you for this article. Similar to Nicole, I graduated with a degree in Public Communication and am toying with the idea of a MA in Television Producing. My goal is to establish a national network for the indigenous people, which currently is America’s most underrepresented and stereotyped population. Like you have mentioned, I have heard that it’s unnecessary for communication grads to pursue a MA. I have great passion for this venture, as well as some skills and experience. However, I feel that there are certain fundamentals I should learn first in order to build an entire network from scratch..

    • True, building a network from scratch would be difficult without some business, production, marketing, sales and journalism skills — but I like your idea, best of luck! Brian

  4. Taira Alabi says:

    Hi Brian! Loved the article! I need your advice… After deciding to pursue broadcast journalism at 18, I have had an internship and shadowed a few news anchors. Due to financial reasons, I have been in and out of school, but recently (I’m now 21) have my last year and a half or so started school and begun planning aggressively to pursue my on air career through internships,networking and social media. However, I currently attend Northwestern’s Night School program and will likely graduate with a degree in Communication. My question is at this point would it still make sense to try to transfer into the Medill program. The night school is a bit cheaper but I’m worried that people may look down on me for going to Northwestern’s Night School. I know you said experience is prime but will hiring managers be turned off by the fact I didn’t go to Medill and just went to Night School at Northwestern. FYI, during the day I plan on getting at least two more internships and building my social media brand. I also have a pretty unique background that I think shows my passion and skills.

    At the cost I’m paying its actually the most cost effective option for me to finish up my degree. Sorry for the super long comment but your advice especially would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for this website, it is such a resource.

    • Medill is a great school and it wouldn’t hurt to go there…but, and I feel very strongly about this, going to Medill is not what will get you hired. You will. If you are talented hungry, passionate and willing to do the dirty work of advancing (i.e. starting in low markets and building your way up year by year) you will do great. Don’t get blinded by the shiny degree from the esteemed university program and just end up largely in debt. Save your money, stick with night school, get experience, build a network, master your craft, nail your demo reel and take a job anywhere you can get it. If a station in Pocatello Idaho is willing to hire you on air, take it, and then move up to the next market and the next until you get where you want to be. Don’t give up. – Brian

  5. Nikki Abrego says:

    Hey Brian,

    My name is Nikki Abrego, I am graduating in May with a degree in television production. I’ve done an internship in entertainment, sports, and in a hard news environment. After those experiences I realized that my passion was where it was most intense. Currently, I am an EP for a news show I run for UMTV, my campus station and my dream/goal is to become a producer for a morning news show. Like GMA, Todayshow, or Fox and Friends. Can you please give me 3 to 5 tips on how to get there through your personal experience? I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you,
    Nikki Abrego

  6. Hi Brian,
    I enjoyed reading your informative article. My daughter has recently visited Accepted Students day at Syracuse University where she has the option to pursue a dual major with Communications at New House School and Political Science Maxwell School. Her concern is the large size of the school compared to Fordham, where she can also pursue a double major in Communications and Political Science. Do you think she will have just as many opportunities if she attends Fordham and has easier access to NYC internships? Any advice is appreciated, as she has to put down a deposit for her school by May 1st. Thank you!

    • This is a very personal choice but since you asked I’ll give you my thoughts… I would lean toward Fordham primarily for the reason you gave. The opportunity to be exposed to the businesses in NYC will be a powerful addition for your daughters resume and her overall experience and confidence when she eventually enters the workforce. Syracuse is a GREAT program, so you can’t go wrong…but I see employers looking for experience more and more and Fordham will provide opportunity to intern or work with the power businesses of NYC. But that’s just me… this is your families decision to make…

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