Making the Transition from College Student to TV News Reporter

tv news reporter jobs katie hargitt

Adjusting to the real world has been one of the biggest challenges for WTWO TV news reporter Katie Hargitt

Life is a sequence of transitions, some harder than others, but none greater than the shift from being a college student to becoming an employee.

There is safety in numbers while in college – you are surrounded by friends, easily accessible food sources where someone cooks for you and free cable in common areas – it’s a dream scenario (outside of finals and studying).

The real world is different, having the confidence to find you own way can be a struggle for some.

“In school there was always a professor to help lead you in the right direction, or look over your work before you finalized it. In the real world, that is not the case,” says Katie Hargitt, TV News Reporter for WTWO in Terre Haute, Indiana. “Having the confidence to “just do it” has been a big learning curve to adjust to.”

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Hargitt has never lacked for confidence, while in college and trying to make a name for herself in the racing world, Hargitt had an opportunity to job shadow announcer Pat Sullivan at the Kroger Speedfest event. She printed up new business cards, put on her game face and networked with various people in the industry all day long.

The connections forged on that day helped her land a job at WTWO after graduation. Sites like ours introduce you to the opportunities that are out there, but networking, confidence and experience help you actually get the job.

For more on what TV news reporter jobs are really like, here’s Katie Hargitt:

You recently  graduated from Ball State University and almost a immediately landed a TV news reporter job at WTWO in Terre Haute, Indiana – most people struggle landing that first opportunity, what was your approach to job seeking?  

Hargitt: To be honest, I had a lot of help in landing this job.

I always seem to bring up the importance of networking, but that’s really how this business works. Both Vince Welch and Mike King had a huge hand in helping me get hired on at WTWO. Mike King, current voice of IndyCar Radio, was a long time sports anchor in Terre Haute. Vince Welch’s IndyCar spotter is a good friend of some people at the station.

I applied, and with a few good recommendations…here I am!

What was the interview process like? Was it a traditional ‘they ask you questions’ style interview or did you have to show them your skills and perform?

Hargitt: This is where my college experience really helped out – while at Ball State I had worked extensively in front of the camera, produced shows, wrote stories and edited. When it came time to start finding jobs in TV I already had a strong professional demo reel and experiences gained through my class work and various internships.

tv reporter jobs katie hargitt camera

Working in front of the camera often requires working behind the camera. Plan on being versatile if you want to get a TV reporter job

I first heard about the job when I saw someone I interned with was leaving the station. I messaged him through Facebook and he lead me in the right direction to apply for the job.[News Director] Tom McClanahan called me after he spoke with some of my connections. After a few phone calls, e-mails and two meetings I was hired.

I have my own website where I post a lot of my work which is where Tom saw my stories. Our talks mainly consisted of “how soon can you start?”

I’m sure there was great competition, what do you think helped you stand out and separate yourself from everyone else?

Hargitt:  I think the fact that I had done such a variety of things at Ball State helped me stand out from the crowd. Many people enter the workforce expecting to learn on the job, but expectations have changed, employers want you to make a difference almost immediately.

To be a successful reporter you have to write, edit, use social media, post to the web, interact with viewers…and so much more. There’s days where we are crunched for time and I have to help edit or write other stories. It’s all about team work and putting together a good looking show.

The immersive learning program at Ball State really helped prepare me. Of course, I’m still learning on the job, but my education gave me a head start over many others.

It’s pretty clear that if you want TV news reporters jobs, employers are expecting that you are versatile and willing to try anything, and that’s exactly what the telecommunications program and professors at Ball State encourage students to be.

What is a normal day like for you at WTWO?

Hargitt:  I’m the nightside reporter Monday through Thursday. To be honest, it’s an awesome schedule. I get into work around 2 in the afternoon … check e-mails, read up on what’s been going on that day and start making phone calls to set up a story.

Also, a lot of times my producer and I will talk the day before and have an idea of what we want to do the next day, unless there is breaking news of course. Our afternoon news meeting is at 3:15 where we hash out the details of all our stories and I’m out the door by 3:45 at the latest.

I start crafting a story in the field and usually gather a few VOSOTs (definition: VOSOT = video for Voicing Over combined with Sound On Tape – no one really uses tape anymore, but the name has stuck) as well.

tv reporte rjobs katie hargitt racing

Hargitt’s true passion is in racing, but working in news has forced her out of her comfort zone

We try to be back at the station by 8 when we write, edit and post to the web. Within hours the package has to be finished, we are on air at 11, and I’m home by midnight…not bad!

You have a passion for racing – having interned with ESPN on their NASCAR coverage and worked as a pit reporter for IndyCar radio – how are you doing covering news instead of sports?

Hargitt:  I miss racing!  As any race fan knows, the racing history in Terre Haute runs deep. I run into a lot of people in the community that are also involved in racing.

It’s hard to transition to the sad news stories. For example, I had to report on a story where 21 dogs and 2 kids were severely neglected. It’s the story that stands out to me the most that makes me want to get back into sports as soon as possible. But being in news has challenged me to grow my knowledge base and also challenged me as a writer.

In the long run, I think I’ll be glad I had a stint in news.

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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. Laura Succa says:

    It was really nice to see an article like this when I checked my email this morning. I recently graduated from West Chester University of Pa and dream of landing an on-air position with a station in PA. I worked with NBC in high school (2009) and was hoping the experience would help me transition from college and find a job. What they don’t tell you in college is that finding a job, let alone a job that you love is quit a feat.

    • Laura – don’t give up hope! Keep pursuing what you love and understand that it can sometimes be a winding road to get there. As a former News Director I’ll give you this advice – be willing to relocate, be willing to start as a production assistant while working on your reel and still aiming to be on camera, and write write write as much as you can – storytelling sells, that’s what news directors want, the ability to connect with an audience and tell them a story. Keep an eye out on our site, we post tons of production assistant jobs, TV news reporter jobs…you name it! – Brian

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