Following Your Passions

COURTNEY Courtney1

Age: 23
Occupation: Journalist
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD

Tell me about some of your past work experience. 

I got my first real taste of working in the journalism field fall semester my junior year of college when I interned for NBC Washington and worked with their web team under The Scene section. My time with NBC helped me to learn exactly what it takes to work in a newsroom environment covering local news for a major metropolitan area and it gave me insight on what goes into working as a writer for a news site, a reporter who goes out into the field and a news anchor who reports the stories that were gathered from the field. After my internship with NBC Washington, I linked up with a popular D.C. blog called “The Fab Empire,” where I served as their D.C. correspondent who covered any major entertainment and nightlife happenings in the city. With “The Fab Empire,” I was afforded the opportunity to interview several celebrities, cover red-carpet events such as The Bet Honors, and shine the spotlight on local charity events, philanthropists, and young movers and shakers in the D.C. area. After writing for “The Fab Empire” for over two years, I not only grew as a writer and improved my work portfolio, but I also gained wonderful mentors in Joi-Marie McKenzie, the blog’s creator, and Mia Fields-Hall who ran the Baltimore section of the blog. These work experiences then led me to interning with Russell Simmons site Global Grind in the summer of 2012, and then working with companies such as Black Enterprise and Cosmopolitan upon graduation in December 2012.

Courtney and singer Dawn Richards

Courtney and singer Dawn Richards

How did you find all of these great opportunities?

Working as a young journalist in this field has taught me that relationships will take you far and you can’t rely solely on your skills and past internships/work experiences to land you your next job. I’ve spent countless hours sitting behind a computer and applying to multiple jobs that I found on different job websites, but many of my journalism positions have come from a mentor or friend who told me about an opening job that was not advertised online. So with all of that said, be sure to get a mentor in whatever professional field you are interested in and be certain to maintain good relationships with peers because relationships are so important and they are a key component in growing and moving to the next level in your career. Once you land the interview for the job, be sure that you know everything there is to know about the company and if it’s for a journalism job be sure that you show off your writing clips if you’re in print or your reel if you’re in broadcast.

How did you narrow down which career you wanted to pursue?

I always knew that I wanted a career in the media field, but it wasn’t until my last semester sophomore year that I settled on

Courtney and actress Kerry Washington

Courtney and actress Kerry Washington

journalism. Initially going into college, I thought I wanted to major in business because it was considered safe and I knew there were a lot of professionals who worked in fields that weren’t directly related to their majors in college so I figured I’d play it safe and get a degree that could be used for anything and then somehow find my way into the media field. Towards the end of my sophomore year I met with my academic advisor to decide on my major and after talking to her about my interests, career goals and dream job as an editor she convinced me to go with my passion and major in journalism. Her exact words in that meeting were “You might as well go with your passion and be happy because no job or industry can really provide guaranteed security.”

Any tips for ladies who are looking for jobs? Do’s and Don’ts?

My tips for any young women going through the job hunting process is to first apply to the jobs that speak to your interest because your passion for a position will definitely speak through in your cover letter. Secondly, research the companies that you would like to work for and try to get the contact information for their human resources department so you can reach out to someone there and inquire about any opening positions. And lastly, throughout the whole process continue to build your network and reach out to people who have careers you admire and see if they’re open to meet for coffee to discuss how they got their job and see what career advice they have for anyone trying to break into the industry. My biggest DON’T during the whole job hunting process is to never give up. Competition is extremely tough in the job market and you may have to take an in-between job to hold you over until you land your ideal position, but in the meantime stay persistent and continue to go after the career that fulfills you.

Courtney interviewing singer Melanie Fiona

Courtney interviewing singer Melanie Fiona

What are your career goals in the future and how do you intend to attain them?

My future career goal is to just be recognized as a well-respected journalist who is always willing to lend a helping hand to the next generation of writers. I think it’s so important to reach back and help those coming behind you because I’ve been blessed to have people in my corner who reached back and helped push me to the next level so it’s only right that I pay it forward.

Want to connect with Courtney? Check out her instagram and twitter @ClassicalyCourt