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The Five Best Career Paths for Journalism Majors, As Told by a Journalism Major

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Journalists sitting in a row with notebooks out

I always knew I wanted to major in something that involved writing. I saw writing as my biggest skill, and, after all, it’s a good idea to choose a major you are good at and enjoy.

Beyond that, I knew journalism school would arm me with valuable skills I could use in many different industries after graduation. Now, two years in, I know I do not want to become a reporter full-time, but I feel confident that the strong and concise writing I have developed throughout undergrad and the experience I have gained interviewing and reporting for stories combine to make me a competitive candidate for almost any public relations, advertising, business or legal field. Knowing that, here are the five best career paths for journalism majors after graduation.

Pursue one of the many, many branches of journalism itself.

Before starting college, I had no idea how many different sectors of journalism existed—when I thought about journalism, I pictured newspapers, period.

Print journalism, in fact, is just one of the many areas of journalism a young graduate could explore. For the editorially gifted, there are magazines of every shape and kind. For the camera lover, there is broadcast journalism—everything from political coverage to sports broadcasting.

Journalism is the most obvious field to go into once you graduate, but if you decide it is not for you, you always have the chance to make a career pivot later on!

Study trends in marketing or digital marketing.

About half my classmates in my major plan to go into marketing once they graduate. This is because many journalism schools also host a marketing certificate or outside division of study that pairs well with a journalism major. Marketing is all about analyzing data to tell a story and then transforming that story into a strategy for whatever business you are in.

Equally important to storytelling are communication skills, which are prioritized in a journalism education. If the intersection of sales and business interests you, marketing might be your dream career.

Go to law school to become a lawyer—or something else!

When you are studying as a journalism major, you are taught how to get the facts of the story out without wasting any excess words—law school students are taught the same while they are preparing to become lawyers.

The interviewing skills you develop in journalism school will serve you well as an attorney and beyond, as law often requires confidence and the ability to effectively communicate with strangers and ask the right questions.

Additionally, law school admissions offices typically aim to admit a diverse group of majors in each class, so being a journalism major may help you stand out among all the political science and pre-law majors.

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Make a pivot to the vast realms of business or finance.

Many journalism majors go on to pursue a Master of Business Administration, which can help kickstart a career pivot into business. One of the major benefits of having studied journalism previously then switching into business is that you have already developed strong interpersonal skills from interviewing and reporting.

You also may already have developed a large network of contacts from all your work, which serves a businessperson well. Outside of actually working in the industry as a ‘business’ or finance employee, there are a range of opportunities journalism/communications majors can pursue within these massive companies that are labeled as financial institutions. For example, each company will house a communications department that functions using employees that are well-versed in the science of communication and public relations.

Beyond that, some companies will also need positions to be filled for social media management, a department that many journalism majors find easy to switch into.

Manage reputations in public relations.

Working in public relations requires you to have strong communication and writing skills, in addition to being confident speaking to strangers and large groups of people. It also requires you to conduct large amounts of research in a short amount of time.

Journalism majors are likely to excel in public relations because they are comfortable completing tasks (stories) on a tight deadline. Working at a public relations firm can often mimic the atmosphere of working in a busy newsroom, which appeals to many former reporters. With the deep research skills and confidence in working on a time crunch, journalists are naturally predisposed to being competent in public relations.

While there are only five possible paths listed here, they are just a few of the many options journalism majors have after graduation. If you go through your undergraduate experience and you decide you do not want to pursue reporting as your career, there are plenty of other ways to utilize the knowledge and skills you learned in college and apply them in a different industry, whether that industry is as similar to journalism or public relations or as different as law or business. The most important thing to remember is to keep your options open and focus on improving the skills you learn in school while you are still there.

Additionally, you should keep an eye out for internships, and try to work in a few different industries before graduation to help you learn about your professional likes and dislikes. Internships are a great way to dip your toes into different areas without having to commit to a full-time job—ten weeks in the summer is just enough time to find out if you enjoy doing whatever it is you are doing. By the time you reach graduation, you will have a solid foundation to move forward and apply for jobs that will form the basis of your career.

While all of this can be very intimidating, nothing is permanent. Explore, engage with your professional and academic environments, and remember that you can always change your mind later on. What you enjoy now may not always be what you enjoy in the future. Do not feel as if your choices need to be set in stone, because they are not! Rely on your education and previous experiences to help guide you through the many, many paths laid out for journalism majors. 

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Author: Jenna Spray

Jenna is a second year journalism student at Northwestern University with a concentration in law. She writes about fitness and relationships for Her Campus Northwestern and works on the corporate section of her school’s most popular magazine, North by Northwestern. In her free time, Jenna likes to sail, go to the gym, and eat pasta with her friends.