Updated January, 2021.
People will tell you that starting a career in broadcasting is incredibly difficult. So you should prepare yourself for a grueling journey, countless rejections, and years of working as a lowly assistant.
And while it’s true that most newcomers start at the bottom, there are far more opportunities to advance and succeed than people realize. The broadcasting and media communications industry is truly vast.
There are many career paths to choose from; many ways to nurture your talents and find your niche. What do you need to get started? You need a good strategy.
Your strategy must include solid broadcasting training, passion and hard work, and a clear plan of action for landing your first job.
We've been training successful broadcasting and media students for years. We've helped hundreds of people go from total newbies to fully employed broadcasting professionals (in a much shorter time frame than you might think).
In this post, we're laying out the most important strategies you can use to follow their lead. Consider this your ultimate guide to breaking into broadcasting as a total beginner.
1.Take stock of your Broadcasting career options
Broadcasting has changed so much over the years. Traditional roles like anchor, reporter, and on-air host have expanded to include so many different positions and career paths.
Social media has opened up tons of new broadcasting jobs. And there are many departments to choose from, depending on your strengths and interests. Possible job titles include:
- Digital Content Producer
- Podcast Host
- Audio Producer
- Sports Broadcaster
- News Reporter
- Investigative Reporter
- International Correspondent
- On-air Host
- Promotions Coordinator
- Video Editor
- Camera Operator
- Media Sales and Marketing Representative
- Programming Director
Do you want to be in front of the camera or behind the scenes? Are you aiming for a TV job, or would you rather work in radio? What about online broadcasting and media communications?
Start by taking stock of your many career options, and consider which part of the industry you’re most excited about.
2. Don’t focus on just one broadcasting skill or role
“In broadcasting, you can’t be a one-trick pony.” Wise words from Winnipeg broadcasting legend and instructor, Bev Edmondson. If you want to succeed in this industry, you need a diversified skillset.
That means learning everything from working a camera and mixing board, to on-air announcing, digital content production, research and copy-writing.
When you’re first breaking into broadcasting, you must be prepared to take any job—even if it’s outside your comfort zone or totally different from the path you envisioned.
Austin Siragusa is a perfect example. When he first started broadcasting training, he was laser-focused on working in radio (and only radio).
But when he started trying out different roles, he discovered a completely different calling and many more career opportunities.
“It's really important to be open-minded and flexible. Be willing to explore different parts of the broadcasting business.
I started in radio, then moved to TV, and now a good chunk of the content I'm creating is for social media. This is absolutely my dream job!
The best advice I can give to someone who’s just starting out? Be open to every opportunity that comes your way. You never know where your career will take you.”
3. Be open to working at small stations
About half of our Broadcasting graduates begin their careers at smaller stations in rural markets, where they can work on-air immediately. Are you looking for a TV anchor or radio host position? Look beyond the big city.
Smaller, rural stations are often a better bet for these types of roles, particularly when you’re new to the business and don’t have much on-air experience.
You may have to relocate or do a long distance commute—but it’s well worth it for a great first job.
4. Reach out to local media companies & television stations
Think you'll graduate from broadcasting training and just wait for the job offers to roll in? Think again! You'll need to be proactive. You must reach out to local publications, media companies, TV and radio stations.
Check your social media contacts to see if you know anyone who works in the industry. Ask about internships, production assistant jobs, or other entry-level roles you would qualify for.
Use your network to find unposted job opportunities and get your foot in the door. Be ready to make some calls and knock on some doors!
5. Create your own content
Employers respect broadcasting newcomers who take the initiative to create their own content. Start a YouTube channel. Create a podcast. Contribute articles to an online publication.
Leverage the power of social media to get your name out there. Start building a portfolio of great content that showcases your talents, and focuses on themes you’re passionate about.
This will also help you during interviews. You can give specific examples of stories you’ve covered, your research process, challenges you’ve dealt with, etc. So, even if you’ve never had a paid gig, you can speak intelligently about projects you've worked on.
You can also use this material to put together a reel or online portfolio, which employers will definitely ask for when you apply for broadcasting jobs.
A good Broadcasting program will include many media projects you can use for your reel or portfolio. But you should continue to add pieces to your collection after you graduate.
6. Clean up your social media accounts
When you become a reporter, anchor, on-air host or media personality, you become a public figure. The station or media company you work for will expect you to act accordingly.
That means watching your conduct in person and online. A good first step is cleaning up your social media accounts. Before you head out on any interviews, go through your accounts and delete anything you wouldn’t want your future boss to see.
Many hiring managers will Google your name, to get more information about your background and personality. Make sure yours comes up clean!
7. Get a broadcasting internship
This is probably the most important piece of advice on this list. If you want to break into broadcasting, getting an internship is your top priority.
Ideally, the broadcasting training program you choose will include an internship. However, even after you complete your training, you may find yourself seeking out another internship at a different television or radio station.
Some internships are paid, others are not. But even if you don’t get paid, an internship is incredibly valuable for making industry connections—and if all goes well, getting a job offer.
Taylor Shold (Associate Producer for the NHL on Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada) says landing a broadcasting internship was the key to his success.
“Internships are a must. I would not have a job in this industry without mine. The foundation for my entire career began during my internship at Hockey Night in Canada. Those first connections led me to other work down the line throughout my career.”
8. Customize your resume, cover letter, reel & portfolio
This is a golden rule in broadcasting. Never send out the same generic application package for every position you apply to. If you want to stand out as a candidate, you must customize your application to fit the position and company.
Take the skills and qualities listed in the job posting, and weave those into your resume and cover letter. Does the posting mention Final Cut/Adobe Premiere? Social media promotion? Experience hosting podcasts? Stellar writing skills?
Take note of the exact skillset they’re looking for, and tailor your application to fit those attributes. And don’t forget to customize your portfolio and/or reel for each job, too.
For example, are you applying for a news job? Be sure to put examples of journalism pieces up front, so the hiring manager sees those first.
Every single application you send out should be tailored to the job you want. It takes extra time, but it's a key strategy for making it through to the interview round.
9. Research each company before your interview
Before you show up for any interview, make sure you do some research on the station or media company.
You should know basic background information, like who their target audience is, what types of stories they cover, and what makes them unique in their market.
Why? Because there are two questions you can bet on being asked at every interview:
1. Why do you want to work here?
2. What questions do you have for us?
You need answers that go beyond the obvious! You need answers that show you’ve done your research and can speak intelligently about the company, its history and mission, and why it's a good match for you.
Start by looking through the company website and social media. Take notes on points of interest and questions you can ask during your interview.
10. Work on your self-presentation & confidence
Want to become an anchor, television reporter, or radio host? You need to bring a certain level of confidence to your broadcasting interviews.
Employers will be looking closely at your personality, charisma, and overall self-presentation. They’ll be wondering whether you can handle the pressure of live shows, and if you have the confidence and poise to hold an audience’s attention.
They'll be wondering if you can deal with the unexpected, ask the tough questions, and think on your feet. Interviews for audience-facing broadcasting jobs are a kind of audition.
The hiring manager isn't just reviewing your credentials on paper. They are assessing your strengths as a performer.
Now, you might be a natural at this already. But many people have to work at things like positive body language, good eye contact, and using a dynamic, confident speaking voice.
Our advice? Do a ton of practice runs and mock interviews with friends and family before you walk into the real deal. Record these trial runs and review the video, so you can really polish your delivery.
And there you have it. Your ultimate guide to breaking into broadcasting and landing your first job in the media business. Still have questions? Interested in broadcasting training?
Read on to learn more about Herzing’s unique Broadcasting and Media Communications program.
Check out Herzing’s Broadcasting & Media Communications program
Herzing College Winnipeg offers a 12-month Broadcasting & Media Communications program. There is no other training quite like it in Manitoba.
Key features of the program:
☑️ Hands-on training in 11 different broadcasting and communications skills (writing, reporting, audio/visual production, on-air announcing, camera operation, sales and marketing, podcasting, YouTube production, social media/online content production, public relations, etc.)
☑️ Intensive 6-week internship at a local station
☑️ Complete a wide variety of hands-on media projects
☑️ Graduate with a professional reel and/or portfolio
☑️ Flexible online training options
☑️ Study with Bev Edmondson, the first female play-by-play hockey announcer in Canada (and all-around broadcasting guru with over 25 years of experience)
Click below to explore the program for yourself. Chat live with an Advisor and learn how to apply. We’re here to help!