Today we have another interview with a fantastic guest, Jaleesa Jones. Jaleesa is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in communication studies and minoring in journalism and screenwriting. Jaleesa also serves as president of Her Campus UNC, UNC’s chapter of HerCampus.com, the number one online community for college women. She is also a Collegiate Correspondent for USA TODAY and a sales and marketing intern for the New York Times via ThirdChannel. In her spare time, you can find her snapping or spitting at a poetry slam, people-watching or debating respectability politics on Twitter, @newLEESonlife. "Warning: I have a tendency to rant."
What drew you to communications / journalism as a career path? Were you inspired by anyone in particular?
It may sound counterintuitive but the lack of diversity in journalism really compelled me to pursue a career in the industry. I wasn’t seeing my reality—and the reality of communities of color—reflected in mainstream media and I wanted to be the one to present a counter-narrative. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless as I wanted to offer a platform—or features, if you will—for marginalized voices to speak up.
In your article "Working from the couch: What to know about remote internships" you give readers some great insight into remote internships. How do you feel the online world has improved opportunities for students looking to make an impression on potential employers? What are some things that people should be aware of before accepting a remote internship?
In my opinion, the popularization of virtual internships has offset differential access to internship opportunities and enabled students in smaller markets as well as those from less advantaged backgrounds to gain experience formerly ‘gate-kept’ by their privileged peers. Still, students undertaking remote internships should be wary of opportunities where the compensation doesn’t seem to match the expected output or where the company seems unorganized and their communication, unstructured.
What advice can you give students to help balance the tremendous workload that that comes with attending university, while simultaneously seeking internships to cultivate a skill set for entering today's competitive job market?
Lists, lists, lists! It may seem anal, but micro-managing your schedule really helps to ease the stress of juggling multiple obligations. Personally, I prefer to create a weekly task-list and space out my homework and club obligations, working around scheduled interviews and sales pitches for my internships. I also manage an Excel spreadsheet with internship and fellowship opportunities, complete with the needed application materials and deadlines. Concrete, visual references really help keep you on track, day-by-day, week-by-week and quarter-by-quarter.
What challenges do you feel college and university graduates will face and what do you see as the silver lining?
To quote a Deadspin article my journalism professor recently assigned, “This is a freelance economy now.” While the impermanence of jobs is kind of scary, there is also a certain freedom in that. The nature of the economy is such that we can explore career opportunities, navigate different fields and pick up different skill sets without being judged as flaky.
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned so far in your professional career?
Never give up. You will hear “no” 100 times before you get a “yes”,” but that one “yes” can trigger a domino effect, pushing you further along in your career than you could have ever anticipated.