By: Sierra Porter
There are only a few days left before the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) takes over the Detroit, Michigan. The largest black professional journalism conference is back for the 43rd year of networking, recruitment for jobs, workshops, training, and overall black excellence in media. This year’s NABJ convention will take place at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center from Aug.1-5. This year’s theme: driving journalism, technology, and trust.
For students attending the NABJ, the convention could be the start of their careers for emerging media professionals. There will be tons of recruiters from major media outlets like CNN and NBC. When I first attended the conference, I was apprehensive about what to expect. However, I prepared as soon as possible when I was certain I would be attending. Here are my tips if you’re attending NABJ for the first time:
What To Wear
First impressions are everything, so come dressed to impress. For women, a nice pantsuit or skirt set will do the trick. Try laying out your outfit, including shoes and accessories the night before your network. If you’re on a budget, Goodwill and Amazon have professional business attire for great deals. Also consider borrowing a nice blazer, blouse, and skirt from a friend.
For men, a suit and tie is the way to go for the NABJ convention. And remember to bring a belt. A button-up shirt, undershirt, slacks, belt, tie, and suit jacket is what you need to look presentable. Stores such as Men’s Wearhouse, J.Crew, and my favorite, Ross Dress for Less can do wonders for affordable, but professional looks.
It takes more than just looking professional; you need to act the part at the convention. You will be in rooms full of publicists, notable reporters, and possibly your potential boss. At social events, if you’re old enough to drink, be mindful of your limit as well as your attitude and attire. Be respectful to everyone you meet, and do your research beforehand on who is attending the event.
For first-time students, the convention can be overwhelming, so to prepare for the hundreds of workshops is to continuously check NABJConvention.com to see what workshops will be available and who will be speaking. Write down a list of workshops that you would like to attend, research the speakers and prepare possible questions so you can receive information that will be beneficial to the next step in your career.
For student journalists, you need to have business cards. Be sure that your business card includes your name, number, email, title, and social media handles. Also, include a professional website address that showcases your work if you have one. Business cards can be purchased at Vistaprint for as low as $8.50. If you’re feeling creative, Canva is affordable and for you. Just chose a design and you can take your business card to be made at your nearest printing company. And unless you’re pursuing a broadcast career, leave the pictures off of your business cards. You want a clean, but compelling look that captivates recruiters. For example, my business card has a black background, with white font that is legible, and pertinent information telling who I am, my current title and how they can contact me.
When networking, be sure to introduce yourself, your title, the school you attend and expected graduation date. If a professional offers you a business card, email the person that day or message them through LinkedIn, using their app. There are thousands of people at the convention, so you want to make sure they remember you. And don’t forget your résumé. Have a mentor or professor review your résumé to make sure your experience is relevant to the jobs you’re pursuing, and that there are no typos.
Clips and Reels
Broadcast students who are looking for internships or even entry-level positions should have their reels on hard drives, downloaded on your phone, published on YouTube and saved to your email.
Those pursuing print and digital careers should do the same and print some of your best work. Some professionals and recruiters want to look at your pieces right then and there. With that being said, be prepared to take constructive criticism. Afterall, you’re there to learn and grow into a media professional.
Last but not least, have fun! Be sure to attend the 12th annual NABJ Sports Task Force Jam. Proceeds from the jam go toward the task force’s scholarship program. Visit NABJConvention.com for more information on these events and potential ticket prices.
See you guys there.
Sierra Porter is a 2018 graduate of Georgia State University and is an intern at Atlanta-based online magazine, RollingOut.com. She will participate in the NABJ Student Projects at the convention. The Byline is sponsored by Georgia Power, a Southern Company.