STUDENTS WORKING TOWARDS CAREER SUCCESS IN JOURNALISM
From the Classroom to the Workroom: Alexis Grace Defies the Odds
Opportunities can be limited for millions of journalism students when they first graduate from college. Figuring out which markets are the best to work, inexperience, and heavy competition can all deter students entering the workforce, but Alexis Grace defied those odds.
For Alexis Grace, her journey to becoming a digital media analyst for Cox Media is more than extraordinary. Receiving her undergraduate degree in journalism from Clark Atlanta University and her master’s degree in mass communications from Agnes Scott College, Grace used her time in school to prepare for her career through internships and mentorships. She credits former editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Voice, the late Marshall Latimore, as being a mentor to her.
“He really helped shape me into the journalist I was meant to be before he passed,” said Grace.
Through her first internship with CNN, she gained a sense of her purpose and what she wanted to do with a journalism degree.
“I believe my passion for media stems from service,” said Grace. “And making sure that those who don’t have access to the right news or the right materials to watch the news have the options to get access in the best ways possible.”
A huge part of her roles throughout her career have centered around accessibility — a focus point in most companies and products today. This was one of the first lessons she learned during her graduate program at Agnes Scott College, user experience and accessibility through website creation exercises. Also, carrying over what she was learning in her graduate program and combining it with the digital media work she was doing at The Atlanta Voice helped shape her skills which became transferable and attractive.
While most students are seeking jobs after graduation, Grace’s opportunity came directly to her. A Cox Media Group recruiter reached out to her through LinkedIn, reviewed her page and offered Grace a position right before she graduated.
“If anyone who is reading this does not have a LinkedIn account and it’s not up to date, I highly recommend updating your LinkedIn profile and check your messages often,” said Grace.
Like many Atlanta natives, Grace didn’t want to move away from the city to start her career. The connections she’s made, (as a student and after graduating from college) and experience she’s gained in Atlanta made her career progression easier. Grace says transitioning from a smaller team at The Atlanta Voice to a larger team at Cox Media Group is taking some getting used to but she’s confident in her role.
“It is a huge adjustment, something I’m still trying to get used to,” said Grace. “But I do know that all of the things that I did at The Atlanta Voice —having my hands in so many different things and programs— was all transferable for me to work in a corporate environment. So, I understand everyone’s position at Cox Media much more because I at one point had to do that position.”
Mya Grant is a senior journalism student at Georgia State University.
THE 2022 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK JOURNALISTS (NABJ) CONVENTION RECAP:
THREE JOURNALISM STUDENTS TALK ABOUT THEIR NABJ EXPERIENCE
A Renewed Hope and Confidence to Pursue My Passions
Alexia Clark, a rising senior at Georgia State University studying Media Entrepreneurship with a concentration in Journalism, was able to go to the 2022 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) national convention. This year’s NABJ convention and career fair was hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada from August 3rd through August 7th. A real opportunity of a lifetime, Clark received the chance to network with journalists from different broadcasts, newspapers, and magazines. It also featured options for graduating students, upcoming internships, and job opportunities.
Following her arrival, Clark and other students were advised to check in, and although the time difference was a lot, they were able to change and catch a late afternoon workshop on the first day of the conference. Every workshop she visited felt powerful and impactful. Overall, she was extremely grateful to be in the room with such influential powerhouses in the media. For example, the opening ceremony was championed by Kimberly Godwin, Florida A&M University Alumna, and president of ABC News. She gave a speech that highlighted her work of being a voice and paving the way for Black journalists and media personnel.
“Through social investments and collaborations, Disney is empowering youth to pursue their dreams and build their skills to become who they imagined they could be,” said Godwin during her speech.
August 4th, the conference was in full swing. Clark started her day by attending the NBC Universal Student Networking Breakfast. After breakfast was finished, she headed to participate in workshops throughout the day. One of her favorite workshops for that day was the Community Engagement Journalism workshop. The student is inspired by highlighting issues within her respective communities and solutions. The workshop engaged her passions and gave her tools to further connect with the local community that she serves.
Beforehand, she made sure to bring copies of her resume so that she could effectively network with possible recruiters and other professionals. As this was her first NABJ experience, the career fair was a bit overwhelming. She never thought she would be in the rooms she stood in during that week.
Clark is a low-income student born in Fort Myers, Florida and raised in a small town, Arcadia, Florida. She is one of the first in her family to attend a university and has faced a multitude of obstacles along her way. Clark originally started at Florida A&M University and attended for two years until financial hardships caused her to withdraw to save up funds to cover her remaining tuition. With the help of a guided mentor, tenacity, and dedication, she landed a job at AT&T and was quickly promoted, which allowed her to relocate to Atlanta, GA. One year after her relocation, she suffered in a car accident which made her unable to work. She then decided to transfer and continue her education at Georgia State University under the guidance of her longtime mentor, Ashley Coone. Coone guided Clark on the next steps she would need to take to transfer as well as provided her with a scholarship to cover her books for her first semester back.
Nonetheless, her dedication landed her this opportunity to travel to a new city and connect with like-minded professionals. In continuation, at her first round of going through the career fair, she noticed the chatter and bustling conversation of students and young professionals aspiring to land their next role. The first booth that caught her attention was the E.W. Scripps Company. After a brief conversation with a recruiter, she was invited to attend their evening reception which featured Omarion. Connections were also made with notable publications such as the Dallas Morning News, Hearst Corporation and CNN. Although she felt overwhelmed the duration of the time she was there, everyone she spoke to greeted her with warmth and a commitment to aid her in the next steps of her career.
“I went to the career fair out of curiosity and was extremely nervous. The more people I talked to, the more they let me know how impressed they were with my resume and work. I now have a clear goal for my future and career,” said Clark.
The week was packed with workshops, galas, and receptions back-to-back. Clark learned valuable techniques to add to her toolkit as a young media professional, made valuable connections and had a lot of fun. With unrelenting determination, passion and focus, Clark has taken one little step at a time to meet her goals. She looks forward to attending the NABJ national convention in Birmingham, Alabama in 2023, where the gears in her head will continue turning to further develop professionally and personally.
She thanks the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists (AABJ) and AABJ President Craig Allen Brown for the platform which allowed her to embark on this journey. With lots of determination, Clark hopes to make a name for herself in this industry by working hard and becoming well-rounded.
“Seeing people like me achieve in their field makes my dream seem closer and closer. I have renewed hope and confidence for continuing to pursue my passions,” said Clark.
Alexia Clark is a senior journalism student at Georgia State University.
Set Myself Up For Success
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) 2022 Convention in Las Vegas was my first convention and definitely an experience of a lifetime! The convention not only made me realize the type of journalist I want to be, but also showed me the immense pride in being a Black journalist.
Prior to my arrival, I had no idea that I would be attending. Two weeks before the convention, the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists (AABJ) President Craig Allen Brown notified Clark Atlanta University’s NABJ Chapter GroupMe of the AABJ grant. This was my chance to try really hard to attend the conference that so many people had vouched for. I always knew that my attendance would be beneficial; however, I did not have the means to fund my trip. After applying for the grant, Mr. Brown notified me that I was one of four student grantees to attend. This was the beginning of a journey that I will forever hold dear to my heart.
Upon arrival at the convention, I could already sense that something amazing was in the air. The mere thought of being amongst other like-minded journalists and peers brought me immense joy. I had always heard glorious stories of what the convention did for my mentors like Jacque Reid, and my professors Jolene Butt’s Freeman, Summer Jackson Cole, and Christopher Daniel. Witnessing this conference in real time allowed me to really see what the world of journalism could offer.
On the very first day I had a great welcome at the open ceremony. This set the tone for what the rest of the convention would look like and the opportunities I would be presented with. This was the celebration of being in person for the first time, and for celebrating all that NABJ and NAHJ meant to the communities they serve. Here, I was home.
Aside from the joy the conference provided me, the number of opportunities were just as abundant. I met thriving journalist Tiffany Cross, and even previous mentors like Mike Hill. I was even able to interview with companies such as Entertainment Tonight and ABC, which led me to connect with future employers and gain career advice. I was also able to interview Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross, and gain content for my reel. The convention taught me that my Blackness was welcomed in journalistic spaces, and that I can be a representative of the narratives of Black and Brown people everywhere.
This year’s convention is something that I am forever grateful for. I learned so much about how I can improve, set myself up for success, and how voices like mine are needed in this world. I am grateful to AABJ and Craig Allen Brown for sponsoring my trip, allowing me to see a world outside of my own.
India Rice is a junior journalism student at Clark Atlanta University.
My 2022 NABJ Convention Experience
My experience at the 2022 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention is surely an unforgettable experience that I will cherish for years to come. Notably, the summer of 2022 began as an ordinary one, in which I spent most of my days working and trying to save money to go back to school in the fall.
This was the summer of my junior year, so I prioritized searching for internships in the Atlanta area, and by the grace of God, I was granted the opportunity to become a freelance writer for the Atlanta Voice, in which Craig Allen Brown, President of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists (AABJ), formerly served as the managing editor.
In a divine series of events, I filled out an application for the AABJ Grant that was awarding students the lifetime opportunity to take a trip to the NABJ Convention which was being held in Las Vegas Nevada.
Admittedly, my anxiety almost got the best of me as I convinced myself that I wasn’t ready to take this step in my career and told myself that I was just a student, and I would apply next year.
As the pieces began to fall into place, I finally gained the courage to take the leap and before I knew it, I was on a flight to Vegas with three other journalism students who eased my anxiety with reassuring words and support.
Saying that the convention was overwhelming is quite an understatement. Everyday there were panels to attend, people to network with, attractions to see, long walks to take, amazing food and so much more.
One of my most memorable experiences at the convention is when I sat in on a journalistic panel discussing the coverage of a mass shooting in which Lester Holt was a surprise guest. It was incredible.
It was definitely exciting to network and take advantage of the opportunity to speak with so many of my inspirations within the field. I was able to speak with women like Tiffany Cross and Claudia Cruz. It was also exciting to visit the NBC Universal brunch with other student journalists and gain internships.
A very popular part of the convention was the career fair, where I was able to get interviews with the E.D. Scripps Company, Yahoo and Disney. Although I am still a student, they were practical interviewing experiences and many of the companies offered great advice and contact information.
In my personal time I visited the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace, ate at Nobu and the strip, and got 10-dollar tattoos in downtown Vegas with two of the journalists that I came with. Downtown Vegas was so beautiful. It looked a lot like California, and my favorite store there would be Buffalo Exchange.
Overall, my experience at NABJ was informative, inspirational, and unforgettable. I am very thankful to AABJ for the opportunity to grow professionally and allow students, like myself, the opportunity to gain practical experience in the field. I cannot wait for next year’s convention.
Tammia Jacobs is a junior journalism student at Alabama State University.
This issue of the Byline was edited by AABJ VP of Print Tianna Faulkner and The Byline Chair Natalie Mendenhall.