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What The Hell To Do With A Journalism Degree


College graduation, for most, has come and gone.

Many of you may be fortunate enough to have secured a good job, a job you are actually looking forward to going to each day. I want to extend a genuine congratulations!

For the rest of you, your plans may still be up in the air.

It’s not for lack of trying, however. You maintained a 4.0 GPA, participated in a plethora of extracurricular activities and reputable volunteer programs to make your resume shine brighter than the rest. You killed your internships and received stellar letters of recommendation from your professors. You were probably the editor of your college's elite newspaper or literary magazine. Yet, you’re without a job and making plans to sleep on your parent's’ couch since they turned your childhood room into a home office.


While my resume certainly wasn’t as grand as the fictional one described above, I was a diligent student and determined to break into the publishing industry. Yet, I, too, was without a job when I graduated in 2009.

I like to blame the recession for setting fire to my dreams of working at a prominent newspaper or nationally recognized magazine. While I did eventually get a job at a newspaper (after a few months in my childhood room), it was a far cry from a prominent publication. I also landed a job at a magazine, but it sure as hell didn’t boast a national reader base.

To all my fellow “journalists” who graduated with a print journalism or broadcast journalism degree, I don’t have to tell you how those two jobs turned out. I’ll spare you the harrowing, sadly comical stories and instead focus on the career I have now, as a content marketer.

When I went to school, an online degree, well, wasn’t even a degree. I don’t even recall it being offered as a minor.

The Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU did offer an online journalism class, but at that time, online journalism was a fleeting thought for many diehard writers and aspiring journalists. We scoffed when newspapers began tweeting breaking news and how citizen journalists began to rise like White Walkers.


Online journalism and digital marketing seemed like distant, even dubious career paths. However, the internet has awarded me much more of a future than any piece of print journalism. As my boss likes to tell our clients, he “repurposed a newspaper writer and saved her from a dying industry.”

For those of you pursuing a journalism or mass communication degree, I’m not going to set fire to your dreams. But I am going to tell you to be realistic and prepare in case your dream does get extinguished.

Marketing is a viable and lucrative career path. The number of marketing specialists and research analysts are expected to increase by 32% by 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; the national average for other occupations is just 11%. And universities are catching on.

Online Programs & Degrees On The Rise

Although the vast majority of American universities still do not currently offer digital marketing degrees per say, many have added digital marketing programs or certificates to their curriculum. Take advantage by signing up for a social media marketing, SEO or a digital writing course.

If your school does not have digital marketing programs or courses, educate yourself!

Several companies offer online marketing certifications. HubSpot offers free marketing courses and training. Interested in becoming a web designer? Treehouse provides a variety of courses on coding. Want to learn how to write for the web? Visit Lynda and take your pick of online content writing tutorials.

Digital marketing, and marketing in general, will continue to thrive. If you are a journalism major or a writer, don’t feel like you are “selling out” or heading to the “dark side” by accepting an online marketing job. Marketing is a dynamic, powerful, and, according to studies, a secure career choice. 

Today, practically every business requires some form of marketing, whether it’s an in-house team or a partnership with an outside agency. Marketing is one the most important facets of a building a successful business. Effective marketing is the source of increased sales, spreading brand awareness and creating a healthy culture.

So ask yourself, “Which side do I want to be on?” The dark side with a bright future or the other side with no future in sight? What can I say? I'm a former journalist. Cynicism runs through my veins.

Want to put your journalism degree to the digital test? Apply at ROI Online!


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