Five panel members offered more than just sombre wisdom to students who attended the Media Club of Ottawa’s non-traditional and alternative journalism jobs presentation held at the college on Feb. 4.
They also offered a few laughs.
“I worked for a major who looks like the French-Canadian G.I. Joe,” 2015 graduate Michael Timmermans, communications officer for the Army Run, told the group of 20 attendees.
The alumni — all graduates of the Algonquin journalism program from recent years — gave insight on the jobs they landed on the strength of the media skills they attained in the program.
Panelists emphasized the valuable tools in technology and communication offered by the journalism program that helped secure their jobs in communications, public relations, layout design and broadcast.
“The skill set and how you use it is the same thing. The only difference is in news media the content creates itself. In communications media you create the content,” said Timmermans.
“Even the print versions of newspapers are ending up online one way or another,” said Christina Davies, who creates online and print TV listings for North American newspapers at TV Media, an Orleans-based company that employs four Algonquin journalism graduates.
The computer software skills learned by journalism students, panelists agreed, helped them find opportunities beyond the changing traditional media landscape where web-based products are being adopted into production packages.
Social media posts, media communication and promotional abilities are all skills that cross over into careers outside of the journalism industry.
Connections made through internships and meeting industry professionals has opened doors for graduates in finding their future careers that blend their niche interests with the hard skills they’ve learned.
In fact, careers that incorporate individual passions, interests and hobbies is an important message all presenters emphasized to the audience.
“I get to be in the forefront of all this awesome research, and usually get to know about it before everyone else, which is kind of fun,” said Ottawa Hospital’s Amelia Buchanan, both a 2016 journalism diploma and science degree holder, who now helps publish research articles and press releases for the health facility.
Buchanan referenced her own time spent reporting for the Algonquin Times on the applied research department’s various projects, and how that shaped the opportunity in the industry she works for.
Another panelist who works in radio said journalism education prepared him to be flexible and ready to seize new opportunities.
“Comfort is death,” said 2016 grad Callum Fraser, TSN 1200 reporter, CFRA employee and host of the CKDJ radio show and podcast The Battle of Ontario.
A cautious and intrigued crowd listened as Fraser explained his comment, citing the importance to find a job that continues to develop and innovate your passion.
His former classmate agreed.
“Callum zeroed in on sports. I happen to like beer,” said Patrick Jodoin, the full-time editor of communications for the wildly-successful Vankleek Hill-based Beau’s Brewery.
The skills from the journalism program prepare graduates for the “mixed bag” of tasks they will face every day in their future careers, whether in the journalism or elsewhere, Jodoin added.
Timmermans agreed, offering students a practical sense of where his diploma credentials have helped him when telling the stories of Canadian military members, a key aspect to his job as communications officer for the Army Run fundraiser.
Through the journalism program students are able to find what story content interests them and develop their knowledge in a certain field or industry. The practical opportunities to report on what interests students, helps direct their career aspirations upon graduation.
Connections made through the program are integral in opening doors for graduates both in journalism and other fields, the panelists agreed.
Overall an encouraging tone came from the former students who faced their own insecurities during their time in the program, which has offered them careers they’re proud and passionate about.
One thing rang true for all panelists: everything the journalism program taught them they apply to their careers every day.
“I wake up every day extremely excited and grateful,” said Fraser. “I’m living the dream.”