Mass Comm Week 2020 and a picture of John Hernandez.

Mass Comm Week 2020: John Hernandez and his Advice to Students

By Ally Bolender
News Content Manager

John Hernandez graduated from Texas State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2018.

Since then, he has worked as a fellow and research assistant at Minnesota Public Radio and APM Reports and is most recently the community manager for the Trusted Elections Network at the American Press Institute, which serves to connect journalists with experts and resources in misinformation and election administration to improve the state of election reporting in 2020.

Hernandez provided an abundance of insight and advice for mass communication students when conducting their job search.

“I really, really, really would like for none of you to disqualify yourself from something ahead of time,” said Hernandez. “It’s really important to know that you guys have a lot to offer.”

Hernandez touched on the bias in the world of journalism in which some newsrooms favor elitism and elite schools. However, he encouraged students to not fall into that trap.

Hernandez said that you will miss all opportunities if you disqualify yourself and said that the education you get at Texas State is great in terms of how well-rounded the curriculum is.

He provided examples of times when he wasn’t expecting to get internships and jobs at prestigious organizations, but he took his chance anyway and ended up getting experience with some of the best journalists at renowned organizations.

Newsroom Culture

Hernandez shared that he wasn’t expecting to get his first job out of college at MPR.

“My dream job really became my nightmare job,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez offered transparency regarding the red flags in newsrooms and what students should be looking for in their careers.

“My expectations were sky-high, but what I stepped into, was an extremely dysfunctional organization,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez stressed that students need to do research when looking for jobs. He provided some red flags for students to watch for in newsrooms:
• Little to no planning or no mentorship for your role
• Lack of diversity or unequal treatment toward people of color
• Not being able to meet with your editor
• Seeing reporters get hired not because of merit, but because of family members
• If you’ve felt you were hired because of your skin color
• If the newsroom is causing your mental health to deteriorate
• Bad managers promoted simply because they are good journalists

The Job Search

Hernandez told students to look for all of the opportunities. He said there are many different ways and forms you can practice journalism, whether that be in a newsroom or an office, or as an intern or trainee.

Hernandez said that it’s important to reach out to your professors and the career services on campus for help and advice formulating your cover letters, resume and finding internships and jobs. He also told students to keep their LinkedIn accounts up-to-date and detailed.

In addition, he encouraged students to not limit themselves to jobs in the towns that they are comfortable with. There are stories that need to be told all over the nation and with a little bit of research, students can find a great job reporting in a community that needs them.

“One of the most important things to take away from your time at Texas State is that Texas State does a really good job at giving you a multifaceted set of skills that I don’t see in other journalists,” said Hernandez.

“That’s something that you can definitely talk about in interviews and talk about when talking to managers and networking because you really do get that experience at Texas State and I don’t necessarily see that else ware.”

Featured Image by Ally Bolender

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