Wall Street comes to Claflin: Students get insight on top jobs in journalism
Mar 05, 2016
Michelle LaRoche, editor of development for The Wall Street Journal, says, “For journalism, talent rises to the top. If you work hard, and you’re good at what you do, opportunities will come to you.” (Panther photo)
Claflin mass communications students gained insight about what it takes to work for one of the nation’s premier financial publications.
Michelle LaRoche, editor of development for The Wall Street Journal, made no secret of the highly competitive nature of getting a position – or in the case of the Clafin students, internships.
“It is a pretty rigorous selection process,” said LaRoche, who recruits interns from universities around the country and in other countries.
From a field of 2,000 applicants for paid summer reporting positions, 20-25 interns are selected for the 10-week program, she said. Becoming one of the few requires preparation.
“I am looking for experience,” said LaRoche, who urged students to gain that experience and a resume of work through jobs, other internships and working for campus publications. “It is really important that you had a chance to do this job before you come to a place like the Wall Street Journal.”
“For journalism, talent rises to the top. If you work hard, and you’re good at what you do, opportunities will come to you,” LaRoche said.
But opportunity will not come to the careless, she said. While resumes can reveal the strongest candidates, the cover letter for an applicant can be revealing.
“One of the most important things is to have someone read your cover letter,” LaRoche said. Errors are one of the first steps in eliminating candidates.
“You’ve had two months or however long to put your application together, to put your best foot forward, and you submit work that has errors in it?” she said. “What is this person going to do when they are being asked to write a story in 15 minutes on deadline?”
But the winning applicants have more than basic skills.
“We’re looking for people who have the passion,” LaRoche said. “You need to live and breathe this job.”
LaRoche also looks for candidates – for internships and full-time positions – with good interview skills. “You have to be able to talk to people.”
And she wants those who can identify good stories in the vein of present Wall Street Journal reporters. “I work with some of the smartest journalists on the planet,” she said.
Interns are treated just like professionals and are expected to perform as such, she said. “They are going to treat you like a reporter.”
LaRoche detailed how she came to a career with the noted publication.
“I have been with the company for 20 years and most of my time has been spent as an editor working for the Dow Jones News Wire,” LaRoche said.
“I went to my state school, University of New Hampshire. I majored in English with a concentration in journalism.” She was an intern at her local newspaper, with the experience convincing her she wanted to pursue journalism instead of law.
She moved to New Jersey and was hired by Dow Jones & Co., which publishes The Wall Street Journal. She moved from entry level through the ranks and into the job of finding the talent to maintain the newspaper’s high standards.
“I met the right people,” she said. “Right place, right time.”
LaRoche’s visit followed Claflin instructor Michael Fairwell working at The Wall Street Journal during summer 2015. Fairwell was awarded one of six Back in the Newsroom Fellowships through the International Center for Journalists.
Back in the Newsroom is a program that brings in professors from historically black colleges and universities to spend a summer working in digitally advanced U.S. news organizations. The internship enables them to see the skills needed for students to succeed in today’s newsrooms and helps them revise curricula and teaching methods to help students get internships and jobs. The ultimate goal is to improve newsroom diversity.