FIU conference offers career tips for young journalists

The Society of Professional Journalists at Florida International University, in partnership with the FIU-Association of Black Journalists, on Tuesday hosted its third annual media conference called Listen. Learn. Connect.

The conference aimed to help aspiring journalists gain insight into the field through a panel discussion, portfolio workshop, mock interview, and résumé critique with media professionals, including Lorena Estrada of Channel 7, Jenise Fernandez of Channel 10, FIU Associate Professor Neil Reisner, and the Miami Herald’s David Smiley and Matias Ocner.


“I see myself in each and every one of you,” said Estrada during Tuesday’s panel discussion. “It’s so competitive out there.”

Estrada graduated in 2010 alongside Fernandez from FIU’s journalism program.

She began preparing for life after graduation by holding various internships and applying for jobs during her junior year of college.

“I sent dozens of résumés via mail and email,” Estrada said. “I heard back from some, but the one that stuck was Knoxville, Tennessee.”

The Miami native would stay in Tennessee for four years before moving back to South Florida and working for Channel 7.

“Out of our class we are the only two on air right now, just to give you an idea of the competitiveness,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez expressed the importance and difficulty of being a one-woman-band — writing, shooting video and stand-ups, and editing her own packages for the air during her first on-air job in Lafayette, in southwestern Louisiana.

Panelists further expressed the joys and woes of being fresh out of school, and what they wish they’d known back then.

“If I was to graduate today, I would like to know how to produce in radio, video, edit, things of that sort,” Smiley said.

The 2006 graduate told students about the direction of print journalism into digital, and the importance of being able to deliver multimedia.

The discussion ended with the panelists collectively naming three things each journalism student should have before graduating: multimedia, ‘cojones,’ and compassion.

“You will cry during your first job,” Fernandez said. “Edit bays are a good place to hide.”


“Do things that you are having fun with,” said Ocner, 26, Miami Herald intern. “The more passion you put into it, the more you will get out.”

Ocner presented on the importance of an eye-catching and organized online portfolio. He also touched on the importance of looking at others’ portfolios to improve your own.

“Show all of your stuff to professors,” he said. “They’ll help you sharpen your sword.”

Reisner helped student Sam Smith sharpen her sword through a mock interview and résumé critique.

“Each question I’m about to ask has been asked of me during an interview,” Reisner said.

He told students to take deep breaths before answering a question and to always be themselves.

“You can show a little personality, but don’t overdo it,” said Reisner, a former Miami Herald reporter. “My life got better when I started showing myself as I am.”