Dream Job?

by Maggie Mullikin, Assistant Coordinator iMedia

What is a dream job?  There are so many ways to answer that question.  Is it a short commute?  Waking up excited to go to your office each day?  Working with people?  Always learning?

For Steve Earley, a 2010 iMedia graduate, the answer is easy, The Baltimore Sun!

Steve is a Community Coordinator and part of the Baltimore Sun’s audience engagement team.  As he explained to me, within the past couple of years the paper officially changed its name to, The Baltimore Sun.  In part, to reflect a renewed local focus and the paper is quite intent on maintaining its brand identity.

I was lucky enough to meet Steve at the paper late last year.  The pride and joy he took in his new surroundings was palpable.  We toured his office, I met his coworkers, and we discussed the current iMedia class.

I asked Steve about the best career advice he could give.

“Do exactly what this question does: Think about your career (long-term) before you start thinking about jobs (shorter-term). Investing time up front on a career plan will save you time later as you’ll be more efficient in your job search.

I don’t mean you have to know where you’ll be 5, 10, 15 years from now. I mean research, research, research. Before applying to iMeida, I cast a wide net, investigating business school, law school and other communication programs before concluding that 1) I owed it to myself to find a way to stay in the field I’ve loved since high school and 2) a program like iMedia was a way to make that work and at the same time, I could excel and enjoy.”

Looking ahead?  Steve looks back…

“Make the most of the present. Never again will you be this engaged in a single experience with so many bright, talented peers who are just as engaged. You’ll have a happier future knowing you maximized this unique opportunity. You’ll also have a more productive one. You’ve probably studied theories that talk about transforming information into knowledge. The tremendous people, technology, scholarship and inertia of iMedia form one heckuva information-to-knowledge incubator. Spend as much time under the light as you can.“

And clearly, Steve loves his job!

“My favorite part is that I’m living what I wrote about in my iMedia application essay and later in job application cover letters. I wrote about how while this is an uncertain period for journalism; I’d rather be working in the field now than in steadier times. Instead of doing things the way they were always done, I get to help invent the new way of doing things. My roles coordinating The Sun’s community blog network and helping shape The Sun’s mobile strategy, among other responsibilities, give me an opportunity to do just that.

Those are some of the longer-term projects I’ll have a hand in. Day to day I maintain social media accounts, moderate user-generated content, assist with Web production, help source stories with social tools, manage virtual and in-person events and respond to audience feedback.

In addition, I’m expected to continue to do what I did in iMedia and keep up with the latest trends and tools and look for opportunities to apply them to my and others’ work.

I know that’s a lot. That’s another part I really like, actually — the job’s eclectic nature. But, if I had to sum it all up in one sentence, I’d say that I use interactive media to grow The Sun’s audience and improve its journalism.”

“Show up. Ask questions. It’s amazing how far these two simple things can take you. There are countless examples from all areas of life I could give that speak to this. The most applicable here is how I got my current job. I showed up for Ross’ career workshops that drilled into my head the value of informational interviews and then requested and received an informational interview with the supervisor who is now one of my bosses.

The last bit of advice I’ll pass along is borrowed from Paul Wagner, but I think it’s something I’ve always done, even if I never put it into words. And that’s to create a sense of momentum behind yourself. You shouldn’t beg potential employers for an opportunity to become part of their brand; they should be begging you to become part of yours.”

Steve’s final words of wisdom brought a tear to my eye.  I saw the transformation myself from August to May.  I watched him work closely with Paul, and the rest of his cohort, everyday for close to a year and I rarely saw Steve without a notebook in his hand, always at the ready for a potential interview.

He followed his own advice and it paid off.  Is this Steve’s dream job?  Absolutely.  But I can’t help but wonder who is luckier, he or they?

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