When I was 24 years old, two years removed from graduation, and working in the Interactive Media industry, I went back to the school where I had attended for a special program for alumni. During a question-and-answer period, a student asked me a question.
He wanted to know if I had any advice to help understand and break into the industry. He knew he had to study hard, get a good internship, and all the other “big” things, but wanted to know if there were any “little” things he could do to give him an edge.
After thinking about it for a while, one thing that stuck out as something that really helped me out was really quite simple and obvious, but is something that probably gets missed a lot. I told him to subscribe to and read industry trade magazines.
Any subject you can major in has at least a few magazines geared toward the professionals in that field. Many are free, or have very low subscription prices.
Now, now that you can find them, why would you want to read them? Because they’ll do a better job than any classroom of filling you in on the issues, topics, and innovations that face professionals in your chosen field.
You’ll read about hot skills, new products, human resource trends, industry leaders, and get a much clearer “big picture” view than simple class work can provide. Local or regional trades are particularly helpful when you’re looking for companies in the area to apply to for a job or an internship.
Ok, even if you’re convinced that reading trade magazines are a good supplement to your traditional education, you probably have just one more problem – time. If you’re like most college student, finding the time to read anything is pretty difficult with your busy schedule. Luckily, many industry magazines are made up of short, concise articles without a lot of filler…just the facts. After all, industry professionals are busy folks, too.
I found that carrying around a magazine or two and flipping through them when time permitted – before classes, waiting for the bus, or even during commercials on television allowed me to read far more in a week than I would have imagined.
Checking out your local library or the web should allow you to find out everything you’d need to know about what’s out there, what they cover, and how to subscribe.
Once I started looking for an internship and interviewing for jobs, I realized how helpful it was to have read up on the issues. I was able to carry on intelligent, informed conversations with professors, interviewers, and superiors, which as you can imagine, was a huge help.