Many Rutgers students considering journalism as a major sometimes assume the only skill they will learn is news writing, and thus the only career open to them will be working as a journalist and writing full-time for a newspaper or other news publication.
However, this perception is not an accurate reflection of the Journalism and Media Studies major at SC&I, which is designed to prepare its graduates for successful careers in a wide variety of fields.
Through the JMS Program, students obtain skills in communication and public relations, videography, photography, and much more. For example, in the television reporting class taught by Professor of Professional Practice and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Journalism and Media Studies, Steven Miller, students learn about presenting information to the general public, sharing the information to a wide audience, and interviewing and film editing skills. Students learn about website development and design, programming, radio, podcasting, how to spot false news, and ways to ensure they are reading reliable and factual information from reputable sources.
Miller, who also teaches the Introduction to Media course, believes that all students at Rutgers should take at least one journalism course so they understand the rising growth of media pervasiveness, the history of journalism, and the events that have led to the ways the media industry functions today.
“If everyone thinks the media is so pervasive, why not study it to find out the history behind it, if you don’t like it, you can change it,” Miller said. “Media is everywhere, you cannot go anywhere without seeing someone on a media device, so studying this can impact everything.”
Majoring in JMS can also lead students to exciting careers they might never have thought of. For example, Aleisha Flores, who majored in JMS and graduated in May 2019, is enjoying her career as the Marketing Coordinator at Island Spa and Sauna in Edison, N.J.
Her daily responsibilities include handling all advertising contracts, working with the media, managing public relations opportunities, writing a lot of pitches and press releases, management responsibilities, social media, and working with influencers and the spa’s brand ambassadors.
Flores said she learned about Island Spa through her connections in RAPS (Rutgers Association of Philippine Students). One connection she made includes SC&I alumnus Fritz Ramirez, '18, who ended up becoming her future mentor and supervisor at the spa. While she was still at Rutgers, she began working at Island Spa as a Juice Bar Attendant. After she graduated from SC&I, she moved to the business side of the company and landed an unpaid public relations internship. From there she obtained the position of Marketing Coordinator.
Asked what advice she would give students on how to advance in their careers, she said, “Set goals at the company and plan what you want to accomplish. Discuss them and refine them with the higher ups.”
Flores said she learned numerous skills as a JMS major that she applies to her career today. She said she is able to reach out to different media companies with the knowledge of how to speak with them and knowing what they want to see. She learned to think like a journalist, so she knows how to write pitches and news stories and to make short deadlines. Through the Media Ethics and Law class, she learned the different ethical issues within the media field and now knows what is ethical or not.
“If I had not taken the JMS public relations course taught by Part Time Lecturer Elizabeth Fuerst,” Flores said, “I would never have known that I was good at it.” This knowledge lead her to the many PR internships she had as an undergraduate and ultimately to the position she has now.
Flores also advises students to take advantage of everything that SC&I offers. “Opportunities will not show themselves if you don’t try to look for them, and you will see the return on your investment, but you have to make the most of it,” she said.
“Career does not define who you are, you define what your career is,” Miller said. “The Journalism and Media Studies major allows you to do that.”
Flores agrees, and said, “You can customize this major to whatever you want it to be.”