Advice on freelancing, digital design, and getting hired at SNDU

The annual SND Workshop is as much for for budding journalists and designers as it is professionals. SND President Rob Schneider says one of his favorite parts of SND conferences is the teaching, mentoring and connections that are made. Thursday was jam-packed with sessions advising students and those who are looking to break into the world of news and design. Here’s a roundup of the day’s sessions.

Steve Dorsey, currently Vice-President at the Austin American-Statesmen, kicked off the day with the question, “What is the ONE THING you wish someone told you when you were in college?”

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 8.49.21 AMHe shared responses from his friends in the industry. And the answers range from Joy Mayer’s advice to “Practice your pitch!” to Darren Sanefski’s “Do whatever you can to get an internship,” to Steve Cavendish’s tip that “nobody cares what you think…” (WHAT!?) Some of the responses are stingingly truthful, but for all of the striving journalists, designers and developers out there, this collection of advice is solid gold. You can download Dorsey’s presentation here.

For educators, journalism is moving so quickly that they sometimes have to learn as they teach. Seth Gitner, multimedia journalist and assistant professor at Newhouse School in Syracuse, talked about the challenges and lessons of teaching his first multimedia reporting class.

The class combined reporting, design, video, and interactivity. Students with different expertise collaborate to create multimedia story packages. For example, story package “CNY32” combined an interactive wipe-off screen, slow-motion videos, and original music to create a package about winter in central New York. The project can be downloaded in the App Store by searching CNY32 Syracuse.

Larry Buchanan, recently hired at The New York Times, covered the ins and outs of navigating the freelance jungle. He highlighted portfolios and connections as key selling points for a freelancer. His motto ,”If you can’t make it, fake it,” got him hired as a freelancer at The New Yorker, pushed him to learn new things and eventually led to more jobs. Larry also covered practical information about money management, accounting, taxes and contracts. The presentation can also be found at

The day wrapped up with a Q&A session with the speakers and the students, followed by a one-on-one portfolio critique. Follow #sndu for updates about student sessions, internships and job opportunities.

About KK Rebecca Lai

is a student at Northwestern University and a 2013 SNDF travel grant recipient.

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