Young professionals look to flood NABJ Career Fair

Nischelle Turner (left), Muna Moushein (center), Kevin Frazier (right) at the CBS Booth taking photos at the 2018 NABJ Convention Career Fair on Thursday, August 1 in Detroit, MI. Photo by Jazmin Goodwin.

By JAY BOYD

NABJ Monitor

DETROIT —Tyrik Reed sat on a bench charging his cellphone while copies of his resume spilled out of a business binder.

Reed, who traveled to the convention in Detroit from Charlotte, was taking a break after making the rounds Wednesday at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair.

It’s been more than five years since Reed graduated from East Carolina University, and he’s hoping to land a job as a TV producer. He pulled together all of his resources to travel to the Motor City this week hoping to make a connection that would allow him to quit his gig at the State Employees Credit Union, where he has worked since 2014.

“This is just my opportunity just to get my name out,” he said, “to meet people, network and hopefully just get my foot in the doorーjust  to get a chance.”

Reed is searching for his first job at a time when the Pew Research Center says employment in the news business is down 23 percent in the past decade, with newsrooms losing 25,000 jobs. The greatest losses are in the newspaper industry, where 45 percent of jobs went away in the same period.

Nevertheless, NABJ’s career fair, one of the largest in the industry, features 56 vendors this year. The career fair opened Wednesday morning and will remain open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday. The event is so large this year that another room had to be added.

During the first two days, people walked through the aisles, bouncing from table to table to talk to professionals.

“It’s been pretty busy today,” said Darrell Lampa, who was recruiting for openings at Major League Baseball. “We had a couple of people waiting in lines to come see us.”

The interests on the floor are varied, from immediate hiring interests to companies looking to build their reputation and gain a base of names to refer to when they do go on the search. Candidates are seeking  internships to full-time jobs, and have come to Detroit with resumes and varying experiences.

“The quality is great,” Lampa said. “The people that we talk to are very focused. They’re very disciplined in what they want to do. They know what they want to do and are coming with the right attitude.”

Employers said they were looking for a wide-range of skills.

Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe said he was looking for candidates who could provide good writing and vast experience.

Not even international waters could keep one North Carolina A&T Aggie from being here for the fair. Arlette Hawkins had in internship in Seville, Spain, studying communication, new media and journalism in Spanish this spring. She returned to her home in Virginia in May, before beginning her internship with Scripps in Fort Myers, Florida.  

“Coming back from overseas, a girl was broke, but fortunately, through the Columbia School of Journalism, I got a scholarship to pay for my transportation, hotel and all the other fees associated with coming,” Hawkins said.

As the fair grew on Thursday, the room became crowded, with lines forming in front of the many booths. People like Reed and Hawkins were trying to get through the lines and make an impression on employers.

“All I can do is just pray,” Reed said, “and hope that everything works out.”

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