The 2015 NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair is coming up fast. In order to have a successful convention, you need to be prepared. Below are 10 things you need to do now to be on your game in Minneapolis.
- Buy your plane ticket. The closer you get to the convention date, the more expensive that air fare will be. I bought my Baltimore-Minneapolis ticket in February on Southwest Airlines, and it still cost me $324 roundtrip. NABJ members get a discount at United Airlines. I tweet fare sales regularly at @NABJDigital or @AvQueenBenet. Also set a fare alert on Airfarewatchdog.com to be informed about the lowest fares.
- Business cards. Get them now. Vistaprint has a great selection and you can get 500 for as little as $10. You can even get free cards (minus shipping costs) that sport an ad on the back.
- Resume/online portfolio. Now is the time to tighten up that resume and freshen up or create an online portfolio to impress recruiters at the convention. Need help? Check out the DJTF webinars covering online portfolios and resumes. They’re free to watch, but you must register.
- Find ways to save money. Going to the convention is not cheap, but you can do it and not break the bank. Find folks to share a hotel room at the NABJ Convention Roommate Bureau. If you’re checking a bag, tuck some non-perishable snacks and water. Reach out on NABJ’s listserves and social media channels for ride shares to and from the airport. Check out sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon to find nearby places to eat that are less expensive than the hotel. And search Hotwire and Priceline for nearby hotel deals.
- Look at the convention schedule. Work out a plan on what workshops you want to attend and create a schedule.
- Check out the exhibitors and recruiters (not posted yet, but here’s who attended in 2014). See who will be in Minneapolis and start prioritizing who are the must-see employers on your list.
- Start making a list of people you want to see in Minneapolis. The schedules of those attending the conference are very tight. Start now to create that list of must-see people and map out appointments, interviews and chat times. And consider breakfast meetings, since schedules tend to slip as the day goes by.
- Check your wardrobe. See what clothes fit and what don’t. See what needs to be cleaned or altered. And if you need to buy things, do it now.
- Check your social media profile. Google yourself and see what comes up. Check your Facebook profile and make sure there are no embarrassing photos or posts because potential employers will be checking.
- Hang out with your friends now. The convention is the time to meet new people and grow your network. It is not the time to hang with the same group of people you do at home. As much as you love them, they are not going to get you a job.
The Digital Journalism Task Force will do its annual convention preparation TweetChat in May, which will offer great tips and advice from NABJ veterans. Hope to “see” you there!
Benét J. Wilson is the vice president of education for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force. She also serves on the board of the Online News Association and is the owner/founder of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance writing and social media consulting company.
The NABJ Board of Directors
Denise Clay has an awesome story about NABJ and its out-of-control travel expenses on AllDigitocracy.org. If you care about the association and have ever wondered about its internal workings, you’ll want to read this piece. Here’s an excerpt:
Right now, journalists hoping to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) at its annual convention in Minnesota this summer are shopping for low airfare — and in some cases hotel accommodations — to Minneapolis on discount travel websites.
But it might be a good idea for NABJ executives to start surfing those websites as well, especially if they plan on continuing to rack up skyrocketing travel expenses. At a time when journalism diversity is stagnant at best, a set of expense reports released to NABJ’s membership last month shows that its executive board spent more than $190,000 solely on travel in just two years.
According to the reports, the largest expenditures ($13,116.60 in 2013 and $28,391.24) can be attributed to NABJ President Bob Butler alone.
Read more: What does #NABJ have to show for the nearly $200,000 it’s spent on travel?
Last night’s #wjchat TweetChat was all about media diversity, in honor of the late Dori Maynard of the Maynard Institute. Chatters discussed everything from continuing Dori’s legacy to what diversity in a newsroom looks like. Click here to read a fascinating discussion all about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to media diversity.
- The 2015 Southeast Journalism Conference will be hosted by Georgia State University at its Student*University Center and the Ramada Plaza Capitol Park Atlanta on Feb. 26-28, 2015. Members and non-members alike are invited to attend this fantastic learning opportunity for journalism students across the southeast.
- The Society of Professional Journalists’ Spring Conferences are day-long professional development meetings bringing area journalists, students and journalism educators together in one place to hear from industry experts on topics ranging from improving writing to leveraging technology in today’s new media climate. Networking opportunities at the conferences allow participants to build relationships that can lead to the sharing of the best practices in newsrooms. Enhance yourself and your journalism career by attending a Spring Conference in your area. For more information, click here.
- The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) will host the Region III conference March 5-8, 2015, aboard the Carnival cruise line to the Bahamas. This conference will feature diverse programming for freelance and transitioning journalists, public relations practitioners, entrepreneurs and students.
- Join Investigative Reporters and Editors and the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting for its annual conference devoted to computer-assisted reporting in Atlanta March 5-8, 2015. Come and learn about tools you need to dig deeper into stories and give your audience the information they want.
- Join the Online News Association for its first international conference, ONA London: Mobile, March 6, 2015, at Reuters UK headquarters. This one-day event will bring together top minds in the industry to discuss mobile design, content and distribution, providing practical tips and inspiration to rethink how media approaches mobile news.
- Journalists, media and communication professionals and students are invited to participate in the 2015 National Association of Black Journalists Region VI Conference, March 13-14,2015, in Oakland, California. The event – which takes place at the Waterfront Hotel in Oakland’s Jack London Square – will begin with a Friday night mixer reception at Lungamore’s @ Jack London Square followed by a full day of workshops, which will offer information and discussion on the impact and future of technology in the media and communications industries. Saturday’s sessions will end with a dinner/dance open to all participants.
- Bindercon – Out of the Binders was formed to promote the voices of women and gender non-conforming writers, and the community surrounding the conference is incredibly welcoming and diverse. The symposium will include panels on cultivating your career and improving your craft, but also diversity and intersectionality—topics that usually aren’t covered in a meaningful way at many other events. The event is March 28-29 in LA and online.
- The Center for Journalism Ethics will address ethics in sports journalism at its seventh annual conference, Fair or Foul: Ethics and Sports Journalism, April 10, 2015, at Union South on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. The conference will feature Robert Lipsyte, veteran sports journalist, author and current ombudsman for ESPN, as keynote speaker. The program will include panels on privacy, editorial independence in a world of sponsorship and rights fees, representation of minorities, and the bounds of civil discourse in a sporting context.
- Journalists will gather for two days of training sessions, awards ceremonies and networking April 10-11, 2015 for the Midwest Journalism Conference at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis International Airport Hotel and Suites at 34th Avenue South and American Boulevard in Bloomington, Minnesota. Planning is under way for the 2015 conference and we welcome your suggestions for speakers, sessions and events.
- Society of American Business Editors and Writers Spring Conference – This conference has a lot to offer business reporters with a great list of speakers including Rahm Emanuel. Writers will learn strategies for evaluating startups and entrepreneurs, covering business in a global economy, and enhancing your reporting with cutting edge technology. The event is April 23-25 in Chicago.
- Join hundreds of journalism colleagues in California’s Silicon Valley — an intersection of health and technology, and home to Health Journalism 2015. Register to visit area sites during field trips, hear from world-class health experts and journalists during panels, take part in skill-building workshops, and more. The conference will help reporters, editors and producers cover the latest in medical research, health technology, public health issues, the business of health care, health policy matters and journalism. The conference kickoff speaker will be Stanford University physician and bestselling author Abraham Verghese. The event is April 23-26 in Santa Clara, CA.
- The Missouri School of Journalism and the Reynolds Journalism Institute will host Journalism Interactive, the conference on journalism education and digital media April 24-25, 2015. The keynote speaker will be Vivian Schiller, who was most recently global chair of news at Twitter. Her address, “Beyond the Buzzwords: What It Means to Be a News Organization in the Digital Age,” will focus on the impact of emerging technologies on both the practice of journalism and the business viability of news media companies.
- American Society of Journalists and Authors Connect For Success is a conference geared more towards freelancers than staff at major publications. It will be April 30 – May 2 and contains tons of panels and sessions on business management, marketing, and writing and research techniques. And since it’s smack dab in New York City, the conference gets high-profile panelists from just about every beat. ASJA members get access to personal pitch sessions, where you can have speed-dating style meetings with publishers, agents, and even a handful of editors, so this conference is potentially lucrative in addition to being informative. Author Jennifer Boylan is speaking this year.
- Muse & the Marketplace – This three-day literary conference helps writers find that elusive balance between artistic excellence and working for money. Authors delve into the craft of writing, while agents, publicists, and editors talk business. May 1-3 in Boston, MA.
- North American Travel Journalist Association Conference and Marketplace – hosts professional development seminars in the morning and a marketplace to meet with exhibitors and hear their destination promotion spiels. In the afternoons, you’ll be drinking cocktails, taking tours, and catching dinner, and listening to an evening keynote speakers. May 4-9 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
- Travel Classics East – Dates: May 28–31, Tarrytown, NY. This conference is open to writers who have published three or more major magazine articles within the last year and a half. Like the NATJA conference, it includes meals as well as pre- and post-conference media tours. You’ll also get to sit in on presentations by top magazine editors and book agents and consult with them one-on-one.
- 2015 Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference is on June 4–7 in Philadelphia, PA. This conference provides guidance on locating documents, accessing public records, finding stories, and managing investigations. Although the schedule hasn’t been posted, the conference promises to cover a wide variety of beats, including public safety, health care, government, military, business, education, and the environment.
- Outdoor Writers Association of California Spring Conference is June 15–16 in Big Bear Lake, CA. If you like to work hard and play hard, this conference will give you a chance to get some fishing and off-roading in while working on improving your craft, gathering story ideas, and networking with other outdoor writers.
- The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference is on July 17–19 in Grapevine, TX. This conference’s theme is “The great divide between the Haves and Have-Nots in American society and the social, economic, racial, cultural and political fissures created by this divide.” World-renowned storytellers will be speaking in a series of lectures, panels, and one-on-one sessions. Keynote speakers this year include authors Anne Fadiman, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Alex Tizon. If that’s not enough, former New York Times editor-in-chief Jill Abramson is one of 18 featured speakers—with more to be announced.
- The National Association of Black Journalists will hold its 40th Annual Convention and Career Fair August 5-9, 2015, in Minneapolis. Thousands of journalists, media executives, public relations professionals, and students are expected to attend to network, participate in professional development sessions and celebrate excellence in journalism. See a list of workshops here.
- The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication will hold its annual conference August 5-9, 2015, in San Francisco.
- Join more than 900 journalists, news executives, media researchers and community leaders at the 25th Annual Asian American Journalists Association National Convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco, August 12-15, 2015.
- Join more than 350 journalists, news executives, communications professionals and educators to celebrate the 25th year of National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association’s Coming Home National Convention & 11th Annual LGBT Media Summit at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero in San Francisco, September 3-6, 2015.
- Excellence in Journalism will be held September 18-20, 2015, in Orlando, Florida. The conference is a joint event with the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
- Record-breaking numbers of journalists travel to the Online News Association’s annual conference each year to learn about new tools, techniques and technologies, to discuss advancements and challenges in the industry, take advantage of the rare opportunity to network face-to-face, and share best practices with peers from all over the map. Join ONA September 24-26 in Los Angeles.
- The Global Investigative Journalism Conference is the world’s largest international gathering of investigative reporters. It will hold its next conference in October in Lillehammer, Norway. The conference will be hosted by Association for Critical and Investigative Press (SKUP), Norway’s investigative journalism association.
- Journalism and Women Symposium Conference and Mentoring Project is on Oct 9–11 in Whitefish, MT. JAWS CAMP has a cozy and comfortable vibe, with conference attendees encouraged to wear jeans and t-shirts. Although the schedule isn’t yet set, past conferences have included panels on new media ethics, intensive training in editing and investigative reporting, documentary film screenings, morning yoga, and cocktail hours.
- ScienceWriters 2015 is on October 9–13 in Cambridge, MA. This is a joint conference, provided by the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, and it features briefings on scientific research, professional development workshops, lab tours, and science field trips.
So there you have it—conferences as close as your backyard and as far as Puerto Vallarta. Remember to register sooner rather than later, as early bird prices increase, hotel blocks fill up quickly, and limited field trip slots at some conferences disappear.
If you have items you wish to include, please email them to me at benet AT aviationqueen DOT COM. Thanks!!