Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism, Uncategorized

Members Share Their #NABJ19 Experiences

I spend a lot of time encouraging NABJ members, especially our younger ones, to attend the association’s annual convention. I always want to hear back from them to see how their experience was. Some of our members were kind enough to share their experiences, below.

Elijah Baker

The 2019 National Association of Black Journalists in Miami was my best convention by far. I can’t explain it. I prayed that God would allow me to be intentional with my behavior and words. Leading to the conference, I did my best to prepare our students and younger journalists on expectations and budgeting via social media. They said, “Are you the guy who did that video on Twitter?” I said, “Yep!” I did it for us.
In return, the family looked after me. I’ve been struggling these past 20 months in my personal life, at church and at work. It got to the point where I felt like I was slipping away. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I felt paralyzed.
For the first time, I believe, NABJ had a managing your mental health while on the job. You have no idea how much I needed the support of my brothers and sisters in that workshop. I was able to release the pain I buried on the inside. Black men hugged me. Black women encouraged me. NABJ was the first time I asked for professional mental health advice.
I see clearly how NABJ changes lives. When we stop merely seeing our conventions as the come-up, we’ll start to see our gathering as a space to heal. We’re really good at hiding our pain until it overcomes us. I am refreshed now. New Orleans was my first NABJ experience. Detroit was my second. Miami was therapeutic.

Janay Reece

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This year, NABJ was different for me. It was my first convention as a working television
reporter/MMJ. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish: Get a TON of feedback on my reel, meet new friends, and take the first steps toward becoming an investigative reporter. Little did I know, hardly any of that would happen.

Instead, I learned more about myself and connected with people in a different way. I went to a session about mental health and it made me realize that I need help. Our health as media professionals is beyond skin deep. Listening to the panelists made me realize the journey we take in the media industry can’t be done alone, and I was trying to do that. It was draining me and I didn’t even know.

Hearing my peers and other experienced journalists discuss what they have been through, made me see I am not alone and my support system is right in front of me. This year at NABJ —- yes —- I still got my reel critiques, gained new skills, and had a good time, but I saw the village of people here to support me. Before my first reporting job, I had no idea how draining things would get. Every single person I spoke to during the convention breathed life back into me and it was an experience I needed.

Nicholas Lawrence Vaughn

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Vaughn is a rising senior at Morehouse College and an intern at the Atlanta Voice.
My experience at my first NABJ convention was magical. It was great being around so many people who want to go into the same profession. It was similar to being at Morehouse, where the competition makes you work that much harder to get what you want — but increased by 100 percent, with so many people there from all over the country.
The convention was inspirational and motivating. I not only saw local reporters and writers, but also the ones I see on TV every day. They were all nice and willing to help the next of us because at the end of the day, everyone wanted to help each other make it to the top and be the best that they can be.
Note: While attending the convention, Vaughn learned he had been selected as one of five Online News Association HBCU Digital Fellows. He will attend the ONA conference in New Orleans next month, where he will write for the Student Newsroom and receive digital skills training.

Royal Thomas II

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This year’s NABJ conference in Miami was honestly an eye-opener for me.  On several different fronts, I learned so much about the field and its inner workings. The most obvious takeaway is networking; meeting so many fresh, successful, BLACK faces is an experience unparalleled to anything I have come across. I also received great tips and guidance at the conference.  Seeing what others are working on and how they go about their craft was great food for thought. I have identified several areas to which I can make improvements in my own work.
I thank all the people who shared their NABJ Miami stories. It’s always good to have a reminder of the true power our organization has to change lives. Watch this space for tips to save money for Washington, D.C.!
Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, journalism

10 Things I Learned At #NABJ19

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1. NABJ changes perceptions.  I posted the above photo on my Facebook page. It is still racking up views. I thought all my friends should see a different view of black men, including my mentee Avery Braxton (far left).

2. NABJ’s next generation came to slay. I was SO proud to see so many of my mentees, who are all doing SO well in their careers. And they were all prepared when it came time to go to the exhibit hall.

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3. I value my time with founders. I had the chance to spend almost two hours with Founder Sandra Long Weaver. We talked about everything from teaching the next generation to the history of Jack Daniels.

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4. There were too many workshops to choose from. Did you see this year’s schedule? It was chock-a-block full of sessions that competed, making it hard to choose. I was happy to see that some panels were live-streamed, and I hope that will be a trend that continues in D.C. next year.

5. Black people *want* their washcloths. There was a situation for those of us staying at the host hotel where the Turnberry Isle ran out of washcloths. So much so that it was the runner-up in this year’s Overheard at #NABJ19.

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6. The Young Black Journalists Task Force rocks! As task force co-chairs Chelsea Fuller and Walter Randolph-Smith wind down their tenure, I want to give them a shout out for all their hard work representing the future leaders of NABJ.

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7. Suite talks are really cool. The Visual Task Force always has great programming. But this year, VP-Print Marlon A. Walker also hosted two days of suite talks for the NABJ Freelancers Task Force. Roy Wood missed his talk because he was sent to Iowa, but the other talks were intimate and informative.

8. We worked it out when it came to the bar. Yes, the bar was small. Yes, the drinks were expensive. But there was a very reasonably priced happy hour at Corsair Kitchen and Bar from 3-6 p.m. every day that helped.

9. Bring back the spa booth. The person who set that up outside of registration is a genius! That definitely needs to return next year in D.C.

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10. You *must* have your tribe! Every year, we end NABJ with brunch. And it was doubly good because we were celebrating Aprill Turner’s birthday. See you all in D.C.!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism

NOW Is the Time to Get Ready for #NABJ19 in Miami

Sarah

Do you see this? If you think Detroit was great — and it was a great as it looked in photos and on social media — you know Miami is going to be even better. So if you had FOMO about Detroit, the good news is that you have plenty of time to start saving your pennies now for Miami.

The Turnberry Isle Miami is a top Marriott property. People, it’s stunning. The basic room has two Queen beds AND a sofa bed. And students, I don’t know if you heard, but there’s going to be a special room rate just for you! Nearby is Sunny Isles Beach.

So let’s get to the point of this post — the money it will cost you to get to Miami.  I started saving for Detroit last June, and did the same for Miami this year. There’s a core group of us who help students and young journalists get to convention every year. I can’t speak for everyone, but do NOT contact me for help if you don’t have at least two of these three things — airfare, registration or hotel. And if you come at me last minute for help, it’s going to be a no — and a link to this post.

I don’t know what the room rate is, but I’m guessing it will be in the $200-$230 range, so let’s use that as the number. The rest of these numbers are on the high end, because I like to plan for every contingency.

Registration – $325. This is for Early Bird. If you belong to a chapter, that drops to $275.

Hotel – $1150 for Wednesday through Sunday. Divide this by four if you have roommates.

Airfare – $500. This depends on where you’re flying from. I did a quick check of Southwest Airlines fares from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale in late February-early March, since that’s how long their schedule goes right now. it came to $499.28. But I expect that fare to drop, since August is not the high season for Miami.

Transportation – I always budget about $100 for this, including a ride to and from the airport and downtown visits. A Super Shuttle from Miami International to the host hotel will be around $24 each way; the same ride from Fort Lauderdale is about $30 one way.

Convention Prep –  $200. This is anything you need to do to get ready for convention like clothes, business cards, resumes, hair, nails, clothing alterations, etc.

Meals/Bar – You can’t expect to get free meals every day. And you know you’re going to be socializing at the bar, so budget about $75 a day for this.

Ways to Pay

This all adds up to about $1700. There are ways to get this number down with creative budgeting, but let’s be real. This convention is not going to be cheap, but it can be done — if you start now.

Take advantage of the chapter discount for registration. Or consider volunteering to get a free one. That hotel cost will drop if you have roommates. The last time I had a room to myself was in 2006 in Indianapolis, my firs NABJ Convention.

When it comes to airfares, consider flights to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which tends to have cheaper fares than Miami International Airport.

With transportation, you can share costs with others coming to Miami. You can also decide what you need — and what you don’t — for convention prep. I cut hair (I’m #TeamNatural), nails (again, #TeamNatural), business cards (if you want to find me, it’s pretty easy) and resumes (I haven’t applied for a job since 1992, plus anyone can go to my website), from my convention budget.

Meals/bar are always a big expense for me, because I don’t allow my mentees to pay when they’re with me. I know this and budget accordingly.

Show Me the Money

So how are you going to get the money for Miami? Start now! Below are 10 tips you can use to help.

  1. Start a savings account. Set one up on auto pay and walk away. My personal favorite is Smarty Pig because it takes out the money automatically and it’s in an account you can’t see, so you avoid temptation. Others include Digital (but it does cost $2.99 a month) Qapital and Chime.
  2. Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas-Kwanzaa/Graduation. Look for these and other celebratory milestones. Ask friends and family for contributions toward convention costs rather than gifts that can’t offer a return on your career future. Grandma can pay for a hotel night or two. Mom and Dad can spring for airfare. Auntie can give you a gift card you can use for incidentals. Your Uncle can take on registration.
  3. Early bird registration. As soon as NABJ announces this, register. Aside from the chapter affiliate discount, this is the lowest rate you’re going to get.
  4. Ask your employer. There are companies that have line items in their budgets for professional development. See if you can get some of that money to help pay for NABJ. Come correct; show them the convention schedule and show them the workshops you’re going to take that will help you do your job better. See if they’ll give you the time off without having to use vacation.
  5. Buy your airfare early. The earlier you book your flight, the cheaper the fares will be. Sign up for either Hopper or Airfarewatchdog, which will tell you the best times to buy that ticket.
  6. NABJ. Check the website and eBlasts for announcements on scholarships and fellowships that help cover convention costs. This year there were grants from Columbia University.
  7. Local organizations. See if your NABJ chapter offers scholarships to help students/young journalists.
  8. Facebook and Twitter. Follow accounts for convention information, including ways to fund your trip. They are: (NABJ) National Association of Black JournalistsNational Association of Black Journalists; NABJ Students; Marlon A. Walker, Your NABJ Vice President/Print 2015-2018; Benet J. Wilson, Immediate Past VP-Digital, NABJ; @NABJ; @NABJDigital; @NABJSTUDENTS; and @Marlon4NABJ.
  9. #SideHustle or part-time job. I have a day job, but I also have two writing-related side hustles. I always put a percentage of what I earn with those into my Smarty Pig account to help pay for convention.
  10. Carpool. If you are in driving distance of Miami (my limit is 8 hours in a car), get a group together and ride to convention.

So there you have it — your blueprint to get to #NABJ19 in Miami. If you start now, you’ll be ready to go Aug. 7-11. Only 345 more days to go!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, journalism

Top 10 Things I Learned at #NABJ18

#NABJ18 logo

I usually write this post the week after the convention is over. But I’m not as young as I used to be and needed time to recover accordingly. Those of you who weren’t able to join us in Detroit, all I can say is that you missed a great one. Yes, there were some issues, but in the end, #NABJ18 is my second-favorite (#NABJ11 in Philly is still number one) annual convention. Read why, below.

  1. 38068024_10157657831414606_4681514679057514496_n
    Students in a pep talk on the first day of newsroom operations.

    The kids are all right. For the third year in a row, I had the honor of doing a Google News Lab tools training for this year’s student newsroom. The students came correct this year; I didn’t have to send anyone upstairs to change, nor did I have to lock anyone out because they were dressed and ready to go at exactly 7:30. Big shout out to NABJ Founder Allison Davis (and my personal Digital Journalism sensei) who reached into her bag of tools and came up with a projector for my presentation. Check out the work they did in the NABJ Monitor.

  2. IMG_4047Volunteers make the convention work. NABJ saves a fortune in labor expenses because our members step up and volunteer to make this convention work every year. Former NABJ President Will Sutton took over as Volunteer Coordinator at the 2017 convention and he was in full force in Detroit. He helped SO many young people who were struggling to get to Detroit, including three of my babies. Much love to everyone from the student newsroom mentors to the folks at the airport and in the hotel who greeted members and offered help with a smile. read about Alexis Grace’s volunteer experience here.
  3. Benet ToolsEach one teach one. I was thrilled to be part of the team — shout out to former educator board rep Michelle Johnson and Google’s Sam Stewart — that did a day of Google News Lab Tools training. Want to bring this FREE training to your newsroom, NABJ chapter meeting, regional conference or other events? Click here to learn more about the program and request me (or others) to do your training. Did I mention it’s FREE to bring me or other trainers in? I also had BIG fun doing an interactive — and packed — presentation in the Innovation Bubble on my favorite tools, tricks and tech that help me do my job smarter and better (click HERE for a post where I share my presentation).
  4. 38470895_10156819064857018_1196883406869233664_nTeach where you are. Teaching doesn’t just happen in workshops. When you bring young people along with you on events, they meet people who are always ready to pass on wisdom. The hotel lobby bar is a great way to do resume reviews (shout out to Kim Bardakian), or teach a master class on being the best television producer (shout out to Carol Ash). My mentee Shayla Simmons (one of two students I sponsored this year) also happens to be a student of Founder Sandra Long Weaver, so you can bet she had an amazing experience in Detroit!
  5. The future is digital. As a recovering print journalist who has transformed into a digital one, I really appreciated this year’s theme, “NABJ18: Driving Journalism, Technology & Trust.” We had some good digital programming in Detroit, both inside and out of the Innovation Bubble. It’s clear now that digital is the future of our industry and I hope we have even more workshops in Miami that will let our members stay relevant in their newsrooms.
  6. Step up and serve. The vast majority of us owe our jobs and careers to 44 Founders who risked theirs to start NABJ on Dec. 12, 1975. So it’s disappointing to see so many board seats either uncontested or open.  Half the board — president, vice president-digital, vice president-broadcast, secretary, Region I, Region III and student representative — will be up for election or re-election, so please consider running. We all have seen first hand the importance of both voting and stepping up to serve. If board service isn’t your thing, then join a task force or committee, volunteer to help plan and execute next year’s convention or get involved with your local chapter. If you’re in Baltimore, I’m the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists chapter president and we’d be happy to have you join us.
  7. S38422335_10157669978394606_1590279231244337152_nupport the millennials! This group now makes up the largest segment of NABJ members. They will be the ones who keep our organization growing in the future, so we must support them now. I made and donated this quilt as a fundraiser for the Young Black Journalists Task Force so they can do their important work. This is part of a larger discussion I hope NABJ will have about supporting — and funding — task forces because they are an important part of helping the association meet its mission. It’s also a great place to groom our next generation of leaders.
  8. I overpacked for Detroit. Damn it! I overpacked for New Orleans and swore I’d do better. I will do it for Miami!
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    Justin Hinton and Kirstin Garriss

    Feeling the love. Most of us work in newsrooms where we are either the only or one of a few. Even though I now work for the most diverse newsroom of my 30+ year career (shout out to my boss Mandi Woodruff), it still brings me much joy to see so many people who look like me doing the work I do. But I have the most love for my babies, who are doing SO well in their careers. I’m so very proud of you. A few (but the list is SO long) of them include Kirstin Gariss, Marissa Evans, Justin Hinton, Stephon Dingle & Justin Madden (who both killed in the Student Newsroom), Ashley Jolicoeur, Sia Nyorkor and Tierra Carpenter. Please note — this is an incomplete list, so don’t be mad at Auntie!

  10. 38660549_10157673184909606_6027202983152844800_nFind your tribe. You need friends to keep you sane at NABJ conventions. This group — special shout out to DR. Carol Ash — is the one. We talk in the time leading up to convention and we see each other at different events. But we ALWAYS end the convention with a lovely brunch outside the host hotel to catch up and bond. It’s a great tradition. I hope you’ll consider it with your tribe in Miami.

 

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Uncategorized

What to Expect When Volunteering at a NABJ Convention

IMG_2842By Alexis Grace, Junior, Clark Atlanta University

As we recover from a phenomenal time at #NABJ18 in Detroit, let us take a minute to thank those who put everything together. From President Sarah Glover, Volunteer Coordinator and former NABJ President Will Sutton and the staff ,all the way down to the volunteers.

Volunteers are everyday people who may or may not have any involvement with NABJ. Some volunteers may be college students looking to network, a parent who wanted to learn more about what their child was involved in, or maybe even a resident wanting to represent for their community.

Either way, an NABJ convention can be quite pricey. Many expenses must be taken into consideration. You have transportation, housing (if you aren’t a resident of the convention city), food, and free time (spending time with friends or going out to the parties). Being a volunteer during a convention allows you to make connections, receive volunteer hours and gain access to the convention — for free.

If you are thinking about being a volunteer for #NABJ19, luckily, you have some time to consider your options. What you receive after being a volunteer for NABJ conventions is all about what you make of it.  Here are eight things to consider before committing to serve as a volunteer for next year’s convention in Miami.

  1.    Completing the Hours

To receive convention access, you must complete your required hours. That means if the required number of hours is eight, then you will have to complete them in to gain access. There is always help needed during the convention, so these hours should be easy to obtain.

  1.    Expenses

Even though registration is covered, there are still other expenses that need to be accounted for. These expenses include transportation, housing, food and free time.  Most volunteers are residents of the area where the convention is held. If you are not a resident, it is best to make sure you have everything else in order before signing up to volunteer.

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  1.    Connections

It was surprisingly an easy way to network. Being a volunteer, you could network with everyone before events, during events, and after the event is over.

  1.    Late Night, Early Mornings

There may be some early mornings and late nights, but thats’s what makes volunteering fun. Expect to create your own schedule, but you will always be asked to work a little bit more than expected, because extra hands are always needed.

  1.    Behind the Scenes

Working behind the scenes may be the coolest part of being a volunteer. You can see what goes on during the award shows, the workshops and the receptions that everyone loves so much.

  1.    Celebrities

One thing that seems to be every volunteer’s favorite moment is meeting all the fun celebrities who pop up at an NABJ convention. From Chance the Rapper to Bobby Brown, meeting all your favorite media personalities that you grew up watching can be a pretty big deal.

  1.    Being Social

One thing I find to be the most important is being social. As a volunteer at a convention filled with bright personalities and excitement, you do not want to be quiet all the time. You never know whom you can encounter just by speaking or complimenting someone.

  1.    Missing Events

It is best that you plan your schedule according to how you would like to attend the convention. For example, If you want to participate in multiple workshops on Tuesday, it is best to know that you have completed all of your hours by Monday so you’ll have convention access for that day. The worst thing that could happen is missing an event that you think could be beneficial. You also should remember the reason why you are at the convention —  to provide service. So remember to work first and learn later.

This being my first national NABJ convention as a volunteer, I wanted to make sure that everyone knows the importance of service and how far it can take you. If you love service and journalism, then this is the job for you. Be on the lookout for the opportunity to volunteer at #NABJ19! Hope to see you there!

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Uncategorized

NABJ Detroit 2018: A Recap

By Tyrik Reed, Freelance Journalist

IMG_2144Last week, I attended the NABJ Conference in Detroit. I wasn’t there for the entire conference, but I can honestly say that I received so much from the few days I was able to attend. From attending workshops, to networking with hundreds of Black journalists, it was my mission to make the most of this experience.

While I’m grateful that I was given this opportunity, it was a tough road getting to this point. After attending the NABJ Region III Conference in Atlanta this past April, I found myself broke and with little resources to put towards going to Detroit. I assumed that the national conference would basically be the same so it should be fine if I didn’t attend this year. But after talking to my cousin, current WWAY-TV anchor Amanda Fitzpatrick, I realized how wrong I was. She told me that unlike Atlanta, there would be a huge career fair that I needed to attend if I was serious about finding work as a producer.

But even after that conversation, I continued to dismiss the idea of going because of my financial situation. It took a few more conversations with multiple people for me to realize that I needed to be in Detroit.

I contacted a producer that I met in Atlanta, and after telling him about my situation,  he gave me the email address for one of his contacts, Benét Wilson, president of the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists. I reached out to her expressing my interest in attending the conference, and after an honest conversation about waiting until the last minute to prepare (which was well deserved), she agreed that she would help me in whatever way she could.

IMG_2245She connected me to former NABJ President Will Sutton, who was the Volunteer Coordinator for this year’s conference. He agreed to cover my registration fees if I would be willing to help volunteer during the conference. Wilson also reached out to Travel Service Provider John Dekker, who graciously covered my airfare to Detroit! I wouldn’t have been able to attend this conference if it weren’t for Benet and her desire to see my goal come to fruition.

My first couple of days in Detroit was specifically for volunteering before the conference. It was my job to greet fellow NABJ attendees as they arrived at the Detroit Metro Airport. We were there to answer any questions they had about transportation options to the hotel in addition to general questions they had about the conference.

It was through these conversations that I learned about the do’s and don’ts associated with being an “NABJ Baby.” Upon completion of my two volunteer shifts, I was given clearance for two days of the conference, including the career fair and any workshops and events I wanted to attend. On Tuesday night, I attended a town hall forum as well as the NABJ opening reception.

Wednesday was the official start of the convention. I attended two workshops geared toward preparing first-time convention goers for the career fair. Led by a group of talented professionals covering all aspects of media, these classes showed me how to establish connections with potential employers, what should be a part of my resume and demo reel and the importance of standing out and making a lasting impression.

It was then time for me to visit the career fair. I was extremely nervous walking into the exhibit hall.  It was overwhelming to say the least. But even though I was afraid, I reminded myself of why I was there and that this was my moment to prove to myself that I belonged here.

I visited a handful of companies that first day including Tegna, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Raycom, and Scripps. Everyone I talked to was down to earth and willing to have a thorough conversation with me, especially after I told them I was interested in becoming a producer. Even though I knew that I didn’t have the same amount of work experience as other potential candidates, I truly felt like I was being listened to.  Later that night I attended a welcome reception sponsored by Disney.

IMG_2252Thursday was the second day of the career fair and my final day in Detroit.  I entered the career fair as soon as it started. This time I visited the other companies on my list that I wasn’t able to go to the day prior. This included Graham Media Group, Gray Television, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, Heartland Media, and Fox Television Studios. I also visited ABC News, CNN, and NBC Universal.

Like Wednesday, I received great advice from veterans on what employers are looking for in a producer and what I need to do to continue improving my skills and making myself more marketable to employers after I leave Detroit. I also had the fortune of meeting an amazing individual, who like me, is trying to transition into a career in journalism after realizing that she wasn’t passionate about her current job.

Hearing her optimism about her experiences at the career fair reminded me that even if I don’t receive a job offer from the conference, my time here wasn’t wasted. There was a reason why I was given an opportunity to attend this conference. I may not see it immediately, but I know that this will be a pivotal moment in making a my goal a reality.

I am incredibly thankful to the people who gave their time and resources in order for me to be able to attend this conference. There is no way I would have been able to do this alone. Attending the NABJ conference has ignited a flame that I pray never burns out. I will become a producer, by any means necessary, and I hope that I’m able to help someone else realize their dreams in the future just like I was helped with mine.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Uncategorized

My NABJ 2018 Experience – A Brief Summary

By Jonathan Franklin, Freelance Writer & Digital Content Producer

unnamedIf you had told me this time last year that I would be surrounded by hundreds of black, intelligent journalists at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention conversing and learning more about world issues that have and continue to impact journalists of color, I would have not believed you.

I would have simply stopped listening; becoming closed minded about how much of an impact this organization continues to have on strong, eager black journalists hungry for success in this industry. And after attending this year’s national convention, I am truly thankful for being able to experience first hand the black excellence that took place over the course of five days.

In the beginning, I was overwhelmed at the cost of attendance – airfare, lodging, and convention registration – and how much of a financial worry it would be for me; seeing as though the transition from graduate student to seeking employment is no joke. But, after speaking with my mentors and doing research/networking, I quickly learned that there is a way to attend the annual conference at little to no cost – knowing that you have to be at the right place at the right time.

I came across a tweet from a well-known, established journalist — Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley (who is now one of two of my adopted NABJ aunties) — advertising that she would sponsor two students to attend this year’s convention at no cost.

As I looked at the time stamp of the tweet, I eagerly told my boss that I just had to use her computer to submit my resume to Riley to secure this sponsorship to attend this year’s convention. Fingers going at rapid speed, I was anxious that I wouldn’t be selected for this wonderful opportunity. An hour and a half later, I received the email that I was one of the two selected to have registration paid in full for this year’s convention.

And the same happened for getting my flight paid for, as well; being at the right place at the right time. I opened my laptop to submit a few emails for the evening but beforehand, I checked my Facebook to get rid of the dozens of notifications that were sitting.

Within the Facebook group ‘NABJ Students’, I noticed that another prominent journalist (Benét Wilson, now another one of my NABJ aunties) was sponsoring flights for students to go to Detroit. After quick deliberation and taking the leap of faith, I ‘shot my shot’ and submitted a politely, detailed email (aka, coming correctly in the words of Auntie) to Wilson with the necessary materials and eventually, was blessed to receive airfare paid for to attend the convention. Now, the real task at hand: going to Detroit.

I will admit, I was a little skeptical about attending this year’s convention – surely because I was worried about what was in store and how I should market myself at the career fair to land the perfect ‘entry-level job’. However, once I stepped foot in the convention for the first day, my anxiety and jitters went out of the window as I felt like I was at homecoming or a family reunion; feeling comfortable and secure knowing that this was indeed a good decision that I made.

unnamed-1Throughout the course of the week, it was non-stop networking, learning, and growing as a journalist. Between the career fair, networking mixers and receptions, and the sessions that took place, I learned a lot about not only myself as a journalist, but also about NABJ and why folks are continuously passionate about it.

Prior to the convention, I eagerly marked the workshops and sessions that I wanted to attend and while unfortunately I did not get a chance to attend some, the ones that I did sit in on I am truly glad that I not miss them, due to the depth of knowledge that was shared throughout the course of the session. One session that I found to be the most beneficial was the “You Know Those Millennials!’ session that took place on Friday afternoon of the convention.

Being a 24-year-old, millennial journalist, I found value within this session simply because majority of the topics that were discussed within this panel applied to me in some way shape or form. From discussion salary negotiations, to navigating the newsroom as a millennial, to using social media as a pivotal tool as a millennial journalist, the little nuggets that were constantly shared during the hour and twenty minutes made the whole room, including myself, go ‘Yasssss!’ – along with other forms of happy expression.

Knowing that other black-millennial journalists are constantly facing the same battles as myself in the newsroom makes me feel comfortable that the struggle is indeed too real in this sense and that there are others who can be used a resource or someone to vent or talk to makes the transition into the journalism industry much easier than what I initially expected.

It is safe to say that journalism is best at detecting changes that need to be made in humanity, which is what I am passionate about doing in every single story that I choose to take on to report. Within this industry, one must possess the qualities of thoroughness, quality, and criticism because journalism addresses issues of serious concern and draws attention to the economic, social, political, and the cultural trends happening in our society.

By attending this year’s national convention, I was able to learn from the best of the best in this industry while absorbing all of the knowledge, critiques, skills, and tricks on how to navigate this industry as a storyteller. To create change in the world, what better way to do so than to surround myself with those who are just as passionate about doing so and are already taking on this challenge as storytellers in this day and age; and for that, I am forever thankful for NABJ.