2/8 Khitrovsky Pereulok, Building 5 (metro «Kitay-Gorod», «Kurskaya», «Chistiye Prudy»)
Time has always posed challenges for those who work in the media industry. Such a complex field has a great number of interrelated components – from social change to revolutionary advances in technology.
We suggest taking a look at social processes in a much broader way by studying journalism, media management, directing, editing, the stages of the creative process, and the production cycle of creating a media product – simply put, everything that can be called journalism, media, and communications.
Arkhangelsky A. N., Novikova A.
Chinese Semiotic Studies. 2023. Vol. 19. No. 2. P. 315-332.
In bk.: GSOM emerging markets conference 2022 : CONFERENCE BOOK, Saint-Petersburg, 05–08 октября 2022 года. St. Petersburg State University Graduate School of Management, 2022. P. 92-101.
Lapina-Kratasyuk E., Oiva M.
Haastatteluaineisto Yves Montand Neuvostoliitossa, lähdemateriaali. http://urn.fi/urn:nbn:fi:lb-2020081502. The Language Bank of Finland, 2021
But sometimes training projects are not enough to master the necessary skills. After all, working in real media differs fundamentally from the tasks of professors in both the complexity and the degree of responsibility. This is why many students try their hand at professional journalism during their studies. Some go on to become TV news writers, others to present programmes on the radio, and some find themselves in print. If you make the right effort, it is also possible to get a job at the giants of the media market.
Polina Cheremkhina, a second-year journalism student, told the Media Institute about what it's like to be the youngest employee at Russia's leading state news agency, TASS.
- How long have you been working for TASS? How did you manage to get the job?
- On March 5, it was exactly half a year since I officially worked at TASS. However, my first encounter with the agency was back in April 2022, when I applied for the job but never received an invitation.
Last August, out of the blue, the company's HR manager wrote to me and offered me an interview. The funny thing is that, at that point, I had almost completely stopped looking for a job. It found me on its own.
The selection process had several stages. The first was an interview with HR. I was told about the organisational aspects: my future position, working conditions and schedule. They clarified whether I would be able to combine work and study.
The second stage was an interview with the editorial manager. I was asked some "tricky" questions, such as: "Who heads the Russian government?" or "Is Tatarstan a country?" The editorial manager asked if I was ready to take some tests and do a trial assignment. Of course I agreed.
The third stage is testing. Everyone who joins the TASS editorial board is required to pass two tests: one on literacy and Russian language skills, the other on erudition. The tests consist of 50-60 questions and take 30-40 minutes to complete. You have to think fast and answer clearly and correctly. During the test, I started to realise that I was applying for a very hard job, which requires constant concentration and focus. The assignment consisted of two parts: determining the importance of an event from the headline and then writing a news story about it.
But the selection process did not end there either.
The fourth stage of employment was the probationary period. In my case, it lasted ten days. On August 24, I received a temporary TASS employee pass and went to the office for the first time. I was met by my future colleague and shown the workplace. From the first minutes of my first shift, I was given two of the most important documents: the TASS editorial standard and the work regulations.
And finally, on September 5, I brought the necessary documents to the human resources department, signed the employment contract, and became an ITAR-TASS Associate Editor for Monitoring Russian Sources of Information. From that day on, my official working life began.
- Why did you decide to continue your studies at the university, even though you already have a good, prestigious job in your profession?
- For me, study and work are two completely different spheres of life, which I always keep a clear distinction between. Of course, sometimes I have thoughts of taking a gap year, but I control myself and reassure myself by saying: "Work is temporary, a diploma is forever". So, despite my current job and the prestige and authority of the company, I have no plans to give up my studies at the university.
- Was it difficult to integrate into the work process?
- The first month of work was not easy for me. It took me a long time to get used to the new surroundings, environment, and work tasks. The burden of responsibility and fear of making a mistake pressed on me. At first, it was hard to combine study projects and the work schedule, I had to sacrifice my free time, and there were many tears of fatigue and burnout. I was saved in this situation by understanding classmates and colleagues who saw that my life was going through a period of global change, which I may not have been quite ready for. These people supported me and always tried to help me, for which I am very grateful.
- Do the knowledge and skills you get at the Institute help you?
- It is important to understand that studying at a university and working have very different practical content. The writing basics course, which we had in the first module of the first year, was extremely beneficial to me. The news-writing classes, led by Professor Marina Aleksandrovna Koroleva of the Media Institute, were certainly helpful. The knowledge and skills I gained at the seminars I was able to put into practice a year after my graduation.
- Is it difficult to combine study with this work format?
- It can sometimes be difficult to combine work and study, but I have generally gotten used to it. I have a fairly flexible shift schedule, which I can adjust comfortably to my study schedule. Sometimes you have to come to class at 11 a.m. right after the night shift, but you get used to it too.
- Have you encountered any prejudices or stereotypes from more experienced staff?
- TASS has such professionals in their field that I am lucky and honored to learn new things from them. Of course, some colleagues were surprised when I told them my age or course of study. There were occasions when I had to answer the questions, "How did you get here?", "How do you study and work?" But it was more of an objectively understandable bewilderment than a reprehensible one. Once, one of my colleagues affectionately called me "babe" when she found out that I was 18 and in my 2nd year at university. And I'm not even in a master's programme.
In my work tasks, I was always explained things that I found difficult to figure out on my own. This approach made it much easier for newcomers to adapt. At least, I did not have the feeling that I had been thrown into the open sea and told to swim.
- Tell us about your first serious assignment. What format was it? Were there any difficulties? How did you handle it?
- I wrote my first news story on September, 5. It was not just news, but Vladimir Putin's condolences to the family and friends of legendary Soviet boxer Boris Lagutin. You might consider that my career at TASS began with the president's condolences.
All newcomers to TASS are "vetted" by more experienced staff. They proofread texts written by newcomers. Each TASS worker has a unique "visa" - three letters from the name and surname. Mine, for example, is "chrp". At the end of each news item, we put this visa confirming authorship. There are two such visas in newcomers' posts - the author's and the reviewer's. Hence the name "visas". Hence the name "visa".
- Do you think large media outlets like TASS should hire students? How can they benefit from hiring young employees?
- In my newsroom, students and guys who have recently graduated from university work predominantly. Managers always say that together with young people, new ideas and solutions come to the company, which are sometimes lacking. That is why TASS often runs internship programmes, training courses and events.
I believe that such large companies should provide more opportunities for students. And it's not just about formal employment but also about a convenient schedule for combining work and study.
- Would you recommend that other students in the Journalism and Media Communications degree programmes try their hand at a job while they are still studying?
- Any job during the university years is an experience. It doesn't matter which company you are interning for, what matters is what you get out of the work. I recommend that all young people should not chase a salary in their first years at university, but rather focus on gaining skills and improving them. By the way, in my case, my lack of work experience did not affect the start of my career. Never doubt your own strengths and abilities, and everything will work out for sure!
Author: Anastasiya Zhaliy, a second-year student of "Journalism" programme of the Media Institute
Translation: Polina Semenova, a first-year student of Master's programme "Contemporary Journalism"