This past August, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) showcased its annual convention and career fair for student journalists, media professionals and professional journalists in Birmingham, Alabama. The annual gathering unites Black journalists to take part in panels, regional conferences, workshops, professional development and discussions.
As part of the largest organization for journalists of color in the United States, MSU’s Chapter of the NABJ is committed to establishing a community amongst aspiring Black journalists. From building networks, finding potential job opportunities, scholarships, to honoring achievements-journalism students in the ComArtSci program always look forward to attending the National Black Journalist Convention and Career Fair. With hundreds of professional recruiters in attendance annually, the opportunities are limitless.
Communications/public relations senior Brandon Foster was one of this year’s ComArtSci students to represent at NABJ 2023. For Foster, the event provided a unique opportunity to engage in workshops and discussions with students, mentors, and professionals.
“The NABJ convention is really a celebration of journalism and the community,” said Foster. “For me, NABJ is the place where I found my first internships which ultimately led to my first job opportunities. The program provides fruitful relationships that I carry with me today. As a previous board member of the organization, I look forward to NABJ’s events to ensure I am getting a chance to reconnect with old friends, mentors, upcoming professionals and students. I felt very comfortable at this convention because of the support amongst Black journalists who encouraged me to continue my passion for writing.”
The conference has created an outlet for professionals to provide advice to students who will face the same struggles as Black journalists. In professional environments, it is common for students to be reserved or nervous. However, when it comes to networking, NABJ pushes students to be open to new experiences.
“Anyone who aspires to be in the industry should be open to criticism, be open to learning, and extend outside of your comfort zone,” said Jarrad Henderson, Artist in Residence at ComArtSci and former Executive Board Member for NABJ. “The biggest mistake students make at NABJ events is specifically interacting with the people that they know or have previous relationships with. When students choose to do that, they are limited to a certain experience. If you keep yourself open and go out of your way to meet new people, you will have a well-rounded experience at any professional conference or setting.”
Community of Belonging
The NABJ has contributed its resources to ensure students have the keys to becoming a successful journalist. The efforts students and members dedicate towards NABJ’s events have allowed many to consider the organization as home.
“Community is essential to belonging,” Henderson added. “In NABJ there is a community of influence but also familiarity in a way that inspires and cultivates everyone around. The bigger the community, the better the experience it will be for all.”
1855 Professor of Community and Urban Journalism Professor Danielle Brown is an advocate for the NABJ organization. She believes those who are involved early will notice a positive influence that will aid their journalism careers.
“The world is busy, but where you put your time and energy every day is important,” said Brown. “NABJ was pivotal for me, my career, and my education. Now it is a great way to help students who endure similar struggles that I experienced as an undergraduate student.”
All ComArtSci undergraduate students whether studying journalism or not are encouraged to join.
By Miles Sloan