College student Tamara Fuller’s summer internship in the promotions department at a South Florida radio station made her rethink her desire to go into broadcast public relations.

Fuller

Now, the Bethune-Cookman University senior is hoping she can use her degree to enter the broadcast arena in some other role, perhaps as a media buyer or advertising sales.

Either way, Fuller will be entering a job market that has not been too kind to media professionals in recent years.

“I’m a little concerned. I know the economy is bad and professionals, are getting laid off,” Fuller said Friday during the college’s annual mass communications conference at B-CU’s Center for Civic Engagement.

Dancy

Desiree Dancy, vice president for corporate human resources for the New York Times Co., kicked off the program by telling students there was no way to recession-proof a career.

To illustrate her point, Dancy noted 11.3 percent of jobs at daily newspapers nationwide disappeared last year. The New York Times newspaper, which has the largest newsroom staff in the country, eliminated 100 jobs last year and plans are in place to reduce the staff by 100 positions by the end of this year, she said.

But although fewer people are gathering the news, she said The New York Times is reaching more people with digital online media. To stay competitive, she advised the students to hone skills that can go back and forth on a changing playing field.

Speaking to a largely African-American audience, she also said people of color, in particular, need to have a bigger footprint in the digital world in such areas as Web design and development. “Don’t be afraid to step outside the black box” and go for more mainstream jobs, said Dancy, the chief diversity officer for the media company.

Burt-Murray

Angela Burt-Murray, editor-in-chief of Essence magazine and luncheon speaker, echoed several of Dancy’s themes.

Journalists who write for Essence, which has a monthly readership of 7.4 million people, must be able to write for print, television and online, Burt-Murray said. “When we hire folks, we are looking for people with a wide range of experiences.”

Students who aspire to climb the management ladder need to become corporate savvy, she said. Management always has a slate of candidates that would be considered for job openings.

“The biggest thing that derails people of color is that they don’t know what five people (inside the firm) would say about them” if they were being considered for another job, she said, adding her elevation to editor of Essence was almost derailed by a comment from someone who didn’t know about her background, including that she had co-written two books.

“It is important to manage your identity. You have to tell people what you are doing, ” she said.