The National Commission on Writing, a panel established by the College Board, concluded that a third of employees in the nation’s blue-chip companies wrote poorly and that businesses were spending as much as $3.1 billion annually on remedial training.
Unfortunately, corporations can’t afford to wait and the consequences often means layoffs. Unemployment through job loss has been identified as a major factor in the economic deficiency of the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. region. Communication skills offer much cross-over ability into a variety of employment opportunities.
BACK TO WORK Ltd.’s focus is to reach out to the unemployed, underemployed and military veteran populations. We strongly believe that skills learned as a journalist are easily transferable to the corporate world. Through education, we can assist in reintroducing skilled employees into the workforce.
BACK TO WORK will use its resources of journalists and experienced mentors to hold seminars focusing on preparing resumes, building portfolios, and showcasing and marketing one’s work. The corporation will offer a content partner platform – e.g., BaltimorePostExaminer.com – where individuals can get their stories, features, blogs, press releases, photography, and videos published to enhance a resume and be more attractive to employers. We will work side-by-side with professional recruiting firms. Additionally, we will use our lengthy list of contacts to host training events and job fairs to pair companies with our applicants.
Unemployment among recent graduates continues to climb. Students who graduated with tremendous student loan debt are finding themselves in a difficult situation. Too often colleges and universities do not provide the real practical experience and networking that helps recent graduates land that first job. BACK TO WORK will provide a unique intern program where candidates not only get valuable mentoring but also are placed with a recruiter who will actively seek employment for the candidate.
BACK TO WORK will offer a 12-week program for aspiring journalists and experienced media members looking to work inside and outside of traditional journalism, which includes public relations companies, corporate communication offices, politics, and anywhere else where there is a need for communicating with an audience.
Journalists will be mentored by numerous award-winning writers and editors. The three main mentors will be:
- Tim Maier, who has won more than two dozen awards, has had his work cited by Congress and served as the managing editor for one of Maryland’s largest newspapers and one of the U.S. government’s largest military websites during a career that has spanned three decades. He’s also the owner of BaltimorePost-Examiner.com, the website where the majority of our aspiring journalists’ stories will appear online.
- Jon Gallo, who has nearly two decades of experience as a writer and editor at some of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers including The Dallas Morning News, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Washington Post, where he was a member of paper’s team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in 2008. He also has worked as a writer and editor for one of the U.S. government’s largest military websites and CBSSports.com. He’s also a senior editor and columnist for BaltimorePost-Examiner.com.
- Regina Holmes, who has more than two decades of experience as an editor and writer at some of the nation’s most respected newspapers, including The Miami Herald and Newsday. She also has worked as a senior editor for one of the U.S. government’s largest websites in addition to editing content for the U.S. Naval Institute and the World Bank.
Our goal is two-fold: to help young journalists develop the skills to gain employment as well as to help seasoned unemployed journalists get BACK TO WORK by providing an opportunity to learn about multimedia production, and the difference between writing for online publications as compared to print publications. We partner with The Startup Nest, an incubator company that rents office space to companies. The Startup Nest is providing space for training as well as mentoring, and network events.
The first week will consist of a deep dive into a candidate’s resume followed by a consultation with a recruiter to determine the ultimate goal, whether it is finding an aspiring journalist employment at a small publication or helping transition a seasoned journalist into a career in technical writing, public relations, multimedia, social media, business development, or sales.
The candidate will be assigned to a publication and a mentor. The candidate will be taught to use content management systems and effectively use social media platforms.
Every aspiring journalist will be provided with the following books that will be required reading, with weekly quizzes administered.
1. The most recent copy of “The Associated Press Style Guide”
2. “The Art and Craft of Feature Writing” by William E. Blundell
3. The Word: An Associated Press Guide To Good News Writing, by Rene J. Cappon
4. On Writing Well, by William Zinsser
5. Super Searchers in the News: The Online Secrets of Journalists and News Researchers, by Paula J. Hane
6. The Best American Magazine Writing 2015, edited by Sid Holt
7. The Best American Sports Writing of 2015, edited by Wright Thompson, Glenn Stout
Weeks 2 to 11:
Candidates will meet with mentors on a weekly basis where work product will be reviewed and critiqued. Guidance will be provided to improve the quality of work. Candidates will have required reading assignments, including reading great works as well as a series of newspapers and online media.
All candidates will be trained as multimedia professionals where they learn to shoot video, take photographs and produce audio.
Our themes will be prison reform, entrepreneurs, free markets, education reform, political and corporate corruption, waste and abuse, abuse of public trust, media bias, and the promotion of free societies.
Each week will feature a guest speaker from a different media sector. One week, we’ll have a veteran public relations manager, while other weeks will feature technical writers on government contracts, authors and advertising managers. However, all of these professionals share a common denominator: They have used their communications skills to create successful careers.
Journalists have the communications skills; we just want to help refine them.
Each candidate will work with our content partners, such as the Baltimore Post-Examiner, where stories, multimedia projects or advertising designs will be produced. Our content partners will serve as an outlet that will keep a candidate’s work fresh.
One of the program’s major goals is to produce professionals who will require minimal training from their employer, who save money by hiring employees with strong skill sets from the outset.
In the event we are working with photojournalists, we will pair them with successful photographers who make their living shooting events such as weddings. These candidates will shoot weekly photo essays that will be published on our content partner publications.
The work assigned to candidates will become more challenging as the program progresses.
In the first week, a candidate may be asked to rewrite a police press release to focus on the news pyramid.
Future assignments may include attending and covering School Board meetings, government debates and sporting events, as the program’s goal will be to produce well-rounded journalists who can cover everything well. We’ll spend weeks on the craft of feature writing, while other periods will be devoted to how to undertake investigative journalism; gaining exposure through social media; column writing; crafting effective press releases and talking points; and the art of the interview.
BACK TO WORK’S ability to create journalists who can cover an array of topics well will give candidates an advantage in the job market because they’ll show prospective employers diverse portfolios.
During the last week, BACK TO WORK personnel will assist candidates in the writing and rewriting of their resumes so that each version is flavored to a different job, as a technical writer’s resume need to read much differently than that of someone pursuing a career in public relations. BACK TO WORK will then set up appointments with recruiters, and through the use of their own networks actively work to help the candidate find employment.