By John Hernandez, Journalism senior
Nathalie Cohetero is more than a 2017 SJMC alumna and the newly minted editorial intern at Community Impact: She’s a blueprint for job-seeking students.
“Never stop. Never take a break. Because once you do that, you kind of forget everything you’ve learned. It’s kind of like learning a language. You got to just keep practicing every day or you will forget,” Cohetero said about honing the skills she acquired in journalism school before her May 2017 graduation.
Cohetero’s success is a testament to the power of due diligence and constant refinement of how she presents herself. She’s a practical example of how the tenets for success preached by SJMC professors can build a path to a career.
“I put a lot of time into making my website, improving my resume and making sure all my social media looked professional and displayed everything I’ve done and learned,” Cohetero said.
During one of Cohetero’s first ride-alongs with Community Impact’s Managing Editor, Joe Warner, she asked what set her apart from other candidates. Many mass communication students leave Texas State with a functional resume and portfolio, but Cohetero wondered how she differentiated herself from her peers.
“The fact that I was willing to talk with him, I think, a day or two before Christmas. He pointed that out and said you took the extra step,” said Cohetero. “He wants to see that in reporters.”
Cohetero said she showed she was willing to learn and was passionate about journalism. At a recent talk with a Texas State News Writing II class, Mark D. Wilson, an SJMC alumnus and breaking news reporter for the Austin American-Statesman, echoed that sentiment about qualities that distinguish the best interns.
“A willingness to learn, openness to criticism,” said Wilson. “When you come in, show up, work hard and be really open to criticism and want to get better. You will get better if you approach it like that.”
Internships and first jobs will turn into what you make of them, Wilson said. He came into his job at the Statesman asking what he could do to make it better and decided that video would be the key.
According to Wilson, he outpaced all other Statesman reporters in video production by a significant margin in 2017. Cohetero mirrored Wilson’s efforts by supplementing her portfolio with images from a trip to India in December 2017.
Straight from the recruiter’s mouth
Community Impact launched in 2005 to offer “hyperlocal” coverage of Texas by focusing on individual communities through a monthly newspaper and daily updates on their website. It currently has 24 print editions and covers 38 communities in Texas ranging in size from the large Houston Metro to small Richmond.
As John Cox, a recruiter for Community Impact, re-examined Cohetero’s resume since her hire, he praised her efforts to round out her qualifications and presentation for the internship position. Participating in student media at The University Star and KTSW, gaining internship experience at the Texas Natural Gas Foundation and undertaking other extracurricular projects, like ProPublica’s Electionland, distinguished Cohetero.
Cox also made it seem like she never stops.
“I think there’s so much talent and upside with her in this role, we’re really proud to have her as our first spring editorial intern,” Cox said.
For students needing a plan of action, Cox said get involved in student media.
“The opportunities there are endless and are so important in terms of learning important lessons. Once I see that involvement at a student publication or a student media organization on campus that lets me know that this is an individual that is passionate about journalism,” Cox said.
Advancement through the ranks of those student media organizations, or “incubators” as Cox called them, is a plus.
But he also cited the example of another Texas State journalism school graduate and recent Community Impact hire, Rob Miller, who approached Cox at a conference to ask what he could do to get a reporting job. Cox noted there’s more than one way to get experience.
“Offer your services, paid or unpaid, to the San Marcos daily paper there,” Cox said to Miller. “He did that and gleaned great experience that ended up getting him the job where he is today.”
As Miller’s case proves, approaching Cox or other employers advice and following up on that counsel is a gesture that can lead to results.
Building connections with professors for references is also a crucial step. Cox pointed out how Cohetero used Holly Wise, a Texas State journalism professor, as a reference and how much her “stamp of approval” meant to him.
For students who are reticent to approach a potential employer, Cox wanted to make it clear that he doesn’t bite and is willing to help.
“You can’t bother somebody in a recruiting role enough. It’s my job to take on and listen to people who are growing in this industry,” Cox said.
Not taking any breaks
For now, Cohetero, a San Marcos resident, is shadowing Community Impact staff and concentrating on her nascent coverage of Cedar Park, Leander, Lake Travis and Westlake. Community Impact is based in Pflugerville, so Cohetero also never stops moving through Central Texas.
As she looks ahead, she hopes the 10-week paid internship program at Community Impact leads to a job there. Regardless of the outcome, she is grateful for the experience, the networking opportunity and a chance to create content for a newspaper that she loves.
Plus, as an added office perk, Cohetero noted she gets unlimited sparkling water for free.
In need of more help with career goals? Visit Texas State’s Career Services office in the LBJ Student Center, check out their Resources page or read these career fair tips from the University of California, Berkeley.