VOTE YES: Voting 'yes' for Targum means voting for better journalists
I still remember the interview for my first job after I graduated from Rutgers. My prospective boss wanted to know whether I had an internship and if I had any college newspaper experience. When I replied that I had worked at The Daily Targum and secured an internship in the Statehouse Bureau of one of the largest newspapers in New Jersey (thanks to a Targum alumni), he was impressed and I was quickly offered the position.
The Daily Targum has a rich history, and having it listed on my resume carried weight, not only in that interview, but in others that came after it as I worked my way up in the state's newspaper industry. The editors who hired me in those early years knew that if I worked at The Daily Targum, I could handle the grueling schedule that came with working at a newspaper, because I had done so while balancing a full course load.
While I hope that every student on campus picks up the paper at least a few days a week or reads us online daily, I know there are some who do not. But I hope that everyone will support the referendum because of the incredible opportunity that the Targum offers students on campus.
Targum is different from other extracurricular activities at Rutgers. It's one of the few places your peers can help prepare you for a career after college. I learned more from my classmates — journalists who now work at The Washington Post, Politico and The Guardian — than I could have in any lecture hall. The hands-on training gave me the writing and interviewing skills I needed for a career after college, but the Targum also allowed me to dabble in photography, layout and design and even advertising and finance. These are skills I still use today as a social media specialist and magazine editor.
While the Targum produces many journalists, marketing and business professionals, our alumni span the career fields. I met some of my closest friends at the Targum, and many of them did not go on to careers in journalism. Among my friends, there are teachers, lawyers, a pharmacist, a software engineer and a yoga instructor. We have some incredible alumni — one founded his own hedge fund, another is in the Gaslight Anthem and another is on CNBC’s "Squawk Box."
The beauty of the Targum is that it has something to offer everyone. During my tenure, we had artists and musicians writing for Inside Beat. Several of our sports writers had no interest in journalism, but they liked writing about sports, so they did. There were Mason Gross students who photographed events for us and helped design the paper — the newsroom was a melting pot of majors.
Targum allowed me to study subjects I was passionate about — English, women's and gender studies and art history — during the day, while gaining hands-on experience at night. I began as a writer and went on to serve as University editor and managing editor, gaining valuable skills that laid the foundation for a successful journalism career.
I credit those late nights in the newsroom working on stories and copy editing with landing me my first job covering education for The South Brunswick Post and The Cranbury Press. My career came full circle several years ago when I was promoted from a municipal reporter position at The Record to the Statehouse Bureau, the same office I had interned in so many years before (thanks to Herb Jackson, another notable Targum alumnus). This time, instead of writing about lesser-known bills or transcribing interviews other reporters had conducted with the governor, I was the one interviewing Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) and members of his cabinet.
I left journalism late last year after traveling the country covering the G.O.P. presidential primary. It was an incredible experience, one I can't imagine I would have had if not for those years I spent at The Daily Targum. For the past few years I have served on The Daily Targum’s Board of Trustees as one of four alumni members. It’s my small way of giving back to an organization that has given me so much. I hope you will help us continue the tradition of serving the Rutgers community — and offering students a place to get real-life work experience — by voting "yes" during referendum.
Melissa Hayes is a Douglass College Class of 2004 alumna. She is a former managing editor of The Daily Targum.
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