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Advice for would-be communicators

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Writing on SciLogs, Kirk Englehardt recounts a career change that eventually led him to a research communications job at a major university. Englehardt offers this advice to students — especially those who are pursuing advanced degrees in research but considering a course change into science communications: "Don’t listen to anyone who tells you communication is a 'lesser' career than research. Communication is a science, an important one with real-world impact."

Free advice may not be free anymore

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Should experts charge a fee for mentoring beginners? Anna North finds some in writing and other fields who are doing exactly that: "Charging for what might once have been informal counsel is becoming more common — and the growing freelance economy may be behind the shift," North writes. "While those who work in offices may be able to buttonhole their colleagues with questions, people working for themselves may have to seek out friends or acquaintances for help."

One grad's futile quest for an internship

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Scott Rodd had hopes for a media internship as he neared graduation from Susquehanna University: "At the top of my list were publications like the New Yorker, Time, Esquire, the New York Times, and Harper’s, among others. Harper’s may have been the place I was most interested in." Several months later, he began washing dishes at a French bakery in his hometown. He writes about his experience in Salon, and gets lots of advice (and criticism) in the comments.

Is narrow better in journalism today?

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Try to write "everything about something." That's Jay Rosen's advice for people just starting out in journalism today. What he means is starting a "niche news service" that provides lots of detail on a subject that a few people care about deeply: "You don't need permission to do it. Initial investment: less than $1000 for design, hosting … Building a niche site is hard work, turning it into a business harder. But it's a plausible route for someone starting from zero."

And the best j-school is ... who knows?

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There are many hopeful contenders for the title of America's Best Journalism School, but the standards for measuring such things are weak at best, Eric Newton writes on the Knight Foundation blog: "The opaque nature of journalism education quality and the lack of general transparency is bad for the next generation of content creators, young people who increasingly struggle to get through college, all too often graduating after six years with a large student loan debt."

Internship Fair and mentoring at AAAS

The National Association of Science Writers will again sponsor several exciting programs for student journalists during the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2014 meeting in Chicago. This year’s meeting is Feb. 13-17, in Chicago.

An online data journalism webinar

The European Journalism Centre is registering students for a free five-week online course, scheduled for early 2014, in the fundamentals of using data in journalism. The course includes modules on the skills required to do data journalism. how to find data for stories, how to use spreadsheets and statistics to find patterns in data, basic cleanup techniques for "dirty data" sets, and using infographics and interactive presentations to tell the resulting stories.

NASW student programs at AAAS 2014

The National Association of Science Writers will again sponsor several exciting programs for student journalists during the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. All activities require students to be members of NASW by Feb. 1. Online registration for the AAAS Newsroom will open tomorrow at and continue until Jan. 22.

NASW Internship Fair at AAAS 2014

NASW student members looking for great internships, or news and science organizations looking for top interns should plan to attend the 2014 NASW Internship Fair. The fair will be held Saturday, Feb. 15, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago. Read on for important preparation details.

An editor on how not to apply for a job

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It starts with the cover letter, Slate's Katherine Goldstein writes after reading 500 of them in five years. The résumé and clips won't matter if the cover letter doesn't open a door: "Many young people seem to have no idea how to apply for a job. What I see time after time from young media hopefuls are not the classic no-nos, like misspellings and typos, but what appears to be a fundamental lack of understanding of how to sell oneself to a prospective employer."