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Florida International University
College of Architecture + The Arts

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My First Job as a Bilingual Reporter in Maryland

Name: Camila Fernandez

Hometown: I live in Salisbury, Maryland, but I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. 

Degree/Major: Major: Broadcast Journalism; Minor: French

Where are you working?
I am working at WMDT-TV, or 47ABC as a bilingual reporter. I cover news within the Delmarva peninsula, which includes Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The TV station is affiliated with TV Azteca, so I often cover stories in Spanish for the Latino community. I am especially passionate about the immigrant community, which includes mostly the Haitian and Latino populations. 

How did you get your job?
My news director had emailed me. I had created my own website, which includes both my contact information and my reel. My news director saw that I was bilingual and we got in touch. Before creating my website, I had done several internships. My first internship was with ABC 15 in Phoenix, Arizona. I acquired this internship through a partnership between FIU and the E.W. Scripps Company. My professors, including Lilliam Martinez-Bustos, were extremely helpful. I also worked for FIU Student Media as News Director. Professors Alfredo Soto and Robert Jaross were a big support during my time at FIU Student Media. Working for FIU Student Media was the best decision I made during my time at the university. It opened so many doors for me. Also, I interned for BBC Worldwide in Coral Gables, and I worked for some time at FIU CARTA where I met a lot of great people who inspired me to grow. In addition, I did some freelance work for a radio station in Colombia called Emisora Atlantico. My grandfather Abel Gonzalez Chavez hosted his own radio show called Satelite there. He recently passed away. He will always be my greatest inspiration. Lastly, I also took FIU Honors courses and French courses, which inspired me to study abroad a couple of times.

All of these different experiences helped me get this first job. It took a lot of patience and a lot of faith.

What was your greatest fear going into your first job and how did you face it or overcome it?
My greatest fear was keeping up with the fast pace of the business. Often times I will have to cover several stories a day while making sure I meet the deadlines. I’ve been able to overcome this fear slowly overtime by coming up with different kinds of methods that will allow me to be more successful. 

Another fear was living in a new area by myself for the first time ever. Thankfully, my family and friends have been able to visit me often. 

What surprised you the most about your first job?
I did not expect my first job to be so challenging. I graduated with a high GPA and did great in my classes; however, good grades will not totally prepare you for your first job. That is why internships are so valuable, as well as networking. Networking is absolutely critical, and you make wonderful friendships along the way. 

What advice do you have for those beginning the job search process?
For those who are beginning the job search process to work as a TV reporter, here is my advice:

  • Create your website/portfolio that will show people who you are and what work you’ve done in the past. Be sure you include a resume reel on that website. 
  • Connect with reporters in your community. Reporters I met helped me with my resume reel and make connections with TV stations in Florida and other states. 
  • Participate in conferences as much as possible. I often go to conferences by Hispanicize or the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
  • Besides creating your own website, build your own Facebook page, a Twitter and even an Instagram account. This will help you significantly to connect with people. 
  • Make sure your resume is clean and has all the information employers should know about you. 
  • Stay connected with your professors as much as possible, and never stop reading/learning. 
  • Finally, never lose faith. I applied for several jobs and got rejected, but it will all help you get your first job. 

What does a day on the job look like?
The first thing you do in the mornings is pitch meetings. During these meetings, you will have to pitch story ideas that you would like to work that day to your producer. Following approval from your producer, you’ll have to go out and interview several people and then return to the TV station to write and edit. Throughout the day, you’ll have to post on social media. You’ll be lucky to find time for lunch. 

After a long day of work, you will have made great connections with members of the community who will help you with future stories. 

How does your job connect back to your coursework?
My coursework during my last year at FIU required me to do a lot of interviewing and speaking on camera. I had to do a short documentary and several stories for my final course. These experiences connect heavily with my job. I also did coursework on creating websites and a reel, which has helped me with updating my information.

How has your transition from school to work been? How do you balance your time?
The transition was a challenge. Often times I miss FIU and the amazing experiences I had there as a student. However, I have enjoyed working at my first job. You have many more responsibilities. Working as a journalist, it can be difficult to balance your time. However, as time goes by, it gets a little easier. It is important to find time for yourself and to disconnect from work as much as possible. Normally, I will go to the gym or hang out with my co-workers and family when they visit. 

What’s been the coolest thing about your job so far?
The coolest thing about my job so far is being able to be a voice for so many people. I recently did a series on Dreamers and it was incredible to learn about the sort of impact they’re making within their communities and then share their stories. Quite honestly, there have been so many ‘cool’ moments. I’ve enjoyed doing weather reporting. It’s a lot of fun to report on things like heavy snow and rain. Although tornados are destructive and scary, it was interesting to talk about their impact as well as the community’s resilience. It’s also exciting when you get to cover an exclusive. All said and done, I look forward to working as a bilingual reporter for CNN one day.

You can visit Camila’s website for more information on she how she’s influencing positive change in local communities through her work https://camilafernandeztv.com/

 

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