Name: Camila Fernandez
Hometown: I live in Salisbury, Maryland, but I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia.
Degree/Major: Broadcast Journalism
Where are you working?
I am working as a bilingual reporter at WMDT-TV and cover news within the Delmarva Peninsula, which includes the entire state of Delaware and the eastern shores of Maryland and 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?
A lot of different experiences helped me get this first job. It took a lot of patience and a lot of faith.
My first internship was with ABC 15 in Phoenix, Arizona, which I acquired 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, which was the best decision I made during my time at the university as it opened so many doors for me. Professors Alfredo Soto and Robert Jaross were a big support. I interned for BBC Worldwide in Coral Gables, and I worked for some time the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, 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 where my grandfather Abel Gonzalez Chavez hosted his own show. Although 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.
With all that to my credit, I created a website that included a resume reel and contact information, and the news director at ABC 15 saw it and got in touch.
What was your greatest challenge going into your first job and how did you or overcome it?
My greatest challenge 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 meet this challenge over time by coming up with different kinds of methods that will allow me to be more successful.
Another challenge 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 a 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.
- Connect with reporters in your community. Reporters I met helped me with my resume reel and connected me 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 account and even an Instagram account. This will help you 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 meet to pitch story ideas 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 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. IIt’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.