Website & Writing Experience as a Communication Student

Website & Writing Experience as a Communication Student

By: Nicole Freeston | Communication Co-op Student
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As Communication students, we learn about the history of media and major theorists, both of which teach us how to be critical and to write effective arguments in our term papers. Though this is all helpful, upon graduation, most of the job openings we encounter may require us to have more technical skills, something not necessarily taught in Communication courses. This was my reality when I was accepted into the Website Department at Canucks Sports and Entertainment for the 2009-2010 season for my first work term. As a hockey fan, I knew that Canucks.com was the most visited website in the National Hockey League with the largest fan base. However, it was eye-opening to learn the extent of the necessary technical skills for this position.

Prior to my time with Canucks.com, I had minimal website skills, which were self-taught. The position also required me to take photos at the team’s morning practices. I had zero professional experience with photography and writing sports news. My only writing experience was from school and a couple of online magazines. Therefore, you can imagine my fear of making mistakes without any knowledge of hockey lingo or much photography or website experience. My daily routine consisted of photographing the team’s practice, followed by interviews in the Canucks dressing room with fellow members of the press. I initially felt inexperienced recording interviews with players and coaches, but eventually built up enough courage to ask my own interview questions in the media scrums in front of industry professionals. I would then write a daily online news column called the ‘Canucks Report’ that consisted of mainly injury updates, lineup changes and game previews. After that I would edit my photos from that day using Photoshop and upload the gallery along with my article onto the website. I would also attend all of the home games and update various parts of the website after the game was over.

I struggled mostly with writing, but after reading as much sports news written by professionals as I could, my articles needed less editing each time and I adapted the ‘sports’ aesthetic in my writing. Also, because Canucks.com is essentially the voice of the team and the number one source for Canucks news, I had to meet deadlines so other sources would not be reporting news before Canucks.com did. I learned all of the technical skills I needed on the job from my amazing supervisors and co-workers in the Canucks Website Department. My experience as a web reporter for Canucks.com was probably one of the most valuable and fulfilling experiences of my life so far. I felt like a real reporter, and to write for one of the most viewed websites in Vancouver was a huge honour.

I left the Vancouver Canucks with a passion for web reporting, and realized how important it is for Communication students to have those technical skills in such a competitive industry. With the direction the industry is going, a lot of positions may require technical skills that are not taught in school. If I didn’t do any writing outside of school or teach myself the basics of web design, I may not have been offered the position in the first place. It’s so important to do more than what is asked of you in school in order to stand out and to show that you put in the effort to learn different things on your own time. Things like volunteering for online magazines as a writer or starting up your own blog can go a long way!

 

Posted on March 20, 2012