Power Up Your Position: Major Keys From The #NABJRegionIIChi Conference

The greatest investment is always the one you make in yourself.

In my most recent post, I talked about my experience at my first NABJ Conference that I attended in Chicago and I’m back again with some major keys that I picked up. Enjoy!

On Money Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make in the Gig Economy

“You have to crawl before you walk.” – Micah Materre

Moderator: Micah Materre, WGN-TV Chicago

Panelists: Khoa X. Ho, Vice President of Investor Services of Ariel Investments and Darryl Newell, Vice President of Seaway Bank

So as we know, the world of journalism/writing/media is based on gig after gig. You have to hustle. You will switch jobs often unless you’re lucky enough to find stability. Regardless, you want to be as financially literate as you can. The panelists discussed everything from paying off student loans to investing in stocks. They said a journalist needs 3 things to survive in the gig economy, such as

A) Time on your side (start budgeting and saving early)

B) You need to be disciplined when it comes to spending.

C) You cannot succumb to momentary greed.

As far as debt, both panelists suggested tackling debt with the highest interest rate first. They also suggested getting a credit card that has the lowest interest rate as possible, as well as making at least two payments a month on your credit card bill to reduce your principle. If you are looking to build credit, they suggested on starting out with a secure credit card.

Other tips included:

  • Don’t spend more than 15% of your gross income (money after taxes are taken out) on consumer debt (loans, credit card debt, etc.)
  • No more than 28% of your gross income should be spent on housing. Fellow attendees shared tips on saving on housing in different places including searching on Craigslist for apartments of rooms in a home that have utilities included.
  • You should have at least 6 to 9 months of an emergency saved up and don’t be afraid to save for retirement once you save up.
  • When it comes to stocks, you should only invest in what you know. Think of yourself as a business partner whatever company you invest in. And remember, when you are investing, the results will not be fast.

On the Student and Early Career Journalist Forum


Tonya Francisco, Anchor/Reporter WGN-TV


Audrina Bigos, Reporter from CBS 2

George Lara, Director of Internships and Mentorships at Chicago Public Media

Leah Hope, Reporter from ABC7

Darleen Glanton, Columnist from the Chicago Tribune

This panel was all about ways to build a solid career in the ever-changing journalism world of journalism and some really great advice was given. Since (most)  internships are now legally mandated by federal law to be paid, that means they are even more scarce. Below are some tips on how to get your name out there.

“Start out small and gradually work your way up.” – Darleen Glanton

“Pitch. Pitch. PITCH. That’s how you get better.” – George Lara

“In this business, you are NOT a single entity, so stay connected.” – Tonya Francisco

Audrina Bigos, the youngest on the panel talked a little bit about ageism.

“Even though I am the youngest, I bring something to the table. So don’t be discouraged by your age, because experience outweighs that,” she said.

We also discussed the work that goes into getting a great story. Darleen Glanton said that “You have to be able to talk to people and try to grab the essence of who they are. Be apart of that community and dig.”

“Think about what is the best medium for this story.” – George Lara

“Remember that every story has a different pace and different emotion.” – Audrina Bigos

“Create stories within your lives, your families, your communities. Start small and develop your voice.” – Leah Hope.

One of the attendees in the room asked a question about journalists pursuing graduate school after receiving their bachelors. Here’s what our panelists had to say.

“Grad school is an option if you missed your opportunity in undergrad, such as internships.” – Tonya Francisco *personal opinion*

“More than a degree, they want to see your experience.” – Leah Hope

“A lot of times, its fear that makes people go to grad school. If you’re driven by fear, turn that fear into action.” – Audrina Bigos.

 On New Jobs In The Digital Age and What You Need to Get Them

Moderator: Art Norman, from NBC 5

Natasha Alford, Deputy Editor of TheGrio.com

Kathy Chaneym Managing Editor-Print of EBONY Magazine

Felecia Henderson, Assistant Managing Editor of the Detroit News

Arionne Nettles Digital Managing Editor of the Chicago Defender

*Special guest: Dr. Renee Ferguson

This panel was full of Black Girl Magic and by far my favorite. You can watch the Facebook Live recording I did of it by clicking this link here.

Some major keys:

“Learn how to do everything, and learn the business side of the business.” – Kathy Chaney

“Understand all platforms. Be comfortable in WordPress and other content managing systems.” – Arionne Nettles

“Success has many different paths, it does not look the same for every person.” – Dr. Renee Ferguson

I’m so grateful to have been able to attend this conference. There is nothing more inspiring than being in the same room as those who started exactly where I am as a student of the craft and to see them excel and progress in their own ways. ♥

Were you at the #NABJRegionIIChi Conference? 

What did you learn while there? 

Who did you connect with?

Make sure you either answer in the comments or tweet me your feedback @KiaSmithWrites

You may also like

Leave a Reply