Uloop (@uloop) started in 2007 as an online marketplace for students to get the things they need most everyday: textbooks, apartments, jobs, etc. Since then, they’ve been expanding their offerings to better serve their student users, and this year, they are taking on their biggest new innovation yet: the Uloop Student News Network (USSN).
Karl Hughes, Director of Student News, is currently recruiting students all across the country to join the USSN. Uloop hires one Campus Editor at each college, and allows them to hand pick their own team of Local Writers to report the news and opinions that are most important at their school. Apply to be a campus editor here, or a local writer here.
1. How did you get started in the industry? How can someone who is interested in your work get started?
I got into online publishing as a hobby in college. I had my own blog for a few months when I decided to start a group blog on campus. I knew at least a dozen other students who blogged on campus, so I figured that if we combined forces, we might be able to attract more readers. A few months later, I had over 80 writers contributing every two weeks. It took a lot of hard work and I didn’t make a dime doing it, but it was a much better learning experience than any classroom. A few months later, Uloop found out what I was doing at the University of Tennessee, and asked me if I could do it for them full time.
My encouragement to those who want to start their career in online publishing is to just start writing. Keep a personal blog, but more importantly, get your name out there on larger blogs and social media as much as you can. A big part of this industry has become personal branding and networking. Experience as an intern will help you get both of these things.
2. What’s the future of your industry?
While traditional print newspapers have seen circulation fall drastically over the past two decades, online news delivery is in high demand. Tablets, smart phones, and e-readers are making it even easier for readers to access news online. That said, the industry is still facing some big challenges. The most notable question is “how can we effectively monetize traffic?” Because of shrinking budgets, fewer writers are being asked to do more work, and job openings as a journalist or editor have become very competitive.
3. What do you look for when you hire an intern or entry-level candidate?
Because Uloop is a relatively new (founded in 2007) internet startup company, our culture is very entrepreneurial. We look for interns and employees who can self-manage themselves and have a clear passion for their job. The top qualities we look for are communication (both written and verbal), organization, passion, and drive. We also look for new hires with a diverse background who tend to be natural leaders, but also open to guidance. Many of our employees work remotely, so we have to know that we can trust them to hold themselves to a high standard of productivity – even when no one is watching.
4. What is one thing an intern can do to make a favorable impression?
Be interesting and confident. When we interview interns, we want to know what separates them from their peers. If we can tell that the student believes in our mission and knows that they can do what we ask of them, then we’ll find a way to include them on our team.
5. Can you share a positive intern story and an intern horror story? No names needed…
The Good: One of our interns started with us before our news platform even did. She wrote articles for our blog for a few months, and when we started expanding into student news, she was an obvious choice to lead her campus as an editor. When she showed promise in that role, we promoted her again, and she now works with us as our Assistant National Editor. We like to promote people from within the organization, and because we’re growing so fast, positions are often created just to keep our best talent on the team.
If you’re a writer, you know how important building your portfolio and increasing exposure is to your career. Becoming a writer or editor at the USNN will allow your work to be seen by millions of our student readers every year. We also republish many of our articles on USA Today and the Huffington Post, so there’s a chance you’ll get to see your work reach an even bigger audience as well. Another benefit is the opportunity to meet other writers and editors virtually across the country. Increasing the size of your network is one of the best professional moves you can make, so we encourage interaction among our interns.