The next generation of journalists graduated in 2020 into a challenging job market unlike any other. We spotlighted them this summer, shared advice from their role models, and are checking in with them this month to see where they are now and what they’re learning about journalism.
Name: Sam Cabral
School: Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism
Current job: News team, BBC North America
New wackiest story: A group chat with 13 Trump voters and 12 Biden voters
Where are you working right now? Is the position full-time, part-time or an internship?
Cabral: I am currently working with the BBC North America news team in Washington, D.C. I began on the audience engagement team as a short-term contractor to help supplement their election coverage, but I’ve been on their news desk lately, covering everything from breaking news to longer feature pieces.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job search?
Cabral: Keep the faith! Especially when it’s the hardest to have faith and you keep getting rejected. The minute you lose faith, it will be reflected in your application and — if you make it to one – your interview. Try and keep trying. Things ALWAYS work out eventually.
What’s been your best moment in journalism since graduation?
Cabral: Graduating in the middle of a pandemic has been weird, because I haven’t been out in the field as much as I’d like to be. But this has also given me an opportunity to be innovative and, in my current role, I’ve conducted voter focus groups and conversations over Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp. This has given me access to new forms of storytelling.
What do you wish you had learned as a student that you’re learning on the job?
Cabral: Slow news cycles are actually one of the best times to shine. Things seem dull and lazy at first, and everybody tends to be rather laidback, so that is a good opportunity to jump in with your ideas or mention stories that you think should be covered. There’s always a story waiting to be told.
Have your journalism goals changed since graduation, and if so how?
Cabral: My long-term goal of being broadcast talent remains the same, but I’m more willing now to look at different ways to reach that end goal and to approach more non-traditional ways of working in broadcast. In a nutshell, being a part of the workforce has given me more confidence in my abilities and shown me where my strengths lie, so now it’s time to capitalize on it.
What’s the NEW wackiest story you’ve ever worked on?
Cabral: On the morning of Election Day, we set up a WhatsApp group chat with 13 Trump voters and 12 Biden voters. Within the hour, they came unglued arguing over mask-wearing and only got crazier as we went on. By the third day, the chat was flooded with so much disinformation about “voter fraud” that we ultimately shut it down. But the comments, exchanges, and diatribes in those 50 hours the chat was open were truly eye-opening in so many ways. Unfortunately, I cannot say it gave me much hope for the future of this country, but they all united in roasting me for not being a coffee drinker! Plus we got some really great visual stories out of the chat.
How are you taking care of yourself and staying motivated right now?
Cabral: I am taking the time to enjoy myself outside of work more. I listen to music as much as I can, make time to watch TV or cook or work out, and love to do some light traveling (masked and socially distanced of course!). It helps to have a roommate I can joke around with too.
I’m looking forward to the new year and a much less chaotic president. And it helps to have vaccines on the way that may finally help us navigate our way out of this pandemic. I am an eternal optimist, but now feels like a great time to be an optimist.