Heading off to the Asian American Journalists Association convention this week. This is the annual mecca for AA journalists from print, radio, TV and now multimedia. We get together, we meet, we commiserate, we share, we re-connect, we get our work critiqued, we do all the stereotypical things that AA's do including karaoke and Korean BBQ.

All in all, not an event to be missed. 

Of course there are also a number of career development panels and plenaries and workshops that help us strengthen our reporting skills, and provide places to talk about what's wrong and what's right with the industry. It's a place to reinvigorate ourselves and remind each other why we shouldn't go into PR for a billion dollar tech company.

I joined AAJA when I was in college, and I applied for every scholarship and student project available. The organization has given me so many things: mentors, money, and my first job.

I was at the 2000 convention in New York, carrying a bag full of resumes and VHS tapes. Yes, V.H.S. That was how we used to do it, kids. Big, bulky, plastic tapes with covers that held 10 minutes of our best work. I was diligently patrolling the floor, meeting with news directors and taking notes and passing out my resume. So Earnestly. I was hungry for that first job and dagnabbit I was going to move anywhere to get it.

I happen to run into Craig Hume. At the time, he was the general manager for Central Florida News 13. He was cordial and seemed interested enough after I introduced myself in one giant run on sentence, "Hi-I'm Vicky-and-I'm-looking-for-my-first-reporting-job. Are-you-hiring-even-if-not-would-you-please-look-at-my-tape-I-would-love-your-feedback-it's-very-nice-to-meet-you.

My lung capacity apparently impressed him enough to say, "Sure I'd be glad to take a look at your tape."

Me: !!!

Him: "But I don't have a VCR at my booth."

Me: Thinking fast. "Well, I just walked by the CBS booth and they had several VCR's and it looked like they were available. No one was sitting there." Willing him with my mind to follow me down the crowded convention floor to the CBS booth.

Him: "OK."

So I'm walking sideways and forwards, fast and slow at the same time, trying to politely propel him forward and not lose him the crowd, making small talk, looking over my shoulder.

Eventually we made it to the VCR station. Empty, thankfully. And Craig watched my tape for a few minutes, popped it out of the VCR and told me he would Fed Ex it to his news director and that I should expect her call in a few days.

Two phone interviews and three weeks later I was shopping for a futon and some really cheap furniture for my $425/month apartment.

AAJA, thank you for taking my foot and getting the rest of me in the door.

Vicky Nguyen2 Comments