College Media Geeks: Harley Strickland, Georgia Southern University

College is often a time to find your passion and find a way to turn that into a job and maybe a career. For Harley Strickland that passion is communication and journalism, and her path involved a pageant stage. In addition to winning the Miss Georgia Southern title, she completed an internship at Savannah station WTOC, which she transitioned into a full-time job.

Here she explains her unusual path and offers tips on finding your path and passion.

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You are quoted elsewhere saying that participating in pageants helped you improve your communication skills? How so?

I was very shy when I was younger. I began doing pageants to build my communication skills and confidence. The interviews for pageants can be very difficult at times and I think some people don’t understand that. I competed at the Miss Georgia pageant three times and I did many local pageants and each interview was different. Some interviews would be personal while others were strictly political and current events questions. I had to really study the news and current events going on in the world and how to communicate those events in an interview. These interviews made me more and more comfortable in front of people and speaking to people.

How do you think pursuing journalism has helped you not just in the pageant world, but also in developing as a leader and a person?

To me, a leader is someone who is confident and helps others. A leader helps others by not tearing them down but building them up and lending them a hand. That’s also what journalism can be at times. In the journalism world it’s all about telling someone’s story and trying to help them. Communicating and telling their story to an audience, which would be the viewers. I love breaking news, but the heartwarming stories of people helping each other are my ultimate favorite. Having these stories has helped him in the pageant world and helped me have real experiences that some contestants do not have. I also spoke about my servant’s heart in interviews and that is something I can offer in the news industry as well.

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What is your favorite piece or broadcast you’ve done while at Georgia Southern?

Oh gosh! I have so many!

A few semesters ago I was able to cover the Evans County Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival which is held in my hometown. My family also helped start the festival fifty years ago. This past March, (a year after this video) I was asked to help co-host the parade which is live on WTOC. Here is a link to my video…

Another story I did was a short piece for a class project. It was a profile video and I covered a story on Sara McCorkle, a girl I went to high school with.

Evans County Traveling Potty package. This is another one that was fun to create because it was in my hometown and something that was very interesting.

Many college journalists struggle to find employment after they graduate. What do you think you did to land your job at WTOC fresh out of college?

I completed an internship at WTOC this past summer. I went into the internship treating it as a job interview because I wanted to work at WTOC because it was my local news source. I came in on time, was ready to learn new things, and wasn’t afraid to work hard each day. By doing this, it showed the organization that I wanted to work at WTOC and I was willing to work hard. I treated the summer as a job interview and it turns out that I got the job I worked hard for.

I would suggest getting an internship and taking every opportunity to learn. The more skills you have and the more you learn from others, the better off you are!

Why do you think that journalism still matters?

Journalism will always matter in my opinion because it’s the number one thing people do. We communicate. Everyday we call people and talk to them. We talk about what is going on in the world, what our city is doing, what the school system is doing, ect. Journalism is reporting facts and keeping everyone informed. The newspapers are always laying on our coffee tables, in barber shops, or even in doctor’s offices. The television is on when we eat our breakfast or when something major happens in the world. We expect the newspapers and television to be there when we need information and we trust the people reporting it to us. It’s as if we form a bond with anchors and reporters.

What is your six-word memoir?

Everyone starts somewhere. Never give up.

Harley’s Reel

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