What is the Yale Journalism Initiative (YJI)?

The YJI is a program to help prepare a small number of elite students for careers in journalism. It involves an advanced English seminar in journalism, taught by an experienced professional journalist; a summer internship, for which funding is available; writing for campus publications; and other relevant coursework. Successful completion of the program earns a student the designation Yale Journalism Scholar. More information can be found here.

Is the YJI a journalism major?

No. Yale does not offer pre-professional majors like pre-law, pre-med, or journalism. It is our belief that the best preparation for a career in journalism is a broad-based liberal arts education. Future journalists can come from any major: English, history, chemistry, African American Studies, philosophy, German, geology—anything at all. The YJI is designed to expose students to the principles of journalism and get them professional experience, not to be a full course of academic study. For what it’s worth, our experience indicates that editors, when hiring recent college graduates, prefer Yale’s approach.

When can I apply for the YJI?

Application to English 467, the prerequisite class for the YJI, should be made sophomore or junior year, using the usual course application procedures for advanced English seminars. Seniors may apply, too, and may be accepted, but the program is designed to work best for sophomores and juniors. Freshmen should not apply.

I am a top campus journalist—why was I turned down for English 467?

English 467 receives dozens of applications every semester, and the professor can accept only a fraction of the students who apply. As with every class, admission is at the discretion of the professor, who may consider students’ past classes taken, a writing sample, reasons for wanting to take the class, and the composition of the student body in the class. There is no secret pipeline into the class, no special handshake, and no possibility of increasing your chances of admission by corresponding with the professor in advance of the class. It’s just a matter of numbers: fifty or more applicants, about fifteen spots. Every semester, some very accomplished campus journalists do not get into the class.

I was turned down for English 467—can I still get into the YJI?

No, not officially. You must take English 467 to be in the YJI and eventually to be designated a Yale Journalism Scholar. However, Mark Oppenheimer, who provides the career counseling for the YJI, is still happy to speak, by appointment, with any Yale student or graduate who is pursuing a career in journalism. His number is (203) 432-8650.

Can the YJI get me a job?

Let’s put it this way: graduates of Yale with strong writing skills and an interest in journalism have a superb record of success in the profession. This has been true since well before the YJI was founded. The YJI represents a further enhanced commitment to help students join that tradition. A glimpse at our alumni page gives some idea of how our recent graduates have done.

So how do I get an internship or job?

A great place to start, before making an appointment with the YJi coordinator, is our jobs page. Spend some time with it. Browse the links. Investigate the nooks and crannies of the links. You’ll learn a lot, and any future discussions with the YJI coordinator, or with the fine people at Career Services, will be much more fruitful.

How do I join the YJI panlist?

Email Simone Seiver and Isabelle Taft with “Add to YJI” in the subject line.

I am currently a student at Yale who wants to bring a journalist to campus for a Tea. Can the YJI help?

If the guest is appropriate for a YJI event, we may wish to collaborate on the visit and assist with funding. Reach out to Simone Seiver and Isabelle Taft with your request. There are some funds available to defray the costs of transportation for the visiting journalist. In addition, the YJI occasionally organizes and pays for lunches with campus visitors who work in journalism. An additional resource for you may be the Poynter Fellowship, which helps supports campus visits from “distinguished reporters, editors and others who have made important contributions to the media.” You can reach Poynter here.

What role does the YJI have with alumni?

We encourage alumni to keep in touch. Send us your career updates, favorite clips and tips for aspiring journalists, and we can add them to your bio listed here. We can also refer you to job openings via the panlist. And as alumni who are working or have worked in the field, you’re better equipped than anyone else to offer advice to undergraduates. If you’re interested in talking with current students, we can put you in touch with them, and if you’d like to visit campus to meet a group, have a meal or give a talk, we can make that happen.

I’m an employer—what can the YJI do for me?

We’re eager to partner with employers who want to reach YJI students, and YJI students are eager to meet you. We can help organize campus visits for your recruiters, distribute information about job openings, and answer any questions you may have about Yale students’ preparation for journalism jobs.