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Someone who wants to become a foreign correspondent has a number of ways to pursue this career. The important thing to be aware of is that journalism is a competitive industry, and slots for foreign correspondents are hotly contested. Not least, this is because many media organizations are cutting down on their budgets and are subsequently reducing the number of overseas correspondents they maintain, downsizing or eliminating foreign bureaus, and sourcing syndicated material for foreign news coverage. This makes it more difficult to find a job than ever before.
Some people interested in journalism careers start by going to school. Programs in journalism are offered at numerous colleges and universities. A student who wants to become a foreign correspondent could take the coursework while also working on internship and job opportunities to gain work experience. Many journalists say that while journalism school can be valuable, and a degree can help to get a job, practical experience is key, and the sooner people start working, the better.
After completing journalism school, a would-be foreign correspondent can apply to a specific news agency. It is not uncommon to be placed locally at first, and to be relocated to a foreign bureau later. Journalists who are not demanding about destinations are more likely to find work they like. Instead of insisting on being posted to a short list of locations, someone who wants to become a foreign correspondent should indicate general interest. Having foreign language skills and travel experience also helps.
Other people opt to enter the market as freelancers. Some freelance foreign correspondents are graduates of journalism schools, while others have simply worked their way up in the field to become a foreign correspondent. Freelancers usually relocate and pitch stories from their location. With experience, a freelancer may eventually be able to pitch stories which involve traveling to new places, using clippings and references as supporting evidence to show that they will be able to generate a good story.
Whether freelance or not, someone who wants to become a foreign correspondent needs to be prepared to always be looking for the next story and subject of interest. It is critical to be several steps ahead to catch breaking news while following social trends which may yield longer, more expository pieces. Even when a journalist is not working on a specific job, he or she should be observing, writing, photographing, making interviews, and amassing material for the next story.