What does the turkeyshooting process involve?
Every section’s turkeyshoot process is a little bit different, but each person who applies for a position will be required to do three things:
Shadow the current position-holder(s) to get a feel for the job.
Submit a written proposal outlining goals and ideas for his or her top-choice position.
Be interviewed by the outgoing members of the managing board in late November or early December.
In general, the higher the position, the more strenuous the process (harder shadowing requirements, longer proposals, longer interviews, etc.).
Please refer to the following documents if you are shooting for the:
What’s the shadowing process like?
Again, it varies quite a bit from section to section. If you’re applying for an editorial position, you’ll normally be asked to come in a handful of nights over the course of November to work with the person who currently holds the job you’re applying for. You may also be asked to attend some of the meetings and do some of the non-nightly tasks (scheduling, corresponding with writers, etc.) that person would normally complete. If you’re applying for a business position, you’ll meet with some of the current members of the business board after the application deadline, who will lay out specific shadowing tasks on a case-by-case basis.
Toward the end of the process, most sections will also conduct some combination of an edit/knowledge/ethics test. Don’t freak out about this—it’s by no means a complete (or even all that accurate) measurement of your eligibility for a position. It mostly exists to give the board some idea of your experience level at Spectator and will be considered alongside many other factors in the turkeyshoot process.
What about the proposal?
This is your opportunity to state, in concise terms, your goals, ideas, and hopes for the position you’re running for. In some cases (e.g., associate editorships), the job responsibilities are pretty clearly laid out for you, while in others (e.g., corporate board positions), it’s a bit more nebulous. All jobs, however, will benefit from a thoughtful and clear vision on the part of the applicant. The specific proposal requirements will be made clear over the next month by each section editor.
As far as length, that depends on the level of position you’re applying for. The approximate page ranges are:
Associate level — 2-4 pages
Deputy level — 5-10 pages
Managing board — 10-15 pages
Corporate board — 15-20 pages
Whatever you do, don’t feel obligated to write up to the maximum page limit. Each year, proposals from successful candidates fall several pages short of the cap. Leave out the fluff and cut to the point—the board will have more than a hundred proposals to read. We want to hear your substantive ideas. It’s what you say—not how long you take to say it—that matters most.
Where can I see old proposals?
Proposals going back more than a decade can be found in the 423 closet, where they are organized into binders from each year. Anyone is welcome to look at them as long as the binders stay organized and hard copies remain in the Spectator office (but feel free to make your own copies). These archives aren’t perfect—if there’s a proposal you want to read that doesn’t appear to be there, let us know and we’ll help you track it down. A collection of proposals going back four years will be put in a Drive folder and sent to candidates.
And the interview?
As anyone who’s ever gone through a turkeyshoot will tell you, the interview can be a little nerve-racking. That’s more or less unavoidable, but don’t start sweating it out just yet. The questions will draw almost exclusively on things you’ve learned about during the shadowing process (or during your time at Spectator), and the board members will be composed of people you more or less know. It’s primarily a chance for the board to get to know who you are and what you’re about before they make their decisions.
Will I be able to balance this process with the rest of my life?
Yes. The turkeyshoot process is intended to prepare you for a new position at Spectator, not to needlessly test your stamina. Although we expect all candidates to take the process seriously—to think and work hard—we also understand that candidates have busy schedules. Current Speccies running for new positions, for instance, already have important responsibilities at the newspaper, and so it would be counterproductive to mandate unmanageable turkeyshoot requirements.
That is not to say that turkeyshooting is an easy process. Although there is variation in terms of the time commitment required—associates will spend much less time shadowing then managing board members—anyone running for a new position is expected to learn as much as he or she can in order to produce a thorough and compelling proposal. That is to say, though, that the turkeyshoot process should be only as difficult and as time-consuming as is actually beneficial—it is not about jumping through hoops.
All that said, if at any time you feel overwhelmed, please speak with your section editors, the staff director, or to a member of the CB. We’ll figure out some way to make things more manageable.
I’m a new staff member. What should I run for?
Anyone is eligible to run for any position, but it’s most common for new staff members to be hired to associate-level positions. Here’s the typical breakdown of what Spec staffers apply for:
1-3 semesters experience — associate level
2-5 semesters experience — deputy level
3-5 semesters experience — managing board level
5 semesters experience — corporate board level
That said, there have certainly been exceptions to this pattern in the past. If you have any questions about what qualifies as an associate, deputy, managing, or corporate-level position, ask your section editor.
Can I run for more than one position?
Yes. You can run for up to three positions and should rank them by order of preference when you sign up online. In the beginning of the process, we would suggest registering to shadow for any job you think you might be interested in. But because you can write only one proposal, you should decide on your top-choice position by early-November.
Can I run for positions in more than one section?
Yes. But, as with anyone who runs for more than one position, you’ll be able to write only one proposal for one position.
If I’ve run for a position in the past and didn’t get it, is it worth running again?
Yes! The turkeyshoot board is completely different from year to year, so we’ll be looking at every candidate with fresh eyes. And chances are that you’ve grown as a candidate in the past year. So yes, run again!
I don’t want to be an editor, but I do want to get more involved in Spec next semester. Are there any options for me?
Yes. There are plenty of positions for writers, bloggers, photographers, illustrators, graphic designers, web developers, and members of the business staff that do not require a rigorous turkeyshooting process. Speak to a section editor, the staff director, or a member of the CB to talk through your options.
I’m not sure yet whether I want to run for a position. What should I do?
Talk to your section editor or one of the members of the corporate board. Fill out an interest sheet and start the shadowing process. You can drop out at any time, and even if you don’t end up running, you’ll learn something from the process.
Is shadowing supposed to be about learning new skills or proving myself capable?
More the former than the latter. We rely mostly on your proposal and interview to understand your vision for your section. Although shadowing tasks can help us see how you might do the job you’re running for on a day-to-day basis, we also take into consideration how much you’ve grown over the semester and during shadowing, so don’t feel like you have to be perfect at everything from the beginning.
Mostly, we’re looking for hard-working, smart people who love Spectator and want to make it better. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to improve your chances is go above and beyond at the job you have now. If you want more specific feedback on what sort of skills you’re being judged on and what you need to improve on, talk to your section editor—he or she can give you some thoughts and feedback.
I’m really uncomfortable with how the turkeyshoot process is going—I feel like I’m being treated unfairly or someone else is being favored. Who can I talk to?
We hope you will never feel this way, but if you do, please do not hesitate to speak with Jessica (editor in chief), Aaron (managing editor), Michael (publisher), or Hannah (staff director). Turkeyshooting can be stressful, but it shouldn’t be unfair or overtaxing. We will work to address your concerns.