QUESTION: What should I teach myself during winter break?

I have one month to learn a new skill, or skills, during winter break. Therefore, I would like to take a survey to see what skills would most benefit someone graduating in May.

Some background: I will be an online intern at The Dallas Morning News this summer (see related post), a position that focuses on writing and video (mostly breaking news and enterprise).

My career goal is to work as a multimedia reporter.

I have some degree of proficiency in each of the following (in no particular order):

  • Writing and reporting
  • Media law and ethics
  • AP style
  • Video content gathering and editing
  • Audio content gathering and editing
  • Photography and photo editing
  • Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign
  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Content and community management
  • SEO (more than basic)
  • Flash (I currently know enough to make this portfolio site)
  • JavaScript (fairly basic, I know how to use libraries)
  • Spanish (studied for seven years)

Here are some ideas for what I could learn:

What do you think?

Or should I simply work on improving some of the skills I already have? I’m taking a video class in the spring to further refine those skills, so I probably won’t focus on video during break.

If there’s another skill you think would be valuable, please let me know. I will probably focus on one, maybe two depending on the intensity of the primary skill.

A couple of my visual journalism professors have recommended learning XML and more Flash, specifically focusing on AS3.

Personally, I’m learning towards database and CAR stuff.

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions in comments below, with a brief explanation of why.


Update, Dec. 22: Apparently one of my plugins broke the comment feature, so no one has been able to respond so far. Fortunately, Twitter came to the rescue!

Almost all of the recommendations have been for learning more about databases and CAR, as well as SEO.

9 thoughts on “QUESTION: What should I teach myself during winter break?”

  1. haha I’ve been trying to decide the same thing myself. My list is currently down to:
    computer related: RoR, JS, Flash
    photography related: lighting with strobes, portraits…

    who knows what else. Looking forward to seeing what you’ve decided on! :) good luck!

  2. Thanks! Almost everyone who responded (via Twitter since the comment feature was temporarily broken) voted for databases and CAR, plus a little SEO. Also, Swahili, haha.

    For computer-related, I would recommend JS and then Flash before RoR.

    Good luck to you too!

  3. How about you just chillax and enjoy the break? You’ve got your internship. That’s when you prove your worth and network and learn new techniques…

  4. hey there … relaxing is prolly the hardest skill to learn. luckily, u wont need it for a very long time, haha, so try to enjoy it a bit when u can. i would say focus on CAR for yr writing; then flash, becuz it’s pretty hard and it would be impressive to have that kind of skill in combination w/writing and critical thinking. right now the best thing to do is broaden yr abilities — w/out getting too scattered — since you’ll be able to use all of that in other places. good luck!

  5. Now that break is coming to a close, here’s a brief summary of what I learned:

    -SEO (went into more depth using
    -XML (
    -AS3 (a learned a good bit more about how it works and how to edit it during Beyond Boootcamp)
    -Infographics and online infographics (from Beyond Bootcamp)
    -Audio (some new tips and tricks at Beyond Bootcamp)

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