How She Got There: Jo Ling Kent, Fox Business Correspondent

Name: Jo Ling Kent
Age: 30
Job Title and Description: Correspondent. I cover the global technology sector and China for FOX Business Network.
College Name/Major: Rice University, BA in History, Asian Studies and Policy Studies; Fulbright Scholarship to China; London School of Economics, Masters in International Affairs; Peking University, Masters in International Affairs
Website: foxbusiness.com
Twitter Handle: @jolingkent

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Jo Ling Kent: There is never a typical day. When I am at Fox Business HQ in midtown Manhattan, I'm in the office around 6 AM reading and working on my stories. I go on the air at 9 AM with anchor Maria Bartiromo for her show, Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo. I usually report on every Fox Business show during market hours, including Varney & Company with Stuart Varney, Risk & Reward with Deirdre Bolton, Money with Melissa Francis and Countdown to the Closing Bell with Liz Claman. I also tape a business-focused package story that airs on local Fox affiliates around the country and file a few radio reports. Often, I do a live report for Fox News at some point during the day and pitch in on Neil Cavuto's Fox Business show.

If I'm on the road in Silicon Valley, my alarm goes off at 3 AM local time and we're on the air by 7:30 AM with live interviews and reports all day.

In between, I'm on the phone talking to sources, booking interviews and researching stories for the next day, week and month. I'm addicted to Twitter, too.

What is the best part of your job?

JLK: Working with a smart and savvy team of journalists, breaking stories and interviewing business leaders like General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma. I also love meeting with start-up founders and getting to know their stories.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

JLK: My first gig after college was translating Chinese interviews for correspondents and writing web stories for ABC News' Beijing bureau. I met then-bureau chief Chito Romana when I first arrived in Beijing and offered to help out. He gave me a chance to get into the field and dig up interesting stories in China. I worked with a talented team who showed me a lot about how to get things done in the field. I covered the 2008 Olympics, the 2008 Taiwan presidential election and the Sichuan earthquake.

After graduate school at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), I planned to go to law school. I had already put down my deposit when an associate producer job at CNN's Beijing bureau opened up. I applied, got hired, moved back to China and spent two years covering everything that happened in Mainland China. We traveled to nearly every province in China and filed stories non-stop. I ended up getting hooked on journalism and eventually decided not to pursue law school.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?

JLK: I used to think my reporting for the web was less important than what correspondents did on the air. I wish I knew back in 2006 that online journalism was equally integral.

You’ll be covering the midterm elections this November! How do you prepare for reporting on such a big story?

JLK: A lot of research, phone calls and teamwork with our producers and anchors at Fox Business Network. I love covering elections. I reported on the 2012 presidential campaigns with NBC News as an embedded reporter. So I have been calling sources from those days on the campaign trail to get up to speed. And of course, there's no substitute for getting to know voters.

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

JLK: Just get out there and do it. Be humble. And meet as many people as you can.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

JLK: One mistake? Try a lot more than that! When transitioning from being a producer to an on-air reporter, I worked in Hartford for NBC Connecticut. I had almost no idea of how to be a good local reporter. At the beginning, I was objectively terrible. Thankfully, because I worked at such a great station with supportive colleagues, I learned from the best and tried to make progress quickly.

It might have helped that I was not afraid of putting myself out there and I would work any extra shift I could get. My favorite was the Sunday 3:30 AM shift (which is basically Saturday night) with cameraman Mark Hahn. It was a humbling experience and I made a plenty of mistakes, but it ended up being one of the best years of my professional life.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

JLK: One of my favorite moments recently was interviewing Alibaba co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma live on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The company dominates e-commerce in China and was the biggest initial public offering in history. It was also the ultimate intersection of my two beats: technology and China.

The most surreal moment of my career was arriving on the scene of the Newtown school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. No words can describe the horror and sadness that strong community and its families have endured. I am still in awe of their grace and strength.

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

JLK: I'm not in charge of hiring but the top qualities I look for in a colleague are intelligence, grit, curiosity, energy, motivation and a sense of humor. And a taste for adventure!

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

JLK: Go into the field and do original reporting as soon as you can on a topic you care a lot about. If that's China, Chile or Silicon Valley, figure out a way to get there and churn out stories with a news organization or on your own. Master the local language. Nothing can substitute for being on the ground and building sources. Come to think of it, this probably applies to a variety of industries outside journalism, too.

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