Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm Just Not an Alluring Girl

My first college job was way back when, in 1999. After attending Duke's work-study job fair for eager freshmen, I decided I would try my hand working at Duke Recycles. It sounded cool and idealistic, assisting in improving the university's recycling efforts. I lasted two days.

The assisting was a bit too hands on. My first day, I was outside in the hot sun in front of a huge mound of glass bottles and soda cans, hosing them down so they'd be clean enough to be recycled. My second day was spent in a garbage truck collecting the trash from recycling bins around campus. It may have been elitist, but I felt that I hadn't come to college to be a garbageman. After a brief flirtation with camera-work, taping Duke football practice sessions, I settled into a great three-year-long job at Duke Hospital, testing the hearing of newborn babies.

My first job in journalism school has been a similar flop. I started interning with Allure Magazine. Again, I lasted two days.

I had some doubts about a beauty magazine being the right fit for me. But the internship fell into my lap, so I went with it. The first day was quite interesting, with one editor walking around the office on a rampage, screaming and cursing. There were some choice expressions that I'd love to include here... but will choose not to out of a mixture of caution and fear. Very The Devil Wears Prada.

The second day, I was given a writing assignment for the December issue, which was awesome. But as I interviewed a beauty expert about manicure tips, it bothered me that hard-hitting journalism this was not.

So... onto the next thing. Interning at The Week! "All You Need to Know About Everything That Matters."

In other news, my journalism school is getting dinged for "backward thinking" by an undergraduate student on PBS Media Shift. I thought the merits of her original article were questionable. Poor sourcing, and written after just one meeting of the class. What kind of research is that?

But Romenesko picked it up and now it's getting quite a lot of buzz. We haven't discussed it much on campus, but I have a feeling a forum is coming soon. The general attitude among my friends in the graduate program is that the undergraduate student has poor judgment-- in a number of ways. And that we're at NYU J School to learn how to best tell stories, not how to Twitter. The cutting-edge fad stuff can be self-taught and has a limited shelf life. But the ability to craft a compelling narrative is an evergreen skill. That's what we're there for.

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