Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ignoring the signs

In the weeks leading up to my move to New York, my friends were happy for me. "It's where you're supposed to be," they said.

My parents agreed to help me front the costs. "It's where you're supposed to be," they said.

My relatives were supportive, sending me well wishes and sometimes handing me a 20-dollar bill. "It's where you're supposed to be," they said.

Every time I got this line, I nodded my head in affirmation and delivered some cliché "I know, I can feel it in my heart," emphatically placing my hand across my chest. I'm not sure if I was attempting to confirm their predictions or reassure myself, but those six words began to feel like a death wish. "It's where you're supposed to be."

Well, what if it's not?

When I finally touched down at LaGuardia in May, I still wasn't sure. I had just paid $150 at check-in at Southwest Airlines because my bags were 85 pounds overweight. What if that was a sign? My landlord at my new apartment in Austin had cashed my security deposit check, while I was on the plane. Down another $200. What if that was a sign? My phone died before I could get my new address up on my phone for the taxi driver. What if that was a sign? The taxi driver wiped me out of another $60. What if that was a sign? When I showed up to my dorm, I realized I was going to be living out of cardboard box for the next two months. OH GOD, THESE ARE DEFINITELY SIGNS.

That type of thinking defined my first couple of days in the city. I was nervous, excited, ready for new things, but most of all wondering if coming to New York was even a good idea at all.

Two months later, I'm glad I ignored the signs (if anything, those incidents only made me recognize the true discrepancy between New York's definition and my own understanding of the word "broke"). I have settled in at my internship, made music in living rooms, laughed with friends over some good pizza, drank my share of wine, eaten plenty of good food, biked the streets of Manhattan, and danced with hippies on the beach, to name a few.

But mostly, I've just spent all of my money.

I'm still not sure where I'll end up when I graduate. If anything, New York has made that all the more confusing, because I've come to find out that passion plants seeds no matter its final destination.

So here's to temporary, heart-wrenching investments, ice cream trucks at every corner in Midtown, and the final two weeks of this program. May my final days continue to elusively glimmer at the end of my summer subway tunnel.

Because I'm where I'm supposed to be.

For now.

—Written by Jane Claire Hervey, University of Texas at Austin, Reader's Digest
—Edited by Lindsey Murray, Temple University, Real Simple

Monday, July 28, 2014

Like Father, Like Daughter: Emma Weissmann Follows in Dad's Footsteps

Weissmann with her father at Baha'i Temple in Israel. 
You could say that Emma Weissmann was born to intern for National Geographic. The travel bug is in her blood. The daughter of journalist and Travel Weekly Editor-in-Chief Arnie Weissmann, the University of Illinois senior has visited over 20 countries in the past 16 years.  

It started with one of her dad’s work trips to Mexico at age five, and she was hooked.

“I remember it being the most exciting thing in the world to me,” she says. “As I grew older, my dad and I always took a spring break trip — just the two of us — and that would be our special time to spend together.”

But it wasn’t until her freshman year of college that she realized she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps. When the duo took a father-daughter press trip to Uganda, it hit her.

“We went with other journalists, and I got to see these professionals working, and that was when I thought, ‘This is what I want to do.’”

Today she is one of five ASME interns working in Washington D.C. for the summer and one of about 1,400 employees of the National Geographic Society.

“I was a little intimidated going into it,” she says. “I felt like a very small fish in a sea of more talented, smarter successful people.”

Weissmann realized that to avoid getting lost in the crowd, she couldn’t wait for editors to give her assignments. She started exploring the office and offering help to various departments like the international editions section where she translates writers’ English idioms for foreign translators. (For a front-of-book piece on surfing, she explained “surf’s up” as: “a term that surfers use to say that the conditions are favorable for surfing.”)

One of the projects Weissmann is most proud of is a video piece she co-produced that uses the process of solving mazes as a way to study the brain’s response to navigational challenges. She found interview subjects — one of whom was the production designer of the 2010 reality-bending blockbuster Inception — conducted an expert interview, and even visited laboratories to see mice in action.

Emma and Arnie Weissmann in Dublin, Ireland
But Weissmann’s internship isn’t all fun and (mind) games. Sometimes there are disappointments as well.

“I spent two weeks researching and writing this article that ultimately didn’t work,” says Weissmann. But she notes that this kind of constructive feedback is part of the job, and there are always more opportunities to grow.

“If I try to do something and it’s not really successful, I may feel discouraged,” she says. “But the Society is always doing awesome things, so the next day I’ll go to a lecture from an archaeologist who discovered something new. I feel like I'm learning every day.”

Whether she’s interviewing a neuroscientist for a video piece, writing for National Geographic’s website about plants’ ability to listen, or reporting for a magazine in France (one of her future goals), Weissmann says she knows she can always call her dad for guidance.

“He’s definitely my career role model. I often ask for his advice, and I look at him as a mentor because, ultimately, he is doing what I would like to do,” she says. “He’s my go-to guy.”

— Written by Christina Jedra, Emerson College, Parents
---Edited by Russell Willoughby, University of Alabama, This Old House

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Born to Be Here

Every morning, Chelsea Stone makes her way to work through the humid subway tunnels that link the East Village to Midtown. Despite being new to the city, she navigates the shuffling, shoulder-bumping crowd that pours out from underground onto the sidewalk with the ease of a New York native. After side-stepping countless coupons shoved in her face and a barrage of lost tourists, she arrives at her internship in a Midtown high-rise between 46th and 47th Streets on Third Avenue—mere blocks away from the apartment where she took her first steps.

Although she considers Las Vegas her hometown, the ASME intern was born in the Big Apple and lived here for the first two years of her life. Her parents met and fell in love in the city, but decided to move west when Stone was a toddler. “I don’t remember living in New York at all,” she says.

Not that anyone can tell. After two months in the city, Stone has already settled right in. At her Reader’s Digest internship, she has written several pieces for the website, one of which tells the story of a reunion between two Holocaust survivors. At her temporary home, she has made friends with her fellow ASME interns and roommates—and enemies with the occasional cockroach. She has even made time to sit down with an editor from Vanity Fair, attend a magazine copy-editing class and, in a surprising turn of events, reunite with long-lost cousins.

As a journalism major at the University of Southern California, Stone has spent the majority of her college years working at the student newspaper. Now the managing editor, she monitors the paper from New York. She says the buzz of breaking news invigorates her, but in no way lessens her love for magazines. The 21-year-old has held multiple internships at different publications, including Vanity Fair. These experiences have inspired Stone’s ultimate goals for her career: She aspires to be an editor after college, explaining that her creative juices flow best when she’s polishing a well-written story.

With her sights set on a future in magazine, Stone had surprisingly never considered moving to New York before this summer. However, after a couple of ASME weekly lunches, she no longer feels tethered to the West Coast. "I've always enjoyed visiting, but I've never thought, 'I have to move there,'" she says. "But I do really feel like this is the place where you can be the most successful. There's nowhere else in the world where you could meet 10 editors in one day."

Stone has two weeks left on the East Coast, and she plans to spend them finishing out her internship at Reader's Digest and marking off some of her summer bucket list items—like a tour of the Empire State Building and a trip to the Statue of Liberty. But no matter how she spends the next 14 days, one thing is for certain: When she gets on her flight back to Sin City, she'll be bringing back more than a summer in New York. She will also have two and a half months of learning experience, which are bound to change the course of her magazine career forever.

Written by Jane Claire Hervey, University of Texas at Austin, Reader's Digest
Edited by Helen Zook, Northwestern University, Travel + Leisure

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole

Alice is sitting with her sister outdoors when she spies a White Rabbit with a pocket watch. Fascinated by the sight, she follows the rabbit down the hole. She falls for a long time, and finds herself in a long hallway full of doors.”

The story of Alice in Wonderland keeps buzzing in my mind. Why? Well for one, I watched the National Building Museum transform into the whimsical world with checkered floors, life-sized mushrooms, and a Mad Hatter room, with hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds scattered about the room. Cookies begging, “eat me” and drinks adorned with “drink me,” decorated the tables.

The Washingtonian’s biggest event of the year, "Best of Washington," hosted DC's top restaurants dishing out samples to festival goers, while sponsors like AT&T and the American Beverage Association displayed their products and funded prizes. I was truly blown away by the coordination of all the event’s logistics, and even more astonished that it was all conducted by the Washingtonian, and that I got to be a part of it. 

I spent my night working the event at the “private publisher party” or VIP section, following around the photographer and taking names. The ambassador of Italy gave me his business card (no big deal), and I was in the presence of the heads of some of America's biggest companies. I truly felt like I had fallen down a rabbit hole.

But that isn't the only reason why the novel was stuck in my head. I was also reminded of the most important metaphor in the story: one of growth. Alice is constantly shrinking or sprouting up when she eats or drinks something. One thing I have realized, is that growing up is about changing size—in all capacities. Your mind, your responsibilities, your willingness to accept change, your compassion, your values, your friendships, your education, and your learning.

Since moving to Washington, DC, I’ve grown. I came to a city I didn’t know, started a job in which I had no clue what to expect, and dove into a group of people who, at first, weren't even sure where Iowa was.

But as the Washingtonian's Fashion Editor Kate Bennett says, "I've never taken a job I knew how to do." This was comforting to hear.

At times throughout the summer, I’ve felt really big. Like when I saw my byline first published. There were also times that I’ve felt really small and unimportant, like getting story pitches turned down. 

I’ve had the opportunity to write for the Well+Being blog, Best Bites blog, and even have an article coming out in the print magazine in September. I'm currently working on another story for the October print edition and am getting in touch with my super girly side, writing an article about wedding trends for our wedding blog. I now know way more than I ever planned to about the CIA’s secret mission, Project AZORIAN, and could tell you almost everything you would want to know about "vaping," thanks to fact checking.

The Washingtonian welcomed me with open arms and has provided me with so many learning opportunities. And so many friendships.

Everyday, I hear Kate Bennett—our fabulous fashion editor—yelling from her office about a photo shoot or more interestingly, thank you letters from Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow. 

Deadline week at the magazine, I will admit, was tough. The interns were responsible for fact checking every story in the magazine, and those two weeks were long. Very long. But we all battled through it together and I know so many random facts now. Not to mention, my Googling skills are top notch. I’m going to miss the intern bond I have with my three other summer interns, who I’ve learned to love and make jokes with. They definitely got me through the internship and they make work worth going to.

Last Friday I got to venture to Strasburg, VA, which is about an hour and a half away from DC to tour our magazine’s printer. As soon as we ventured outside of the city limits, I felt like I could breathe again. The forests, mountains, and wide open space were so refreshing for me and gave off a Midwest feel (minus the mountains).

One of the best parts of the internship was listening to the editors and senior staff writers tell us about their backgrounds and how they got to where they are today.

Some wise words from Washingtonian staffers:

"Allow yourself to write a shitty first draft." - Bill Sullivan, Senior Managing Editor
"Do crazy things. Say yes, before you say no.
Find your balance.
You can have it all, but you have to find out what ALL means to you.
Listen to yourself.
Be eager, be helpful, be willing. Be hungry."
- Kate Bennett, Fashion Editor
"You have to be confident and curious." - Harry Jaffe, Senior Reporter
"A good story is what makes the reader say 'holy shit.' " Michael Shaffer, EIC

With a new EIC taking charge at the Washingtonian last week, it’s been a really interesting time to be at the magazine. New visions, philosophies, and ideas are going to shape the magazine and I’m interested to see the fruit.

Going to lunches at different magazines for the ASME program is another one of my most favorite parts of the internship program. I can’t believe I can say I’ve been to National GeographicSmithsonianAARPKiplinger’s, and the Atlantic, with more soon to add to my list. 

Some of the best words of wisdom this summer were from AARP’s EIC, Robert Love, who said, “The great thing about journalism is that you’re surrounded by people who are interested in the world, not by people who are interested in themselves.”

I could not agree more, and I think that’s why I love journalism so much. The Washingtonian has opened my eyes to journalism in a different light, showing me how to produce service journalism and get creative with DC.

I've done so many "touristy things" while being in DC: visiting the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Monument, the reflecting pool, tidal basin, the White House, Capitol, Old Town Alexandria, Georgetown and the Georgetown water front, Holocaust Museum, National Archives, Museum of Natural History, Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Art, Air and Space Museum, American Indian Museum, Chinatown, Arlington National Cemetery, Annapolis, and the Washington monument… the list goes on.

But after all of this, I've realized it's much better to live than be a tourist.

The other ASME DC interns, you guys rock. I’m so glad we were all in this together and I can’t wait to see where you all end up in the future. Midwest takes on DC.

As the summer comes to an end and I emerge from my rabbit hole as a more well-rounded, seasoned journalist and person, I consider myself much more grown up than when I left.

I learned so much about where I want my journalism career to go, where I want to live, how I want to live, and the person I want to be.

For now, I can confidently say that I’m ready to return to school at the University of Iowa. It's time to trade my business attire for a Hawkeye shirt. Bring on senior year. Go Hawks!

-- Written by Dora Grote, University of Iowa, The Washingtonian
-- Edited by Lauren Masur, Cornell University, Food Network Magazine

Friday, July 25, 2014

How To Be a Public Transportation Pro in No Time

I have to admit that before I came to New York, I was a little bit infamous among my friends for my prior use of public transportation. Coming from a school in Omaha, Nebraska where the only ways I get from point A to point B are by walking and driving, I had never figured out how to read a subway map or a bus schedule.

Then, the spring of my sophomore year, I spent a semester in Copenhagen, Denmark. I had no car, was living in the middle of a major city, and knew absolutely no one in the country. The very first time I used the subway, I looked up exactly what line I needed to take, got on that train, and only then proceeded to realize that, oh yeah, metro lines run in two different directions. I had been heading in the opposite direction for 30 minutes. After chronicling my (mis)adventures by plane, train, bus, metro, and even bicycle in my blog, my ability to get easily lost during my semester abroad became a running joke among my friends.

However, I am proud to say that the confusion that plagued me in Copenhagen has NOT persisted during my summer in New York. I now love being the one to look up how to get somewhere when I hit the town with friends. Here’s how to become a public transportation expert in no time:

1. ALWAYS pay attention
Even if you think you know where you’re going, it’s always good to take a look at what stops you’re passing on the subway, when certain lines run, which train is a local and which one is an express, etc., just to double and triple check that you're doing things right. Even looking around at what other people are doing can keep you from making a critical mistake. In Copenhagen, I thought that the buses just magically stopped at every stop—I didn't realize that I had to push a button to request the bus to stop somewhere until it was too late.

2. Go beyond Google Maps to figure out where you’re going
Yes, Google Maps is a god-send—gone are the days of having to bust out a paper map to figure out where you’re going. But it also eliminates the need to figure out the public transportation system as a whole. Google Maps will just tell you how to get from A to B, but what happens when that route doesn't work? Case in point: I went with some friends to Governor’s Island a few weeks ago, and we decided to take the line downtown that I always took to get to work. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that on the weekends, the line skipped the stop that we needed. The app that I've been relying on since I've been here to navigate the subways isn't Google Maps. It’s actually just a free NYC Subway app that has a list of all the subway lines and all of their stops in their entirety, and whether or not the line stops there all the time, or only part time. That way, if I’m in a pinch and suddenly have to take a different line, even if I’m in the subway with no access to Wi-Fi, I can just scroll through the list of the different Subway lines and figure out where to go. And don't discount taking a look at a physical map every once in a while.

3. Be confident
It always makes me laugh when I see people using their Metro Card for the first time, and how they are so careful to swipe it before going through the turnstile, only to discover that this makes it impossible for their card to be read (even though yes, I was that person at one point as well). I've found that more often than not, being very methodical and cautious about swiping your Metro Card actually causes more delays than if you confidently stroll up to the turnstile, and assume your card will work just fine.

 4. Explore your options
Yes, the subway will get you pretty much anywhere you need to go in NYC, but there are also some other great public transportation options here. My roommate and I started taking the bus to work, and it was life-changing—the buses in New York are air-conditioned with plenty of room to sit and don't require you to herd like cattle onto a crowded subway car. There are even city bikes you can rent and take around the city for a quick spin. But one of my last experiences on a bike in a city involved me hitting a parked car, so maybe I’ll have to wait awhile before I attempt biking in New York City.

--Written by Anna Hensel, Creighton University, Inc.
--Edited by Kathryn Moody, Indiana University, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jordan Smith Is On The Fast Track--Even if She'd Rather Be Taking the Hogwarts Express

Ask Jordan Smith, a rising senior at South Dakota State University and ASME intern at Inc. magazine, about her dream travel destination and she struggles to think of a personal paradise. (“Greece…maybe?”)  Ask her where she sees herself in five years, and she doesn’t even know where to begin. (“I hate these types of questions.”) But there’s one question she answers without hesitation:

“If you could interview one person, dead or alive, who would it be?”

“J.K. Rowling.”


“Because she’s a badass…her books inspire and define our generation…she pursued her dreams even though she was homeless and writing on napkins.”

You see, Smith’s not your casual Harry Potter reader. She describes her collection of all seven hard cover Harry Potter books as her most-prized possession. Of course she’s attended her fair share of midnight book releases and movie showings, but her eye for detail makes her stand out from even the most Hogwarts-obsessed muggles. That cluster of stars tattooed on her ankle? Those are actually the stars that appear on the pages of each book in the Harry Potter series.

If there’s one thing Smith is, it’s dedicated. When she likes something, she likes it, and she’ll pursue her dreams with a fierce work ethic.

That’s not to say that she might take a while to find her path. Smith had always imagined herself pursuing teaching or engineering, but she became intrigued by journalism after her friend, a photo editor at SDSU’s newspaper, The Collegian, dragged her to a newspaper meeting freshman year. “I just fell in love with newspaper culture,” says Smith. “My favorite thing about journalism is being able to be on the front lines, and find out things before the general public.”

Jordan Smith with her dog, Buzz. Although she doesn't know where she wants to live after graduation, Smith wants it to be "Somewhere where I have unlimited access to great coffee but small enough that I have a yard for my dog."

Sometimes, that means putting herself in uncomfortable situations. One of Smith’s first breaking news stories was on bats found in the residence halls. The school’s administration hadn’t even heard about it yet, but Smith overheard two students complaining about it to a secretary and decided to go up and ask them about it. Despite her fear that “these kids are going to think I’m so weird,” Smith knew she had to get the story. When an SDSU student died in a car crash on the way back from spring break, it was a difficult situation for the students to wrap their minds around. Nonetheless, it was Smith’s job to report on it, and she did so without hesitation, earning a thank you note from the student’s family after the piece ran.

It’s this desire to push herself that led Smith to New York City for the summer. Her favorite day in New York City so far involved attending a Keith Urban concert in the morning, stopping by Glamour magazine for an ASME lunch, and getting her first article published at her internship, all before the end of the work day.
While Smith undertakes a lot as the editor-in-chief of The Collegian, she still manages to find the time to work two jobs during the school year. She admits that she probably takes on too many responsibilities, but it’s a stressful environment that Smith will find herself in time and time again.

“Jordan isn’t afraid to laugh at herself and makes those around her laugh and can always lighten the mood in a stressful situation,” says her friend Maddi Anderson, the managing editor at The Collegian. “In addition, she handles pressure very well. In our jobs, there is always the pressure of the deadline and the various staff issues that arise and she always handles them with dignity and intelligence as well as a good sense of humor.”

Anderson and Smith met last year in their respective roles at The Collegian, bonding on a trip to New Orleans for a journalism conference, especially after attending a session related to, what else, Harry Potter and journalism.  But with a dedication that shines through in everything she does, Smith doesn’t need to rely on magic to make it in the journalism world.

Written by Anna Hensel, Creighton University, Inc.
Edited by Andy Zunz, University of Central Florida, Field & Stream

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Thrive and Survive in NYC

I’ve been here for about seven weeks and have learned many things in this short time about living in one of the country’s busiest cities. Every day I get up, walk to the subway, work, look for food, explore, shower, rinse and repeat. With that much repetition and practice you could probably say I’m somewhat of an expert.

But, FYI, living here is not the cakewalk I thought it would be. There are key things I wish I would’ve known before coming here. Lucky for you, I’m willing to share.

Below are my five tips for thriving and surviving in the concrete jungle. Or rather, what you should come armed with and keep with you at all times; and no, these are not things you can find at Duane Reade at the corner of 14th and 3rd.

This is a place full of waiting. If NYC were a movie its tagline would read “the waiting place.” Lines can go on for miles, but are you surprised? You’re in a major tourist spot. Sure they can be annoying at times, particularly when you’re late for work, but being patient and able to roll with the punches ensures that you won’t be angry every single day.

A sense of adventure

Coney Island? That's always in the budget!
Fun things are at every corner. With so many stores, parks and entertainment, there is something for everybody. Never should you say you are bored. Boredom doesn’t live, visit or exist here. Channel your inner explorer, grab your monthly MetroCard (it’s cheaper than paying every way), hit the subway and go. BUT notice I didn’t say there’s something safe at every corner. Right along with your adventure sense, store your common sense. Quiet, dark, abandoned alleys at 3 a.m. are NOT fun.

Money managing skills

I quickly realized that the best thing about NYC is the food. Food, food, food; I love food. But my wallet doesn’t necessarily agree with my love of food. I was super excited about landing a paid internship. My first paycheck arrived, but before I knew it a chunk of my money was gone thanks to take-out. My advice? Make a budget. Avoid cheap places like McDonald’s at all costs, but don’t eat at the fancy Thai place in Brooklyn every week and blow all of your money either. Plus, with stores like Trader Joe's and tons of quality street produce stands, it’s super easy to make gourmet meals in your apartment for the low.


While you may not always be the sharpest tool in the shed, you can definitely be the hardest working person in the group. Hard work always beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. It’s about being confident in your work. No one wants to work with an individual who isn’t proud to show off what they’ve done. It’s a sign of weakness and honestly, in this city, there is no room for weakness. Be who you are and own it well.


Curse Hollywood for creating movies about the city promising us that our dreams would instantly come true the moment we arrived here. This is one of the toughest cities to break through in any industry, let alone succeed. If you want to be among the best, you’re going to have to bring your best on a consistent basis. There are no instant successes and if you take failures too personally then you will never make it in this city. Take your failures, learn from them and let your passion keep you moving forward. You would not be here if you didn’t really want something. Keep that in perspective the next time something doesn’t go your way.

Written by Alexis Reliford, Northwestern State University, ESSENCE
Edited by Andy Zunz, University of Central Florida, Field & Stream