For many of the ASME interns this summer, a good amount of travel has been necessary to make dreams of working at a top magazine become reality. One intern in particular, though, has been on the move her entire life, following a path that has now led her to the doorstep of Reader’s Digest.
Shirley Li, currently of East Brunswick, New Jersey, began this journey farther away than most—on the other side of the planet, actually. Li was born in Shanghai, China, and lived there as a child until she was able to move with her parents to New Jersey at the age of two. With the school-year spent in the U.S., Li continually traveled back to Shanghai during the summer months until she reached junior high. After high school, she made yet another move, deciding to pursue a degree in journalism at Northwestern University. Li will enter her senior year of school as a Wildcat in the fall, also completing her French and political science minors.
Shirley heard about the ASME internship program during her freshman year at Northwestern from one of her favorite professors. Prof. Charles Whitaker mentioned the internship, and it seemed like the perfect fit for the current print managing editor of North by Northwestern.
Taking her skills from the campus publication to the magazine industry of New York City, Li has found her place as a contributing member of Reader’s Digest. She is quick to acknowledge the friendly environment and supervisors surrounding her. As an intern, her daily work does include fact-checking and researching, but the subject matter on which she is exploring is exquisitely unique. As a top “human interest” publication, Reader’s Digest has allowed Li to see fascinating stories about people all around the globe, at the purist origins of the story. Her duties do not stop there, however, as she hopes to be moving into blogging soon and also enjoys the privilege of attending meetings in various departments, which allows her to get a well-rounded perspective of how exactly the publication operates.
Li has always been a fan of the humor section of Reader’s Digest, but has grown a greater appreciation for the entire magazine since she has worked there. Everyone in the office is passionate about the publication, as Shirley finds there are so many great stories that fill the pages, stories that may not be told anywhere else.
Shirley is also enthusiastic about the international aspect Reader’s Digest offers as a company. There are many daughter-publications run through the company that are distributed to readers throughout the world. It provides a sense of cultural-variance to Shirley, who gave the example of having to think in different terms for a magazine going to Canada than one destined for American readers.
Even though Shirley is not changing hemispheres at the moment, she is still on the move. Her hour and a half commute from East Brunswick to Manhattan every day shows her dedication to the publication and her future-career. Where her experience at Reader’s Digest and degree from Northwestern University will take Shirley Li next is yet to be seen.
Chase Howell, ASME Intern, ESPN The Magazine