Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Insta-Intern

My name is Chelsea, and I’m addicted to Instagram.

Ok, maybe not “addicted” per se, but I do enjoy the occasional filter on the occasional photo of my occasionally awesome experiences here in New York City.

Looking back, I think this posting problem began when I studied abroad in London – before, I was just your average Instagrammer, sharing pictures of my dog and my dinner and not much else. In that land across the pond though, everything was filterable, and it all felt worth sharing with my friends and family back home.

“Everyone posts photos of their adventures abroad,” I thought with cavalier disregard for my obsession. “I’ll go back to normal once I’m back in America.”

But then ASME happened. I came to New York knowing that I would be working at a full-time internship and partaking in ASME-sponsored events, but I had no idea how excited I would be about these things. Now, every new magazine I visit calls for a post. I mean, one of our most hirable traits is our understanding of social media, right?

And it’s not just ASME. New York itself is chock full of Insta-worthy people, places and things. Cool building? Instagram it. Cute dog on the street? Instagram it. Bought a cupcake? Intagram. Weird sign? Insta. Should I use X-Pro II? Mayfair? Maybe Walden? The possibilities are literally endless.

I don’t do it for the likes (though I can’t say that I don’t enjoy basking in the envy of my plethora of West Coast-based peers). I do it because I want to remember all of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I have in the big city. Now that my New York summer is drawing to its close, I’m glad that I spent so much time documenting this incredible journey.

I’ve also realized something else amidst the Instagram frenzy. Most of what happened here in New York can’t be explained in a picture. It’s the things that you don’t photograph – the feelings – that seem to have the most impact in the end. This summer, I’ve meandered my way through the subway system, I’ve figured out where the best lunch spots are, I’ve discovered my favorite local coffee shop, and I’ve spent months learning the ins and outs of a national publication. These intangible little moments are the ones that excite me the most because these were the times where I felt most like a New Yorker, the times when I felt like coming back here when I graduate in eight months. 

Just because these moments won’t pop up when you scroll through my feed, doesn’t mean they’re not important. It means they’re special in a different way, and I’m ok with keeping them to myself for now.

Or, I just couldn’t choose a filter.

--Written by Chelsea Stone, University of Southern California, Reader's Digest
--Edited by Gabriela Riccardi, Syracuse University, Family Circle

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Alexandra Whittaker: Going for It

You can tell a lot about a person from her gelato order. Alexandra Whittaker looks wide-eyed at the frozen confections behind the glass counter at Grom. With a smile, she asks for a medium nocciola gelato with whipped cream on top. She can’t pronounce it but ignores the English translation (hazelnut) and just goes for it, laughing off her butchered Italian. She later explains that she is more proficient in Japanese… well, sort of.

This past May, Whittaker, along with eight other student-journalists from around the country, embarked on an all-expense paid study trip to the Kansai region of Japan, the prize for winning the prestigious Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition.

In just 10 days, Whittaker received a serious crash course in international media and took advantage of her time abroad. While she describes the cultural nuances that intrigued her during her time in Japan, it is abundantly clear why this Naperville native has chosen to pursue journalism—She’s curious.

“Japan is the cleanest country I’ve ever seen, yet there are no trash cans anywhere. There are probably these secret garbage chutes that no one knows about. The streets are spotless. It made absolutely no sense!”

Another oddity that fascinated her? A sushi conveyor belt.  

“There were these tiny little plates moving past us with all different things. I grabbed a few that I thought I’d like and some just to try. Everyone tried to warn me to stay away from tentacles or eyeballs but I just went for it.”

Whittaker’s adventurous spirit led to this life philosophy: "As cliché as it sounds, I'm not afraid to try anything. That's how you learn."

With that attitude in tow, Whittaker seems to be on the right track. She already has four internships under her belt as she approaches her senior year at Marquette University: Woman’s Day, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones, and Elle, five if you include her ASME internship at InStyle where she wraps up Aug. 8.  Whittaker is also a USA Today College Contributor and spent a semester as a visiting student at Columbia University.

A lot of things about Whittaker are pleasantly contradictory. While her impressive resume is certainly brag-worthy, she is strikingly down-to-earth: accomplished yet humble. Even though she is a meticulous planner, she’s OK going with the flow and walking aimlessly downtown: structured yet flexible.  In the same breath that she teases about her cat nacho pitch for the “What’s Right Meow” section of, she also throws in some stats about the upward trend in InStyle ad pages: fun-loving yet means business.

Complexities aside, Whittaker is the kind of person you’d want to sit in the cubicle next to you or to bump into at the coffee machine. She fondly remembers one such coffee encounter with Elle Editor in Chief, Robbie Meyers.

During her semester at Columbia, Whittaker scored an interview at Elle.

“I was in the waiting area for my interview and I called the extension of the editor. I must have looked really nervous when all of a sudden this super chic woman asked me if I needed help. I knew who she was, but it didn’t fully register that the editor in chief of Elle was walking me to my interview—at Elle.”

Weeks into the internship (that she landed) Whittaker had another run in with Elle’s leading lady at the coffee machine.

“I said, ‘I don’t know if you remember me, but you walked me to my interview.’ And I officially introduced myself. She replied that of course she remembered and that they were happy to have me.”

No big deal.

Take one glance at this aspiring editor and you’ll assume that her topknot is full of secrets—secrets to success, that is. Alexandra Whittaker knows what she wants. And she’s going to go for it. 

-- Written by Lauren Masur, Cornell University, Food Network Magazine
-- Edited by Jordan Smith, South Dakota State University, Inc.

Catching Up with Kayla

Kayla Elam has always been a magazine fanatic. Since she was a kid, she dreamt of magazines in her Missouri town of 11,000. 

"I used to carry around my grandmother's Family Circle magazines in my little purse because I loved how visual they were and I loved reading the stories," she says. 

Having grown into a strong writer and self-proclaimed "huge nerd," Elam is taking her passion and applying it to a summer internship at Smithsonian magazine in Washington, DC. 

Elam’s love of magazines is deeply rooted, and despite knowing that she has wanted to work in journalism since she was a child, some from her hometown wrote it off as more of a pipedream.  

“People would go ‘oh sure, you want to work for a magazine, doesn’t every kid want to do something huge.’ But I stuck with it; I was and am very serious. I think that would surprise some people back home if they looked back,” Elam says. 

Her parents, on the other hand, never doubted that she would go after her dreams, encouraging Elam to embrace her driven nature and follow her ambition, even with the occasional cleanup.

“They did have to move my magazines downstairs because they were afraid the papers would break through the floorboards. I refuse to throw them out," says Elam.

The stacks of magazines pointed to a promising future for a student with striking curiosity and a knack for writing. Interested in art, literature, and international relations, Elam likes to curb boredom by staying well rounded and learning a little bit about everything. 

"My twitter bio says I'm an all-around eclectic, and I really am," she says. 

Smithsonian is the perfect place to feed her appetite for knowledge.

"One day I'm learning about fish, and another I'm interviewing a band, and another I'm looking up waves, and another I'm writing about pop icons and pop culture," says Elam. "I'm interested in all things, so it's great."

Elam’s natural curiosity and passion for learning new things led her to take art history courses at the University of Missouri to see what it was like, despite having never taken an art history class in high school.

After exploring the subject for a year and discovering a new-found love for it, Elam added art history as a second major during her sophomore year (her first is journalism, naturally). 

Photo of the Smithsonian castle
“Majoring in art history has been a good compliment to my education,” says Elam. “Journalism classes are more training-based, and a liberal arts background allows for lots of different types of classes, which has helped me as a writer.”

Elam also credits the University of Missouri’s esteemed journalism program for strengthening her writing. The program serves as a perfect fit for the Missouri native and prepared Elam to try something new with an East Coast summer.

"DC reminds me a lot of the Midwest. I think a lot of Midwest transplants come to DC to work or intern," says Elam. 

For Elam, living and working in DC has been a positive experience so far, and learning to thrive in the US capitol hasn’t taken her much time at all.

“Politics are huge here, but apart from that, so much is really going on behind the scenes, and that’s been exciting,” says Elam.
Smithsonian is a fitting first step for a passionate journalist working diligently towards her future, perhaps in international relations or her dream magazine, Harper's Bazaar.

"I'm definitely not getting anyone's coffee," says Elam.

And that's the way she likes it. 

--by Alexandra Whittaker, Marquette University, InStyle

Edited by Anna Hensel, Creighton University, Inc.

19 Not-So-Professional Reasons Why You Should Intern in NYC

      Let's be real, we all dream of it and loathe it at the same time. The summer internship–– the place where we'll pour 40 plus hours a week of our lives into, while all of our friends will seemingly be out enjoying some of the year's best weather. 

     But never fear... I have a secret for you: take your summer internship to the next level and intern in the big apple.

     That's right. While you'll technically be working, it probably won't seem that way. New York City has some of the best companies to work for and an atmosphere you'll be sure to fall love in love with in between the hustle of day-to-day work.

     I've spent the last nine weeks interning in this city and I must say it has been pretty incredible. On top of getting to work for a great company, I've got to spend my summer in one of the best cities in the world. So alas, here are 19 gnarly, not-so-professional reasons why you should intern in New York City (with a few tips from me, just in case you actually do end up here)!

1. There are landmarks around every corner…

My picks: Go for a run along the Hudson and see Lady Liberty and Jersey City off in the distance, or take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to eat some of New York's finest pizza at Grimaldi's.

2.  ...And cold brew coffee will be obviously offered at every one of those corners.

My picks: The Bean is a fantastic coffee shop with free wifi and several locations––I recommend their cold brew! Brooklyn Roasting Company is great option if you find yourself out of Manhattan.

3. You will find a beautiful park to eat lunch at within just a short 5 to 10 minute walk from basically any office building.

My picks: The Highline is one of my favorite parks in the city. Although it's not quite in walking distance of my office. Other great parks in walking distance from a lot of big offices include the Hudson River Park, Bryant Park, Central Park, Washington Park and Battery Park (just to name a few).

4. And your lunch options are basically endless.

My picks: I fell in love with falafel this summer. So I may be a little bias when I recommend Mamoun's and Ba'al Cafe and Falafel. However I've also learned that the city is littered with great lunch places on every corner, including excellent pizza shops and soup, salad and sandwich cafes.

5. In the evenings some of the very parks you had lunch at will come a live with music and concerts.

My picks: Central Park has a nice lineup of summer shows. Prospect Park has a great variety of awesome free summer shows as well (although it does get crowded)! Irving Plaza (which isn't a park) has a nice variety of shows and is pretty popular in the NYC summer music scene too.

6. Getting around is as easy as swiping your metro card.

My tips: The subway is both the best and worst thing about New York City. It provides quick and convenient service (when it's working properly), but can also be one of the hottest, smelliest and overall rankest places ever. But hey, it sure beats driving! My advice is to embrace it and try and master the art of NYC public transportation. Plus on the bright side, at least there is always a designated driver!


7. … or as easy as renting a conveniently placed bike!

My tips: Who am I kidding... I've never ridden one of these bikes. While they always seemed like a valid option, I preferred walking or taking the subway. 

8. You will most likely be an accidental extra in next year’s hit indie movie!

My tips: If you come across a movie crew(which you probably will), make sure to play it cool. Accidentally being in a movie is one thing, but accidentally being in a movie and looking stupid is a completely different altogether.

9. And Williamsburg’s weekend flea market will make sure you fit the part just right!

My tips: Beware––this IS in fact hipster central. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Just be sure to expect lots of vinyl, handcrafted goods, overpriced "vintage" art pieces, and anything else you could find in your grandpa's spare bedroom.

10. Chilling at the beach with your crew is just an hour subway ride away.

My picks: Rockaway Beach is great. But even though it's New York, it's still the beach; be sure not to forget your sunscreen. Also, Rockaway Tacos is a great lunch spot only a couple blocks away from the main pier!

 11. Your weekend trip options are endless.

My tips: I suggest hiking at The Palisades––just make sure to take the right bus!

12. Walking down the streets is like an art show, without admission.

 My picks: The streets are always full of art. So far I've loved this billboard and an artist in Washington park I always see. There is also a great dinosaur mural above a gothic furniture store in the East Village worth checking out!

13. On Fridays you can go to real art shows at MOMA without the admission. (Thanks Uniqlo!)

My tips: Fridays are free after 4 p.m. during the summer at MOMA (thanks UNIQLO!). It does get pretty busy though, so I'd advise to get there early and be prepared to fight your way through dense crowd.

14. But where will you get your basics such as haircuts or groceries? Trust me, the city’s gotcha covered.

My tips: If you got to Astor Place Hairstylists ask for Yuri, you won’t regret it. Also, try to shop around. Grocery prices will appear steep at first, but with time you'll see that even the stores in NYC have a lot more to offer and you'll learn what to buy at each store to get the best price.

15.  One word… Brunch.

 My picks: Cafe Orlin, Mud, The Penny Farthing are my top three picks. Cafe Orlin has great everything. Mud has the best coffee in the world. The Penny Farthing's french toast will rock your socks.

16. You’ll catch yourself staring off aimlessly into an array of captivating skylines such as these.

My picks: The Brooklyn Bridge from one of the Circle Line Cruises is awesome. Also, just walking down the streets at sunset will give you quite the skyline.

17. Oh, and these too.

My picks: Astor Place, Chinatown, and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

18.  Hot dogs and rides at Coney Island are a summer must.

My tips: Make sure to ride the rides before eating the hot dogs!

19. And even though it's all ridiculously expensive... I mean, it’s New York City people… C’mon! Do I really need to continue?

My tip: Just "Dive In." You only have so many summers to be a twenty-something...

Written by Kevin Schultz, Scientific American, Northern Kentucky University
Edited by Alexis Reliford, ESSENCE, Northwestern State University of Louisiana