Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lauren Masur: Small Girl, Big City

"I like being small, it's a good conversation starter sometimes. I've always felt special being the smallest."
            
It was the summer of 2012. Lauren Masur, an 18-year-old freshman from Cornell University, was presented with a formidable challenge. Her first assignment as an intern at Parenting was to find a set of multi-colored, translucent clothespin chopsticks for a spread in the magazine. The stakes were colossal.

“I remember being so nervous I wrote a script for my phone calls,” Masur says, thinking of the lengths she went to in order to find the props. Her large eyes dart toward the stone fountain at the center of Washington Square Park as she recalls the first line: “I even had to write ‘Hi, this is Lauren!’”

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Masur’s love for journalism originated from diving right into the field as opposed to studying it first. “I don’t think you can just simply learn journalism,” she says. “I’m learning through internships and I’m taking a bunch of classes that interest me. I think that’s a good way to study it.”

As a first-year student in college, Masur participated in a program that connected Cornell alumni to current students for job shadowing opportunities. Through that, she found her way to Family Circle during her spring break. “I was basically learning from the editorial assistant for a few days, going to meetings and pitching ideas for some online slideshows.” The experience, in many ways, was seminal to her growth as a young journalist.

A lot has happened in the two years since then. Masur returned to Family Circle her sophomore summer and interned part-time at Time Out New York Kids. She also continued to write on-and-off for the independent Cornell publication Slope Magazine.

Today, she’s in the Hearst Tower at 57th Street as an editorial intern for Food Network Magazine. “It’s my favorite internship so far,” she says, sinking her teeth into a melting strawberry shortcake ice-cream bar. She says she has to pinch herself every time she walks into Hearst Tower because of all the people she recognizes— a hazard of being a magazine nerd.

“When I saw Joanna Coles [editor-in-chief, Cosmopolitan] with her blonde bob from behind, I really wanted to take a selfie,” she laughs.

More than anything else, it’s Masur’s commitment to the journalistic practice that really seems to make her stand out. “I honestly don’t think I’m above anything in the office,” she remarks. “If they ask me to organize a closet, I’ll happily to do it. After all, it’s about meeting these established editors and having them remember you.”
           
For someone who has always loved magazines– Glamour and Seventeen are two of her favorites— but who had never thought of writing and editing for one, Masur’s transition into the world of print was surprisingly organic. “Since I've become interested in journalism, a lot of things make sense,” she says. “I always ask a lot of questions and I’m interested in how things impact people.” That’s a healthy obsession for any good reporter to have.

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As the tired evening sun beat on our backs, Masur confessed how valuable the ASME program is turning out to be for her. “I feel a lot more confident this summer,” she says, “like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.” Truly, this is a massive step up from the unsure and indecisive Cornell freshman Masur described herself being just a few years ago.

It’s refreshing to come across aspiring reporters, like Masur, who are humble and honest not only in the way they paint themselves, but also in how they see the world around them. It’s indicative of a journalistic temperament that is strong and critical, but also warm and human.

So yes, Masur most definitely embodies the embryonic stages of an ideal millennial editor. Yes, she most definitely has a bright future. And yes, she most definitely found those chopsticks.

--Written by Varun Nayar, Grinnell College, Fast Company

--Edited by Sarah Barchus, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, AARP The Magazine

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