Today I had the pleasure of attending the student orientation for the incoming graduate class of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Congregating in the 7th floor television studio, my magazine journalism comrades and I settled into our seats, nervous as well as excited to kickstart the next 15 months that lay ahead. While the butterflies haven’t quite left my stomach just yet, I will not forget the surging wave of assurance that told me I was, in fact, sitting in the right room today. Surrounded by the best and the brightest from across the globe, I am honored to be a part of this young, motivated team yearning to find inspiration from the amazing city we all now call home.
For those of you who were not seated in the 7th floor television studio this morning but have journalistic goals for your future, I’d like to share a six takeaways from my orientation that will help you keep your feet on the ground, truth in your heart and a smile on your face.
1. Always write down your new ideas. Ideas are your currency, and you’ll never know which ones will turn out to be some of your greatest if you let yourself lose sight of them.
2. Maintain your energy, innocence, and genuine sense of curiosity, three critical characteristics in a strong journalist. Never leave home or begin a new story without this toolkit.
3. Rely on your instincts, and realize that skepticism isn’t negativity. It is amazing where your intuition can lead you.
4. Read constantly, and utilize a variety of sources. The more you expose yourself to ideas, styles and expressions of others’ forms of writing, the better you will become at generating read-worthy content for yourself.
5. When interviewing a person, observe them closely and search for their inner conflict. Don’t stop asking questions until you fully expose and understand the force that guides them through life, for this essence is what makes them (and your story) interesting.
6. Remember that writing is a lifelong learning experience, and embrace it. To be a strong journalist, you must continuously grow as a professional storyteller. It may not be in the headline of your job description, but it’s definitely in the fine print.
I hope these tidbits of advice resonate with some of you like they did with me today. I cannot wait to begin my first semester with these amazing writers as my mentors. Thank you professors Meryl Gordon, Mary Quigley, Alexis Gelber and James McBride for sharing your words of wisdom with me.