Do you enjoy the freedom of being a freelance writer or do you want to work at a specific media outlet one day?
Being a freelancer definitely, has its pros and cons. It’s great because you have a lot of creative freedom and you can really focus your attention on certain projects for a select amount of time. Instead of having to worry about writing a bunch of other news stories you can just focus on one story at a time and really just give all of your attention to that specific project. I actually just started a new job yesterday so I’m working full time at MTV for TRL. Now I’ve transitioned back to working for one brand but I am going to continue freelancing while taking on this role. It’ll be an interesting balance. I definitely wasn’t doing that before (working and freelancing) when I was at Nylon; I just focused on the work I was doing there, but it’s a different type of job so I’m able to do both.
Did you expect to get so many writing opportunities straight out of college?
Definitely not, and I would say none of the things I ended up doing were handed to me per say, so I really had to go out and find them and be really active about it. The first thing I ended up accepting after college was an internship at Refinery29 and with them, I was in the talent relations department. So it wasn’t really editorial focused although we did work with the editorial departments with securing talent for different projects and all of these different things.
Then I ended up getting a fellowship at The Fader, that was also paid and so with that, it was writing all the time 24/7 which was great and I had the opportunity to do so many different types of writing. Whether it was premieres, interviews, roundups, going to events and doing live coverage, that kind of a thing so I really got to dabble in everything which was great and then once I was done that I started working at Nylon full-time and I really just got to dip my hand in all of the different verticals that our brand covered, so that was really exciting. Every once in awhile I would freelance at some other outlets while I was there as well but it was just really cool to be able to kind of write about whatever I wanted as long as my editor signed off on it. Looking back it was really great, and now just the fact that I get to write for so many other outlets is really really cool and humbling.
How did your time at American impact your current career?
If I hadn’t had gone to AU I definitely don’t think that I would’ve been where I am now or at least the path that I ended up going down I don’t think I would’ve necessarily gone about it the same way. The push to get involved in internships definitely jump-started getting involved in the field, but especially joining The Eagle was fundamental in me realizing that I did want to be involved with Journalism. I joined the first month of coming to AU during my freshman year and I immediately went to the entertainment department, it was called ‘the scene’ at the time and it was focused on arts and entertainment. I was just really interested in music and film so I would just go to all of the shows and all of the movie screenings so I could review them and once I realized that I could actually make a career out of that I started to figure out how I could go about getting those internships at the brands that I was interested in and I even started a blog while I was undergrad and so, what I couldn’t cover in class or for the paper I would just kind of do on my own and write really random posts and from there the internships kind of fell into place.
So my first editorial internship was at Billboard. I was on the online team and I got to write posts for the website which was really exciting. It’s really rad that my first professional clips got to be at Billboard, which is kind of like the top of the music journalism right now. After that, I wrote for All Things Go. I was an editorial intern there which was a DC-based music site. Those guys are also still really great. I keep in touch with them. I was at Pigeons and Planes which is owned by Complex, Seventeen, and then during my time abroad I interned for a music magazine called Song Lines and that was really cool and interesting, they covered world music.
During my last semester at AU I ended up interning at Nylon and I did that while I was going to school at AU. So I was commuting from DC to New Jersey, to New York and then back. I don’t recommend that everybody does that but at the time it just made sense and I only needed four credits to graduate so I just did it. I feel like if I hadn’t had the foundation that I created while I was at AU, in my extracurriculars but then also with what I was learning in the classroom from my professors who were really amazing. I don’t think I would’ve been as prepared to go into the field and be really active with reaching for the top and going for these publications and brands. A lot of people say that you have to work your way up towards it but I just kind of knew that if I feel qualified for this I’m just gonna go for it and it worked out.
What clubs and organizations were you involved with as a student at American?
I guess I did quite a lot. I started with The Eagle, SOC Ambassadors, WVAU, SUB. I would say I popped into BSA meetings. I wasn’t on the Eboard but I tried to go to the meetings. Those were the clubs I was most active in. The Eagle I did up until I was a senior. I was the music editor and then after I came back from Abroad I just ended up contributing from time to time but I was freelancing at that point so I kind of just wanted to focus more on paid projects. WVAU was really fundamental in helping me learn more about the music side of the business and more up and coming, emerging artists which I realized I liked to cover over the mainstream ones. I only got involved in SUB because I was really frustrated with the music selection on campus. So I felt like sometimes you have to be the change that you want to see, that’s why I got involved in SUB. It was great. We definitely improved things tremendously. I’m still really upset that they brought Chance The Rapper when I went abroad because I’d been pushing for that for months and I’m still not over it, but it’s okay.
What advice do you have for students that are aspiring writers?
Never be afraid to reach too high, because I feel like a lot of the time people will constantly tell you that you need to work your way up, which is true, you need to work from the bottom. But I feel like a lot of people get discouraged to reach for their goals. If I had listened to all the people that told me “oh you need to start at a smaller, local paper” which a lot of people do and is great and works for them, I wouldn’t have gotten my first job at Nylon. That was my dream job, my favorite magazine ever as a teen and I had never applied to intern there until I was a senior because I felt like I was ready and qualified to do it, and then I ended up getting it which I didn’t expect. If I hadn’t had applied for that internship when I did I wouldn’t have had my first job there. Don’t be afraid to go after what you want because the only person that’s going to stop you, is you. Or the worst thing that’s going to happen to you is you don’t get it.