"Read. Readreadread all that you can — books, published essays, or the news. As you read, think about what you like about what you’re reading in terms of format and narrative. Is it the writer’s voice? Is it the pacing of the story? Are they just funny? Are they using compelling quotes? Picking up on these things help you become a stronger writer, too."
This is the first cover story I wrote for The Stranger in 2017 about the rise of claiming free speech to protect hateful speech: https://www.thestranger.com/features/2017/05/03/25119775/what-is-free-speech-anyway
And here’s something more recent that I wrote about a local historically Black community and the history of redlining in the neighborhood: https://theevergrey.com/how-did-the-central-district-become-seattles-historically-black-neighborhood/
My career roadmap has been somewhat defined.
Writing the first story during my junior year that met one of my key goals as a journalist: giving voice to an underrepresented community.
Selected for a six month internship at the Puget Sound Business Journal — one of the few paying internships at the time — where I was able to cover several pivotal topics in recent Seattle history, including the election of a socialist city council member, the passing of a $15 minimum wage, the legalization of cannabis, and the emergence of the ride share economy.
Getting a six month feeliwdhip with Grist.org where I learned about science writing and reporting with voice.
Not working in my industry for over a year, despite applying for lots of jobs. Started to learn about freelancing.
Got my first full-time reporting job, two years after graduating. I worked at The Stranger, an alt-weekly newspaper, where I covered a variety of topics, including breaking news, homelessness, immigration, and — wait for it — women in cannabis.
Got a new job at The Evergrey, a media startup and newsletter company focused on building community in a city full of transplants. Wrote stories about city history and gentrification and answered reader-submitted questions about complex topics in Seattle.
Getting laid off for the first time, a sadly common thing in journalism right now. But this taught me the importance of maintaining a professional network of people who wanted to support me!
Got a temporary position running social media at Crosscut, a nonprofit newsroom. After temping for three months, I was hired on full-time as the newsroom's digital editor, which I’ve been working since July 2019.
Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway
DURING MY HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
None. The most relevant thing I did was take a Journalism class at COC that had me working at a TV station late into the evening.
Maybe AOC Honors Society for leadership skills.
DURING MY COLLEGE CAREER
Interned at Seattle Met Magazine and The Seattle Times during college.
Volunteered with the Society of Professional Journalists - Western Washington (SPJ) and Asian American Journalist Association chapters to help run various events and gain networking opportunities.
Took an internship with the Puget Sound Business Journal after graduating and, later, a fellowship with Grist.org.
Served on the boards for SPJ and The Seattle Globalist for two years each.
Currently working with emerging writers on personal essays as a mentor through the Northwest Editors Guild.
What I'm currently doing/hope to do
I currently work as the digital editor at Crosscut, a nonprofit news site based in Seattle that’s part of the parent company running our local PBS station, KCTS 9. I’m a member of our newsroom’s audience engagement team, which helps better connect readers to our stories through social media and also directly answer their questions about big issues in our region. I also manage and schedule stories for publication on our website, help workshop headlines, edit a column about the inner workings of our newsroom, and write/assemble our daily, weekly, election, and arts email newsletters.
How to maximize my time in high school?
Advice #1: Read. Readreadread all that you can — books, published essays, or the news. As you read, think about what you like about what you’re reading in terms of format and narrative. Is it the writer’s voice? Is it the pacing of the story? Are they just funny? Are they using compelling quotes? Picking up on these things help you become a stronger writer, too.
Advice #2: Find a local chapter of a professional journalism group, whether it’s through the industry of the city you’re living in or through your college/university. These groups often hold networking opportunities, speed mentoring, workshops, and more. A handful of great ones: the Online News Association, Journalism and Women Symposium, Society of Professional Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Association of LGBTQ Journalists, and more. Lots of these organizations have member fees, but many offer student discounts.
Advice #3: Get paid for your work as often as you can. There are still far too many news orgs that don’t pay their interns — and that is not okay. As you build your network, tell people that you’re looking to get experience in journalism and ask if their newsrooms are offering paid internships or fellowships or if they know of places to apply.
Advice #4: Related to the above, get to know other journalists working in different newsrooms in your area, whether it’s at networking meetups, volunteering, happy hour, or workshops. Tell them you’re looking to build up your skills or job searching. Most journalists want to help one another and can help connect you to opportunities.