Professional SpotlightSpotlight

As food lovers, we try to consume as many food articles and books we can get our hands on. We are big fans of Anne McBride’s writing, and we were very excited for the opportunity to talk with her about her career in the food industry and as a writer. Having grown up with grandparents who were farmers and gourmet home-cooks, Anne has been exposed to the pleasures of cooking and how food brings people together. Being surrounded by food throughout her childhood made Anne comfortable when it came time for her to cook.

We love that Anne is a constant learner and serious about her work. Not only is she working toward a PhD in Food Studies from New York University, but she is also an adjunct professor there. Additionally, Anne is the Director of Experimental Cuisine Collective and is the Culinary Program and Editorial Director for the Strategic Initiatives Group at The Culinary Institute of America. In her spare time, she writes articles and books about food. To say we are impressed would be an understatement! Read on to learn more about Anne’s career, what each job entails, and the skills she believes you need as a food writer.

Name: Anne E. McBride
Education: B.A. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Follow: annemcbride.net / @annemcbride

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

Anne E. McBride: Making the most of all the open doors you face when you are young and at the beginning your career. Not being afraid to take risks. Not over planning the next 10 to 15 years (regardless of which age you are!).

CJ: What did you major in at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette? How did you determine what to study?

AM: I majored in print journalism, with a minor in history. As soon as I decided to go to college (only a small percentage of the population goes, in Switzerland) I never considered another major. I wanted to write.

CJ: What did your post-college journey look like?

AM: I got a job as an editorial assistant at a book publishing company working on cookbooks and travel books (I had blind-emailed them my resume and they called me a couple of weeks later) and stayed there three and a half years. It was a small company and I worked really hard so I was quickly promoted and by the end was running the editorial side, but still had a huge amount to learn. I did a quick stint in restaurant PR, then in communications at the Institute of Culinary Education for two years full time, followed by another five years as a freelancer for them. About three and a half years ago I started working for the Culinary Institute of America.

CJ: What sparked your passion for food and cooking?

AM: I grew up in a very food-focused environment but was not aware of it until time came to look for a job. My maternal grandfather in Switzerland was a farmer and we spent nearly every weekend on the farm (my very first job was picking grapes in his vineyards); he also loved restaurants and took us along whenever we were there. My paternal grandmother in France is a gourmet home-cook who plied us in foie gras, calf livers, heads-on shrimp, homemade mayonnaise, and the likes whenever we’d visit. My mother is a very adventurous cook, and my father loves great food. All this stressed, in a subconscious manner, the importance that food has in creating bounds among people, in this case my family and whoever shared our table, and how much both pleasure and culture can be communicated through food. And always seeing so much cooking around me made me comfortable cooking myself when time came.

AM 4

CJ: You are currently working toward your PhD in Food Studies at New York University. What drew you to this program?

AM: I had been looking at a variety of PhD programs, mostly in sociology, for a couple of years, but then I started working more and more around food and meeting people who told me to check out NYU. I sat in on a few classes and there was no question that I had found a home. I wanted to put rigor around my study of (and work around) food, get credentialed for my academic study of it, and commit to food as my career. 

CJ: You are also an adjunct professor at New York University, where you teach classes that include Food in the Arts: Experimental Cuisine, Food Issues in Contemporary Society, and Food Studies and Nutrition Communication Workshop. What have you enjoyed most about teaching, and though others are learning from you in your classes, what have you learned from your teaching experiences?

AM: I love being around the students the most and learn so much from them. It’s so rewarding and inspirational to see former students attaining high-level positions in the food world and achieving great things, whether in their careers or in their personal lives. It keeps me motivated and forces me to constantly see the food world from their fresh perspective, and from a scholarly perspective ensures that I am always up to date on the latest material. I like my classes to be a place of exchange—of course it’s not an entirely equal one since I grade them, but nonetheless I think that the experience is richer for everyone if they feel that they can express their opinions and ask any question they’d like.

CJ: You are the Director of Experimental Cuisine Collective, an interdisciplinary group of more than 2,500 scientists, chefs, media, scholars, and food enthusiasts that examines the connections between food and science. This sounds very interesting! What does your role as Director entail?

AM: This is a volunteer-based organization (our meetings have always been free, since we launched in 2007, since we want to make knowledge as accessible as possible) and it’s really just three of us, so it entails doing nearly everything from finding presenters and working with them on the content and format of their presentations to updating the website and communicating to our members to running errands and picking up whatever we need for meetings. We have presentations on a nearly monthly basis, with the goal of using food to better understand science and science to better understand food. Our speakers and our audience are equally diverse and the content is thorough and serious, so I always encourage presenters to speak at a fairly high level but take questions as they go to clarify what’s needed, which makes for very thought-provoking and engaging discussions.

CJ: You are the Culinary Program and Editorial Director for the Strategic Initiatives Group at The Culinary Institute of America where you work on program development for industry leadership conferences. How do you go about organizing and developing these professional forums, which have included Worlds of Flavor and reThink Food.

AM: The process starts by identifying the theme or areas of focus for each program for that year, brainstorming what this means in terms of potential conference sessions, how it relates to the current concerns and interests of the food industry (all the programs I work on are for industry only), and who would be great presenters for it. Then over several months all of that gets developed further. I reach out to potential presenters, work on the specifics of their contents once they are confirmed, craft the overall program and tweak it as needed. I look for fresh perspectives, whether it’s getting experienced presenters to talk about their expertise in new contexts or finding new angles to cover a well-known subject. I spend a lot of time attending other conferences to add to my understanding of issues and cuisines and to meet new potential talent, and also a lot of time at my desk emailing people. And do a lot of research by reading books and articles on the topics of the programs I work on. It’s a combination of macro, more intellectual elements and micro details and logistics. It’s a very demanding job and because my whole life informs what I do in that role, I don’t get to clock out very often, but I wouldn’t trade any of it and a huge reward is that I get to work with amazing people from all over the world.

CJ: You regularly write on topics related to professional and experimental cooking, and have contributed to Food Arts, Gastronomica, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, and Food Cultures of the World. You write for your blog, Pots and Plumes, and you were the editor and writer of the Institute of Culinary Education’s tri-annual publication, The Main Course, for seven years, and the director of the school’s Center for Food Media between 2008 and 2011. Additionally, you have co-authored many books including Payard Cookies, Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes and Confections for Everyone, Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining, Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home, and Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food. What is your writing process when it comes to articles and co-authoring cookbooks and books?

AM: For articles in particular, it’s all about wanting to share a great story. I don’t have much time to pitch so don’t write articles nearly as regularly as I’d like to, but the good thing is that I get to only focus on the stories I really want to tell. So it often starts with something in a conversation that strikes me or something I observe when traveling for example. Then I do tons of interviews and research, ending up with way too many notes, and I struggle through it all until an article I’m happy with emerges, which is often the second version of a piece rather than the very first one I write.

For books, it starts by developing a concept with the chef I’m working with or thinking of working with, shopping a proposal, and then once the book is under contract work with them on translating “chef knowledge” into home-cook knowledge. My job is to ask all of the questions that someone at home with no experience would have when looking at their raw recipes and write them up in a way that makes complete sense when you are alone in front of an open cookbook. For that I spend time in the kitchen with chefs but mostly a lot of time alone at my computer. Michael Ruhlman, the food writer, once said that your body has to be capable of being a writer, so being able to sit for countless hours, and that has always stuck with me. I can definitely sit at a computer for 18 to 20 hours a day, which is a very useful skill to have while on deadline for a book!

CJ: What top three skills do you need as a food writer?

AM: Curiosity is huge, it what keeps you asking the right questions—both the fun and the serious type of questions. It’s the base of good researching and reporting, and what ensures hopefully that you keep digging into a story and into a subject. Curiosity also is the opposite of jadedness, which is important to me. Connected to curiosity is food knowledge, or perhaps better stated as a proper understanding of the world you cover. I don’t mean that you necessarily have to have cooked in a professional kitchen, but you need to understand the world that you cover, including its business structure, whether you are covering chefs, artisans, farmers, or corporations. You need to know ingredients, cooking techniques, flavors, etc. You don’t need to be a policy or labor expert but you need to understand the current issues of the food system and know where to go look for answers.

It’s a question of respecting your subjects and also of treating food like a proper beat. And last, you need good writing skills. It sounds idiotic to even mention, but the downside of food being such a familiar, and a popular, topic is that many people feel very comfortable writing about it, and perhaps not everyone should.

CJ: Your book, Culinary Careers, is an incredibly useful read. In it you provide exclusive interviews with people in the food world. What advice would you personally give to a young person hoping to set themselves up for success in the culinary world?

AM: Always remember that it’s a small world, so work hard, don’t burn bridges, and you’ll create a solid network for yourself. You could do lots of things that will make you richer than working in the culinary world. But not many will make you happier or will let you work with better people.

CJ: With everything you have going on, how do you stay organized and manage your time?

AM: My life is run by Google Calendar and my notepad, which has a good old-fashioned to-do list I can cross off as I go. I’m also, for better or for worse, a workaholic, so I just work all the time, which is probably not the healthiest time management or organizational principle but it works for me!

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

AM: I’m trying to carve a little more time for relaxation and time away from my desk. There’s always another email to write (and no matter how hard I try I can’t keep up with the insane volume of my inbox), or more recipes to edit, or more work to do on my dissertation. So going kayaking for a few hours on a Saturday is actually good for my mental health and my productivity, not lost work hours.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

AM: Don’t stress about things out of your control. Take all the risks you can while you can.

Images by Carpe Juvenis

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we were growing up, we loved reading (okay, we still do!). One book in particular that was formative in our youth was Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You by Carol Weston. When you’re growing up and feel confused and sometimes lost, a book like this is impactful, especially with topics such as health, friendship, love, and family. You can imagine our excitement and disbelief when we walked into an Upper West Side bookstore to find Carol doing a reading of her latest book, Ava and Taco Cat. Carol writes novels and has been the “Dear Carol” advice columnist at Girls’ Life Magazine since 1994. It goes without saying that it’s a privilege to Spotlight her on Carpe Juvenis.

Carol’s journey is an exciting one – having spent a good amount of time abroad studying languages and culture, Carol decided to major in French/Spanish Comparative Literature from Yale University. Not only that, but she also earned her graduate degree in Spanish from Middlebury. Carol grew up with journalist parents, so she was constantly surrounded by words. She got her start with a Seventeen Magazine contest, and her career continues to be wildly successful. With more than a dozen published books, Carol shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Keep an eye out for Ava XOX and The Speed of Life, being released in February 1 and September 2, 2016, respectively.

We learned so much from this incredible children’s book writer, and we’re excited to share her words of wisdom with you. Read on to learn about how she fell in love with storytelling, how she stays up to date with the trends of being a younger teenager, and what her writing process looks like.

Name: Carol Weston
Education: B.A. in French/Spanish Comparative Literature from Yale; M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury
Follow: carolweston.com@carol_weston WriterCarolWeston  / YouTube

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Carol Weston: Seizing your youth is about making sure you’re not wasting your time. Wasting your youth would involve buying a bunch of celebrity magazines and watching Reality TV while eating Doritos and wondering why you’re not happy. Seizing your youth is staying aware that you’re young and strong and that you want to have fun, sure, but it’s also good to think big picture and begin to figure out where you want to go and start putting yourself on that path. Seizing your youth may also mean: travel! You can go away for a summer, semester, or year much more cheaply and easily now than when you are older.

CJ: You majored in French/Spanish Comparative Literature from Yale. How did you decide what to major in?

CW: I did a very cool thing in 12th grade. I went on SYA — School Year Abroad. I was a public school kid in suburban New York, and I liked French and suddenly I was living with a French family in Rennes. By the time I started college, I was a total francophile.

Yale had a renowned French department, and I enjoyed reading Rabelais, Racine, Rostand, Moliere, Zola, Flaubert, Stendhal.… But I also thought it would be fun to learn Spanish. I took an introductory course and then went to Spain the summer after freshman year with a backpack and not enough money. Fortunately, I found lodging as a mother’s helper. I spoke only Spanish that summer because I didn’t know any Americans and wasn’t on a program. I also fell in love with a Spaniard. To answer your question, it’s not that I decided to major in comp lit. It just became clear that taking six courses in two departments made sense for me.

CW C

CJ: You attended Middlebury to earn your Masters in Spanish. What led to your decision to go graduate school?

CW: The aforementioned Spanish boyfriend and my love for Spain and Spanish! I applied to Middlebury because of its well-deserved reputation as a language school. Then in grad school, I fell in love with Rob Ackerman of Columbus, Ohio, who was in Madrid on a junior year abroad from Middlebury. He and I spent nine months abroad before we even met each other’s American friends and families. It was a very romantic way to start our life together. Our first Thanksgiving was in Portugal!

CJ: Where does your love of storytelling come from?

CW: Confession: I wasn’t a big reader when I was a little kid. I did love reaching Archie Comics and Aesop’s Fables. But I was scared of great big books, and at bedtime, I always wrote in my own diaries. For me, it’s not just a love of storytelling, there’s also a love of the written word. I remember learning the word “I” when I was younger, one big stick, two little sticks, yet so much power. Wow.

CW D

CJ: How did you know you wanted to be an author?

CW: I grew up with journalist parents who truly cared about words. We were all word nerds – in a good way. My dad worked on documentaries and my mom was the garden editor of House & Garden Magazine. But she yearned to write something that would stay on the shelves for longer than one month. Her dream was to write a novel. Well, I inherited the dream, but also the nightmare of not seeming to be able to do it. I had a great running start on my career with Girltalk, which came out in 12 languages, and I wrote half a dozen more non-fiction books. But I was frustrated because I’d set out to Write a Novel, not be a big sister / helpful aunt.

Finally I had to give myself some advice: give fiction a try! I took a course at the Y and got some therapy. And I wrote a few novels. Yay! But they kept getting rejected. Boo! After all, as I’ve told hundreds of fifth graders, it’s not as though the world was waiting for me to reach my personal goal. Fortunately, I kept revising and revising and also kept sharing the novel with librarians and smart friends – I love helpful feedback – and I did not to give up. Maybe it was lucky I got all those early rejections because my first novel ended up being published by Knopf.

CJ: You have been the “Dear Carol” advice columnist at Girls’ Life Magazine since 1994. How do you stay up to date with the trends of being a younger teenager?

CW: My daughters were little kids when I got this job, so I used to worry about how I would relate to big scary teenagers. Now my kids are in their twenties, and I have to keep up with  younger kids. But it’s not hard for two reasons.

Number one: the heart of a girl hasn’t changed that much. In a hundred years girls will still be writing advice columnists about the person that they like or their fights with their sister or how to talk to their mom. Some concerns are timeless.

Number two: girls write me lots of letters, so I have a gradual ongoing education. When I need to learn more, I do a little research. I also employ college-age interns for a few days here and there, and they keep me up to date.

CJ: Twelve of your 14 books are novels for kids and specifically written with girls in mind. Why books for kids and young women?

CW: It’s very satisfying to help girls – you lend a hand, and next thing you know, they’re on the other shore – from confusion to confidence! It feels really good to make a difference. And issues like child obesity, which I am tackling in my next novel, believe it or not, can be raised and talked about. When you talk to kids about good habits, sometimes they really haven’t heard any of it before. I like that I can provide sensible information that can be life- changing. I also like turning children into readers. My favorite fan letters are when I hear from kids who tell me they didn’t like to read until they read my book.

CJ: When writing books for kids, what things do you take into consideration? How do you approach the word usage and language?

CW: I don’t think too much about word usage when I write. I really just sit down and focus on telling the story. People ask me “How many drafts do you write? Four? Five?” but the truth is, it’s more like twenty. First you write. Later you edit.

Ava and Pip
Ava and Taco Cat

 

CJ: You have two new novels coming out in 2016.

CW: I do! It’s really exciting. One is AVA XOX and it’s the third novel about a fifth-grade protagonist who has a diary and wants to be a children’s book writer. The first are Ava and Pip and Ava and Taco Cat. I was pretty pumped when The New York Times called Ava and Pip “a love letter to language.” In this new book, Ava has a crush, and tries to help a new friend who is getting teased about her weight.

The other novel coming out in 2016 is currently titled The Speed of Life and is an upper-middle grade book, meaning it’s ideal for 9th and 10th graders. I am in love with this book! It’s about a fifteen-year-old girl who thinks her life is over when really it’s just getting started. Note: One character is an advice columnist.

ava xox

CJ: What is your process? Do you have a writing routine or a strict writing schedule?

CW: No. And I have many days where I don’t actually write. Some authors set quotas for themselves where they have to write a certain amount of words or pages per day, but I don’t because I’m a hard worker and pretty disciplined anyway. When I’m in the middle of a book, I tend to get obsessed. So I’ll work in my office and then, when I can’t see straight, I’ll print everything out on blue or pink pages and edit in a library or at my daughter’s desk. In college, I would always try to find a small quiet space in the stacks. In some ways, I still seek out places where I can get into a bubble and not be tempted by a computer or anything else that might break the spell.

CW B

CJ: Every day must look different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

CW: The Washington Post suggested I write about what I’ve learned from being an advice columnist, and no doubt I’ll work on it this Monday. Some Mondays, I’m writing, others I’m revising, others I’m doing my column, others I’m taking a day off to visit a museum with an out-of-town friend visiting New York City. For better or worse, there’s no real schedule. I will admit that I’m big on To Do lists, so everything from “empty dishwasher” to “do laundry” to “submit column” goes on there, and when I cross it out I feel good. And if I’m having a hard time getting started, I’ll set the kitchen timer. As in: Just work for 60 minutes. Once you start, it’s easier to stick with it. It also helps if you plan a break ahead, whether it’s meeting a friend for a walk or for a meal.

CJ: What should a young adult who wants to be a novelist do now to set him or herself up for success?

CW: Keep a diary. It’s a great way for you to get comfortable with page and pen and also to train yourself to be a better observer and to turn experiences into paragraphs. Also see if there are any writing contests out there. I got my start with a Seventeen contest. Read, go to the library and bookstores, and attend conferences for writers. Bird by Bird and the more recent Why We Write can be inspiring too.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

CW: My 20-year-old self? I’d say something like, if you knew then what you know today – that you have a wonderful husband whom you’ve been married to for 35 years, that you have kids whom you adore and who love you, that you live in New York City, and that you speak languages and write books — well, I might say, relax already! But then again, don’t relax so much that you don’t work hard to get all that. That’s always the message, isn’t it? Work hard but enjoy your life.

Carol Weston Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis, Book images provided by Carol Weston

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

We’re very excited to introduce you to our Travel and Culture Columnist, Aysia Woods. You’ve likely seen her work all over our website (and if not, check them all out here). Currently a graduate student at The George Washington University, Aysia has a passion for all things travel. She has explored many corners of the globe, and we’re lucky enough to get a peek into her adventures through her articles.

We are inspired by Aysia’s honesty, optimism, and determination. Passionate about helping others and living a balanced life, Aysia is someone who 100% seizes her youth. Get to know Aysia, her top travel tips, and how she overcomes struggles below!

Name: Aysia Woods
Education: Graduate student at The George Washington University studying Anthropology and Journalism 
Follow: Twitter: @AysiaWoods | Instagram: @FloralGumbo
Location: Washington, D.C.

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Aysia Woods: I define it as taking advantage of all youthfulness has to offer – energy, creativity, and adaptability. These characteristics are at their peak in our early years, so I think it is extremely important to nurture them now, rather than later.

CJ: As the travel columnist for Carpe Juvenis, you share your insights and explorations with our community. What inspires you to travel?

AW: I think it’s just in my blood. My parents and the majority of my family grew up all over the world because they were in the military, and they’ve definitely taught me the value of travel at young age. I get restless very easily and exploring is the only thing that quenches that sensation. The fascinating people I meet along the way and those moments where you think, “I can’t believe this is my life,” are what inspire me the most. For example (true story), walking at 1 a.m. along a boardwalk near Cape Town, South Africa, with three European friends, and then happily stumbling upon a club full of Australian tourists hosting their “Latin Fiesta night.” Perfectly random, uniting moments like this are so priceless and inexplicable. I honestly believe if people traveled more often, there would be less conflict because there would be more understanding. The world would be a happier place.

CJ: You recently graduated from college. What has been one of the most surprising changes you’ve dealt with so far being in the “real world”?

AW: I can’t say it was surprising, but I’m still learning just how much self-motivation it takes being the “real world.” Going from being told what to do from teachers the past 18 years with rigid daily schedules to complete independence is definitely a learning curve. Because no one is forcing you to do anything, I think the key to curbing complacency is forcing yourself to stick to a strict agenda and maintain those short-term goals.

Aysia 2

CJ: If you could give yourself a piece of advice the day before you started college as a freshman, what would it be?

AW: Start networking long before you graduate. Connections are everything.

CJ: You just started graduate school at the George Washington University – congratulations!  What factors influenced you in your decision to both apply to and attend graduate school directly out of college?

AW: Thank you! I am actually in a combined 5-year B.A./M.A. program for Anthropology, so I started my first graduate classes during my senior undergraduate year and now I have just a year left. Because my major had this option, I decided applying to its 5-year program would be a logical choice because it would allow me to save money and time getting a master’s degree elsewhere. Working on a master’s thesis right after graduation isn’t so easy when all you want is the typical post-college Euro trip, but I know it will be so worth it!

CJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far?

AW: “Treat everyone like they are special,” which is from my dad. The best advice I get is always from him.

CJ: How do you measure success?

AW: I measure success in positive influence and overcoming challenges. I like to say this rather than something like “100% pure happiness” or “supporting my family” because I think a lot of the time, those are not realistic. It doesn’t matter if someone is a middle school teacher, trash man, CEO, or unemployed. The most successful people, in my eyes, are those who spread joy to others and are resilient.

CJ: You were part of the college club George Washington Women in Business (GWWIB). What was an important lesson you learned through participation in that group?

AW: GWWIB taught me so much about teamwork and the importance of personal branding, which I am forever grateful for. I was mostly involved in their Annual Spring Conferences, which was a great way to learn how to work with a large group, and also an opportunity to learn from and interact with successful professional women. The opportunities that exist in this organization are wonderful and should be taken advantage of. For anyone reading this, I urge you to get involved with GWWIB (men are welcome, too)!

CJ: What is your dream job?

AW: Having a massive family-owned company that publishes a travel magazine and has an accompanying travel agency, opening a few trendy lounges around the world, and eventually opening a retail store. That would be amazing.

CJ: You dedicate a lot of your time to community service. Why is this and would you recommend other young adults get involved in volunteerism as well?

AW: I believe giving back is an integral part of being a good citizen and overall person. If all we do is take from the world, we are leaving behind a void, rather than a legacy. I absolutely recommend other young people get involved in volunteerism. Two organizations I am familiar with are Global Vision International and D.C. Central Kitchen; they both do amazing work in their local communities. There are so many amazing programs – you just have to find one with a cause you are passionate about.

Aysia 1

CJ: Where did your interest in food justice and sustainable living come from? What advice would you give to someone new to developing on a healthier lifestyle?

AW: I always knew I was interested in food, but it was my Introduction to Sustainability class I took as a sophomore that truly opened my eyes. In one of the classes, I learned about food deserts for the first time and remember feeling so upset. I couldn’t image growing up with such limited access to fresh produce and not having the power to change it.

From that point, I quickly declared a sustainability minor and loved learning about the relationship between humans and our environment. I feel like the topics covered in this discourse should be taught to everyone! For someone new to developing a healthier lifestyle, I would say try to live a balanced life. To me, healthy living is equal parts nutritious food, physical activity, and mindfulness of your lifestyle.

CJ: How do you deal with difficult days and move past them? What have you learned about overcoming struggles?

AW: This is an embarrassing question for me, but I’ll answer honestly. My first response to a difficult situation is to get a moment to myself and cry it out. At this point in my life, I have learned to just accept shedding some tears as my natural reaction and not fight it. I think that is what overcoming struggles is all about – letting yourself be momentarily upset, de-stressing however works best for you, then finding a solution. Overcoming struggles is a constant in life, so figuring out how you deal with them early on gives you the upper hand for the difficult days in your future.

CJ: What are a few travel tips you always use?

AW: I like to always bring a fuzzy pair of socks in my carry-on for those freezing flights, keep chew-able Pepto Bismol in my pocket at all times (you just never know), and take notes. It’s so sad when you’re back home and trying to remember that song you heard on the radio or that cool shop you are meaning to go back too, but can’t. So, I always type little notes on my phone or whatever scrap of paper I have lying around.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

AW: The Big Sea: An Autobiography by Langston Hughes.

CJ: What advice would you give your 14 year-old-self?

AW: You are on the right path, so don’t try and follow behind anyone else telling you otherwise!

Aysia Woods Qs

Images by Aysia Woods

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

If the first interaction you have with Roxanne Goldberg is reading through her C.V., be prepared for extreme intimidation. It reads fluidly and cohesively, with her incredible experiences fully show-cased and ready to inspire jaw-dropping moments of awe and admiration. While her career-oriented endeavors have been extensive in length and type, they have been equally passion-driven and purposeful in their makeup. Roxanne’s ongoing pursuits of intellectual and professional improvement are revealed in the hard work and commitment she delivers to every responsibility she takes on.

But when you sit down with Roxanne in person, nearly all traces of seriousness and intimidation fade – engaging, warm, and curious, Roxanne directs her efforts at trying to find out about what matters to the people around her. (Half an hour could pass before you realize you’ve spent more time talking about yourself and attempting to answer any number of thought-provoking questions Roxanne has sent your way.) Incredibly thoughtful and eager to discover, it’s no wonder that Roxanne has managed to cultivate such a strong network of personal and professional ties.

We hope you enjoy this wonderful Spotlight of Roxanne as much as we enjoyed having the opportunity to put it together. She is, quite simply, inspiring.

Name: Roxanne Goldberg
Age: 21
Education: B.A. in Art History from The George Washington University (Graduating Dec. 2014) | Art and Its Markets at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London | Human Relations and Effective Communications at the Dale Carnegie Institute in Washington, DC
Work: Curator at Gallery 102 at The George Washington University | Contributing Writer for Hi-Fructose Magazine | Curatorial Intern at The Walters Art Museum
Follow: Website | LinkedIn

Carpe Juvenis: How would you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Roxanne Goldberg: To seize your youth is to be honest with yourself and to do want you want to do when it feels right for you in your head, your heart and your stomach.

To seize your youth is to forget the immense pressures put on young people by their parents, by their teachers, and by their overachieving peers, and to take time for self reflection, to understand what is best for not just your academic or professional goals, but for what is equally and often more important, your personal health and inner desires.

CJ: What drew you to art to begin with? What keeps you hooked?

RG: Growing up, I was always surrounded by art. My mother was an interior designer and some of my earliest memories are picking out pieces of granite in stone yards. Whenever my family traveled, we visited museums and my parents always bought art from local artisans. I hadn’t thought about art as playing a central role in my life (in fact, I came to GW to study political science), but I now realize early exposure to art has largely shaped who I am and how I perceive the world today.

Art history is such a fascinating field of study because there is always something new to learn. A former boss of mine once said art history is what all the cool nerds end up studying. In many ways, I think he was right. A good art historian is an expert not only on methods and materials, but also on the social sciences, economics and political history, among other topics like languages, religion and philosophy. And yet, it’s a very social field. There is always an active discourse and it is impossible to be bored.

CJ: Could you please tell me more about your work as a curator? Do you have a favorite exhibition you’ve put together?

RG: While I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to produce exhibitions at GW and one while studying abroad in Berlin, I think the term curator gets thrown around a bit too easily. Everyone is a curator, you curate your closet, you curate your blog, but in fact, the word curator means “overseer, manager, guardian,” and what real curators do is care for, cultivate and preserve collections for posterity. Yes, I call myself a curator because if I called myself a producer or organizer that would be confusing. My greatest respect is for the true curators, those who have the expertise and devotion that so few people have in the world, necessary to perform their jobs as civil servants, caring for and nurturing the material culture of our societies and the ones that came before us.

For that reason, I’d rather speak to an upcoming loan exhibition I am assisting with at The Walters Art Museum. The exhibition looks at the later Islamic empires—Safavid Iran, Mughal India and Ottoman Turkey—through a biographical lens. We are used to thinking about Western art history in terms of blue-chip names like Rubens or Picasso, but Islamic art tends to occupy a strange place between fine art and utilitarian object, where the artists and their patrons are too often forgotten, and the stage becomes set for the viewer to create a paradigm of the ‘other.’ This exhibition humanizes the Islamic world and tells the stories of some fairly unique and interesting characters. Working on this exhibition has been the single most rewarding experience of my undergraduate years. I’ve learned quite a lot about the process of exhibition making at a major institution and have been heavily involved in the research, which has been wildly enriching. For example, my first project was researching the exchange between the Ottoman Empire and European powers in the 18th century, and then selecting objects in the Walters’ collections that exemplify the types of diplomatic gifts King Louis XV would have given to Sultan Mahmud I. It might not sound that thrilling to your readers, but to me it was the most fascinating experience, and actually motivated me to apply for a Fulbright grant to Turkey.

CJ: Out of every course you’ve taken at any institution, which has been your favorite and why?

RG: This is such a difficult question. I have a horrible habit of becoming entirely obsessed with whatever I am studying at the moment, which makes nearly every course my favorite. For that reason, I’m going to alter your question a bit. If I had to re-take a course, and re-take it again and again indefinitely, it would be a sound art course I participated in at New York University Berlin. The professor was a very talented and extraordinarily smart sound artist named Andy Graydon. The course was very theory-based and thinking through and attempting to practice such concepts as reductive listening raptured me. We also learned how to use AbletonLive, which is a software program many DJs use, so that was very cool. But what had the greatest effect on me, was spending a lot of time just listening—taking sound walks and listening to the environment; listening to interstitial spaces like whispers and feet shuffling in museums or wind passing under bridges; and listening to sound art (the abundance of which made Berlin such an inspiring city in which to study this subject). The power of observation is profound, and the impact this course continues to have on my daily life has been remarkable. It sounds corny, but I’ve literally learned to stop and smell (and listen to) the roses.

I also should note some courses and professors I feel indebted to: Modern and Post-Modern Art and Art Theory, which sealed my fate as an art history major; Black Mountain College and Beyond, which introduced me to John Cage; Professor Phil Jacks, with whom I’ve taken four courses at GW and who has become an important mentor; and Professor Mika Natif who exposed me to the wonders of Islamic art and encouraged me to pursue my current curatorial internship at The Walters Art Museum.

1453509_10151776980408983_42482529_n

CJ: As a student, what pushes you to diversify your schedule with more than just academics?

RG: I believe life is one long educational journey, so in many ways, my formal academic studies are just one small part of my identity as a student.

CJ: You recently curated LEGAL: Branco, Gen Duarte Nick Alive, Tikka, and Vermelho. What was that experience like?

RG: The process began in October 2013 when an artist I exhibited as part of Caged In, Corcoran professor Jeff Huntington, introduced me to his friend Roberta Pardo, who would become my co-curator for LEGAL. It was a very long and very exciting process and I learned quite a lot. I am excited to say it is still continuing, and the show is now traveling to Porter Contemporary in New York.

I am now working on an entirely different exhibition, Sensorium: The Art of Perception, which has been a very rewarding and creative exercise. I am collaborating with an artist friend I met at NYU Berlin, Talia Kirsh, who is an exceptional personality and a stunning photographer, videographer and sound artist. We are both interested in topics of wellness and Eastern philosophy, and the exhibition we are producing investigates both of these issues by creating an environment in which visitors are encouraged to learn about and explore these themes through sound installations, a smell sculpture, video works, and socially engaged works, in addition to more traditional media like painting and drawing. In addition to Talia, Sijae Byun, winner of the 2013 Phillips Collection Emerging Artist Prize, and Ryan McDonnell, GWU MFA candidate are included in the exhibition.

On Thursday, December 4 and Friday, December 5, we will be hosting Sensorium: The Symposium, which includes a conference featuring scholars from such diverse fields as art history, philosophy, English, Turkish, and medicine, from GW, Georgetown University and American University, as well as such activities as breathe work and sacred movement workshops. (We might also have a Cuban Shaman performing a healing ceremony, but this is not yet confirmed.)

CJ: What future advice would you give to yourself about working with international artists?

RG: Always be curious and remember a smile is recognized in all languages and cultures.

CJ: Why did you decide to travel and work abroad in Berlin?

RG: Berlin is arguably the most important center for contemporary art. The only other contender would be New York. However, because there is no or very little art market in Berlin, the city is much more susceptible to experimental and exploratory art practices. No one expects to sell his or her artwork, and therefore people aren’t afraid to take risks. There is a wonderfully contagious air of collaboration and it is an overall very supportive environment. I hadn’t thought about it before going, but the intellectual and cultural history of the country makes the German people, and Berliners in particular, very interested and supportive of the arts and humanities. I found it so exciting that I could be sitting next to a construction worker in a bar and he could speak intelligently about Deleuze and debate the merits of a recent exhibition.

CJ: Do you have a favorite museum?

RG: There are so many. In Berlin, KW Institute for Contemporary Art has what I think is one of the most ambitious and critically interesting programs for contemporary art, and the Pergamonmuseum fuels my love for Islamic art. All the museums in Vienna, particularly the Belvedere, Albertina and Kunsthistorisches Museum are absolutely stunning, and I have wonderful memories of visiting the Rubens House in Antwerp. In DC, nothing compares to the intimacy of the Phillips Collection. It also largely depends on what exhibitions are showing at the moment. For example, one of my most memorable museum experiences has been in the Pierre Huyghe exhibition at Museum Ludwig in Cologne, which although is a wonderful institution with a great collection, was eclipsed by the Huyghe show itself, which could have been anywhere.

CJ: How do you stay organized? What tools do you use?

RG: I owe my organizational skills to being a product of the Montessori school system. I make lists for everything and then make lists for my lists. I often don’t follow these checklists and time schedules, but seeing what needs to get done, hand-written on paper, keeps these to-do items at the front of my mind. And they get done. This includes scheduling time for things like preparing and eating three proper meals a day, exercising, and doing things that are important to my personal life, like seeing live music and hosting dinner parties.

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

RG: Nothing is impossible, only some things are temporarily inconvenient.

CJ: Do you think the career advice to “Follow your passion” is effective?

RG: I think I’m much too young to be giving career advice, but this is something that today, I believe in full-heartedly. Ask me again in ten years.

Roxanne Goldberg Qs

CJ: Your work with Caged In: DC Painters Explore the Aesthetic Influences of John Cage was a labor of love. Not only did you source artists to provide original artwork, but you also created a 34-page catalog and ran a panel discussion with scholars and composers. What did you learn from this project? How has it influenced your future work?

RG: I recently went to the opening for a solo exhibition of an artist I exhibited at Caged In, Jeff Huntington—the same artist who introduced me to Roberta Pardo, co-curator of LEGAL. One of the works, a layered collage piece, was titled “Xenia/John,” a direct reference to John Cage and his early lover Xenia Andreyevna Kashevaroff, whose portrait was the subject of Jeff’s painting for Caged In. When I spoke with Jeff about the work, he said my assignment—to paint a work of specific dimensions while listening exclusively to a given set of John Cage’s music—was a catalyst to a new process and a new body of work, and that he still to this day sometimes listens to John Cage while working.

One of the most inspiring parts of the exhibition has been the aftermath. And thus, one of the greatest lessons of Caged In has been to always remain open and receptive and to allow past influences affect me in surprising, unexpected, and sometimes uncomfortable ways. On a more practical level, it has also taught me the importance and value of following-up and staying in touch with people from my past.

It is impossible to talk about Caged In without talking about the man himself, John Cage. Arguably the single most influential person in both visual art and music of the 20th century, John Cage continues to incite profound responses, more than twenty years after his death. This is the hypothesis I sought to test, and the results speak for themselves. Getting back to your question, yes, the exhibition was a labor of love. I spent the entire summer of 2013 reading John Cage’s books and listening to his music. I was abroad at the time, so the selection of artists was a bit more hands-off than I typically prefer, but miraculously, things melded together quite naturally and each of the artists I reached out to was very receptive to the idea of the project, which required each artist to not only produce an original artwork, but also to create an original piece of writing to be juxtaposed reproductions of their artworks in the catalog. The responses were overwhelming and quite surprising. Another lesson I learned is to encourage myself and others to think outside the box. I asked for painting and got photographs, charcoal drawings and glitter.

Caged In was the first occasion I organized and moderated a panel discussion. I actually really love public speaking—I always have—so I was excited to have this opportunity, but I was incredibly intimidated at the prospect of posing questions and creating an intellectual discourse with three people I admire so deeply for their brilliance and expertise. The rewards were enormous however, as I learned so much from that one-hour, and have since relished in opportunities to bring interesting individuals together for the sake of conversation and intellectual challenge (hence Sensorium: The Symposium on Dec. 4 and 5). I also learned to never be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” be genuinely curious about everything, and that a bit of professionalism goes a long way.

CJ: Who – from the past or present – inspires you?

RG: This is another difficult question. I’m continually inspired, not just by people, but also by objects, spaces, sensory experiences. If you hadn’t already asked the question about Caged In, I would say John Cage without hesitation. But I won’t bore you with more praises of Cage.

I am incredibly inspired by my intern supervisor at The Walters Art Museum, associate curator of Islamic and South Asian Art Dr. Amy Landau. Amy is one of the most brilliant and poised people I have ever met and her level of commitment to and care for her curatorial projects and scholarly pursuits is unparalleled. I feel so fortunate to have had such a thoughtful individual not only as a boss, but also as a mentor and a teacher. I am really quite devastated that as my time at GW is coming to an end, so too is my internship.

IMG_8236CJ: Would you agree with the thought that the “Art World” can be characterized as inaccessible? How would you respond to that type of critique?

RG: Sure, the “art world” can be inaccessible. But so can music or food, technology or finance, or any other field or subject for that matter.

CJ: What is your dream job?

RG: My major goal is to earn a Ph.D. in art history. I want to advance knowledge as an academic, and I aspire to be a curator at a major museum institution, where I will aim to create compelling exhibitions that contribute innovative approaches to the field, while also educating and enriching individual viewers and the larger community.

CJ: Who is your favorite artist?

RG: In terms of contemporary artists, I can never say I have a favorite because I am always learning about and being exposed to new individuals. At this moment however, I am very interested in Camille Henrot, a French artist whose exhibition Snake Grass (Schinkel Pavillion, Berlin) continues to haunt me; Susan Phillipz, Janet Cardiff, Angela Bulloch, and Fatima Al Qadiri are dizzyingly brilliant women working in sound; Anri Sala, Pipolotti Rist, Fang Lu, and Shirin Neshat all primarily work in video and are quite remarkable. Currently, I am deeply immersed in writing my honors thesis, which focuses on the artist collective Slavs and Tatars, and through my research, I’ve come to be highly interested in the socially engaged practices of Pedro Reyes, Francis Alÿs, Tino Seghal, and Pierre Huyghe. Other contemporary artists of current intrigue include: Alicja Kwade, Danh Vo, Double Fly Art Center, Olafur Eliasson, Afruz Amighi, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rachid Koraïchi, Faig Ahmed, and Hassan Hajjaj.

Going a bit further back in history, Franz Kline captured my heart long ago; I have a penchant for Dark Romanticism, particularly the works of Henry Füssli, Goya, Gauguin and Caspar David Friedrich; and though they often cannot be attributed to single artists, Islamic manuscripts are among the most captivating objects ever created.

CJ: Have you ever made art yourself?

RG: I make great two-dimensional boxes.

CJ: If you were to make art yourself, which medium would you use? (Painting, Drawing, Ceramics, installation, etc.)

RG: It would depend on the project! Probably something very intricate and detail oriented, like Jianzhi, which is the ancient art of Chinese paper cutting.

CJ: You’ve mentioned that you intend to earn a Ph.D. in art history. When would this happen and how would it benefit you? What would deter you from earning it?

RG: At this time, my focus is on honing my language skills before I commit to a Ph.D. program. Ideally, I would like to complete the Ph.D. before I am 30. If there were one word to describe me, it would be student. I love learning and there is nothing I can think of which could be more rewarding than fully dedicating myself to an academic study and contributing nuanced thought to a field about which I am highly zealous. I understand there are few things as arduous as writing a dissertation, however I crave that intellectual challenge and do not believe there is anything that would deter me.

CJ: What advice would you give to your 17-year-old self?

RG: Be confident, but be open and receptive to new influences and the possibility of change. Your beliefs and values are important, but they are not fixed. College is not a means to a job; it is a medium through which to gain a particular world perspective, one of an infinite number of lenses through which to see the world. This tinted perspective may challenge your previously held convictions, but this is good, this is a sign of growth.

Images: Courtesy of Roxanne Goldberg and Donna Ra’anan-Lerner

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Have you ever stumbled upon a Twitter feed where you find yourself 10 minutes later still laughing and scrolling through the tweets? This happened to us with Lyndsay Rush and her hilarious observations and comments. How she manages to make every day occurrences so funny in just 140 characters is a mystery to us, but we’ll happily continue reading and laughing.

Besides her obvious comedy chops, Lyndsay Rush is also a talented writer. She is a columnist for HelloGiggles, SheKnows, and The Everygirl, as well as a copywriter. Storytelling and writing has been a passion for Lyndsay ever since she was little, and she has honed her skills through different mediums – film, Spanish, and blogging. We’re huge fans of Lyndsay’s columns, as well as the advice and lessons she shares. With her great sense of humor, emphasis on being thankful, and dedication to her craft, Lyndsay definitely seizes her youth.

Name: Lyndsay Rush
Age: 31
Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas
Follow: Twitter / BrandBurst

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Lyndsay Rush: I think being aware and present and thankful for where you are in life is a trick that benefits everyone. As for seizing your youth, it’s so fantastic when you’re young to go big. Try new things, embrace what freaks you out, ask a lot of questions. Befriend failure because it means you’re out there, it means you’re making the most of life.

CJ: You went to college at the University of Kansas and studied Film and Spanish. How did you determine what to study?

LR: I always laugh at this, since it seems so random. But my justification now is that I knew I loved storytelling, I just chose the wrong medium (film) and I always loved language, I just focused on the wrong one (Spanish). But I wouldn’t change a thing. I still adore the Spanish language, and when I stumbled into copywriting, I found that having a unique background was actually appealing to clients and employers, because my tone of voice was different from someone who studied marketing or journalism, for example.

CJ: What sparked your love of writing?

LR: I have been writing since I was little. My mom had my siblings and me keep journals from the moment we learned how to read and write (which, ahem, for me was 4 years old. Child genius alert, I know.) So I learned at a really young age how fun it was to tell stories. And then when I quit my job in finance 3 years after college, I started a blog about being unemployed, and really found my storytelling and humor voice. That silly little blog ended up getting some serious traction and I eventually used it as a way to get other work, leading to my career today.

CJ: You are a columnist for Hello Giggles, The Everygirl, and SheKnows. What is your writing process and where/how do you find inspiration for articles?

LR: I’d say it is a mix of my original ideas, and then specific stories pitched to me by my editors. I’m so thankful, at all of these publications, for editors who really “get” me and let me try new things or go in directions that might be off the beaten path. It’s seriously the most fun job ever.

Lyndsay Rush 3

CJ: You are also a freelance copywriter for a number of different companies. What does being a copywriter entail?  

LR: Basically anything that businesses might need written, I write. From web copy, to naming products and services, to taglines and slogans, to ads, to social media, to bios to emails…there is so much that businesses need to communicate, and it all has to be specific to who they want to reach, which in turn feeds how they need to speak (write.) At the beginning of launching out on my own, I literally took anyone who would pay me. I was just stunned that I was getting paid to put words together. It was so dreamy. But then as I’ve gotten deeper into the field, I’ve been able to hone in on what I love the most, and only accept projects and companies that want my specific tone (conversational, witty, unexpected). This is a real treat, because I get to do what comes most natural to me.

CJ: You are an incredible, relatable, and hilarious writer. Your Twitter feed, in particular, is smart and laugh out loud funny. How does humor influence your writing, and how can one improve their humor writing skills?

LR: First of all, thank you, that’s so kind. Secondly, you’re right I am hilarious. Kidding. But really, I think observation is the key to humor. I think the best comedians and humorists are able to see at a layer deeper than the average person. They point out and heighten things that we may have missed but that always make us go, “That is SO true!” It also helps to keep track of the people you think are funny, and see how they write certain jokes, or tell certain stories. There is so much to learn from others and being well read is a huge help. Some people think that if you read other humorous writing that you will be tempted to emulate them and lose your voice, but I disagree. I don’t think people can fake being funny; I think it just feeds into your overall experience in life and adds different notes to your writing.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from being a writer?

LR: This is tough, but I think a big lesson I have learned along the way is that the more people there are reading your stuff, the more negative feedback you’ll get. This is just a numbers game. When I started writing for Hello Giggles, for example, and thousands of people were reading my articles, those were some of the first times I had gotten really nasty comments from readers. Similarly with bigger websites I’ve written. People love to hate stuff. We are a bunch of haters, these days. But try to focus on those who love what you have done, and then if (this is a big IF) there is actual constructive criticism in the comments or feedback, take that and grow. It’s all an opportunity to grow and get better and throw it in those haters’ faces. Just kidding. Mostly.

CJ: What is the best part about being a writer? The most challenging part?

LR: Best part for me being a freelancer is working in my pajamas. Most challenging part is being self-motivated, organized, and disciplined so that you get that work done…even if it’s while in your robe.

Lyndsay Rush 4

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

LR: This is going to make me look so un-glamorous, because I can be a kind of nerdy introvert. But I wake up, make coffee (a must,) get out my to-do list for the day (I am still old school on this, I write those suckers down. Nothing is more satisfying than crossing something off a list with a pen. Nothing!), and then I prioritize what needs to be done and when. Then I check and answer emails, and then get to work. If I have a big project starting that day I will go work form a coffee shop, since a change of scenery sometimes helps spark my brain. I take breaks whenever I need to, to ride my bike or meet a friend for lunch, or watch a show. I LOVE and thrive on a flexible schedule and consider it a luxury that I don’t have to be creative in that dastardly 9-5 window. I work a lot of nights with wine, especially if I’ve given myself the afternoon to play.

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be a writer do now to set themselves up for success?

LR: Read a lot. And take notes on anything that you observe that catches your interest. Take classes! Improv classes and writing classes. Pay attention to what your heroes are doing. Write every day, even if it’s minor, even if it’s 3 jokes about current events, or one line of dialogue. Have a time and place where you write and stick to it. If you truly care about it, prove it by making time for it and doing the work.

CJ: When you aren’t crafting clever tweets or writing your columns, how do you like to spend your time?

LR: I love to travel. Because I work for myself, I can go on trips and still get work done, while taking in a new culture. I like riding my red bike around Chicago and checking out new coffee shops and bakeries. I really enjoy improv and sketch shows, iO and Second City in Chicago, and UCB in New York. My dream night is a dinner party on a friend’s patio. Oh, and I consider myself a nail artist. Probably change my polish 3-4 times a week like a total psycho.

Lyndsay Rush 2

CJ: What motivates you in your everyday life?

LR: Hope, change, god, relationships, chips.

CJ: What’s next for you?

LR: Ideally, I would be writing for television. Either late night shows as a monologue writer or for sitcoms, or awards shows. That’s my next big plan, at least.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

LR: I would tell her to stop trying to please other people. And to really stop worrying what other people thought; to be a little more open-minded and daring, and to put away her credit card. I would also tell her to cut it out with the tanning already.

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

It’s one thing to watch TV and enjoy it. It’s another to watch TV, enjoy it, AND write awesome articles about the shows. Samantha Rullo does just that. She spins television shows and celebrity topics into articles that are spot-on and too much fun to read. Yes, her job requires her to watch television shows and write about them. So, how does one become an entertainment journalist and acquire cool internships like this? Read on to find out!

Name: Samantha Rullo
Education: B.A. in Journalism and Cinema Studies from New York University
Follow: Bustle | Twitter

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Samantha Rullo: I would define it as both taking advantage of youth in the sense of having fun and trying new things that you probably couldn’t experience later in life, but also taking steps to set yourself up so you can seize the rest of your life and have the foundation you need to be happy and successful.

CJ: What did you major in at New York University and how did you determine what to study?

SR: I’m double majoring in journalism and cinema studies. My freshman year I went to USC where I was a PR (Public Relations) major, and then I had some experience at a PR internship and I also had experience writing for USC’s online newspaper, and I really liked writing, so when I decided to transfer, NYU didn’t offer PR but they had journalism, I figured I would do journalism and I fell in love with it. I picked cinema because I want to do entertainment writing and I figured it was the best compliment.

CJ: Where have you interned and how did you go about securing those internships?

SR: I have had four internships. My first one was for a PR company based out of New York that I found through a USC alum who was my supervisor there. She had sent a posting to the USC journalism school’s career advisers and I was always looking for anything that was in New York and I applied and got it. I attained a lot of press research experience and skills that I still use.

By the time I applied for my next internships, I knew I wanted to do journalism and I started looking for a magazine internship because I like magazines and digital writing. I also really like weddings, so I interned at The Knot, which I believe that I found either through NYU or ed2010.com. That internship was half writing and half fashion so I did research and put together lists and did stuff for the website, as well as some fashion closet stuff which involved a lot of wedding dresses.

Once I knew I wanted to do entertainment, I applied to TV Without Pity, which is an NBC brand that does reviews, interviews and other news about TV and movies. I think I found that on ed2010.com, too. There I wrote a lot and did some social media. I also did some of their daily features and slideshows. I learned a lot and it was a really great experience.

For this summer, I found Bustle.com, which at the time didn’t even have a name, it was just listed as ‘journalism internship.’  I applied and said I wanted to do entertainment writing, and I sent them samples of my writing and an edit test. I had an interview with my now-supervisor, and I was able to start there in June and I stayed on in the fall because it’s been an amazing experience.

CJ: You are an Associate Entertainment Editor at Bustle.com. What is your writing process and how do you come up with story ideas?

SR: Since I’m in entertainment, a lot of it is pegged to entertainment news. For coming up with ideas, I go through Twitter, Tumblr, and I follow all of the media I read so I can see all of the headlines. If someone got engaged, I’ll do my own take on it, or if something in general is being talked about a lot, I will come up with my own story based on it. For example, when Breaking Bad was a trending topic, I came up with my own spin that no one else has covered. I wrote a piece called “How to Watch Both ‘Breaking Bad’ and the Emmys,” so I try to tie my stories with topics that are being talked about a lot.

Or, I come up with a story in my mind and hope something happens with a celebrity so I can write about it. My writing process has a pretty quick turnaround. I do at least three articles per shift, up to five sometimes. I find all of my media first, so if I’m including images, GIFS, or video, I’ll find those first and make sure those are pulled because that’s going to shape what I’m writing about. If I want to say something but I can’t find the GIF, I can’t write about it. I pull any media and sources confirming what I’m saying, and then I start with a lead and pull my unique angle together and then fill it in and edit and make sure it all works.

CJ: Where does your interest in entertainment journalism come from?

SR: I’ve wanted to work in the entertainment field for a while. I really like television and film, but I don’t necessarily want to make TV or film, and I realized journalism and writing was a good way to combine the two. I started doing TV reviews for my school’s newspaper and I got good feedback so I took it from there. When I got into my second major I got really into it, and it was a great way to combine my interests.

CJ: What advice do you have for youth who want to be entertainment writers? What can they do now to get a head start in journalism?

SR: Try to write as much as you can to start. It’s really important to have writing samples because if you don’t have samples for some internships, you can’t even apply. Published samples are really good, so get your writing out there – through your school newspaper or through your own blog or website, for example. For journalism, I would never let an opportunity pass because of school. I’ve had situations where I worried I couldn’t do as many internship hours while taking classes and homework, but I still ended up doing it and you figure it out along the way and your experiences with your internship are usually just as worthwhile as whatever class you were also taking, and you just might have to stay home some Saturdays to make up homework. At the end of the day, having internship experience on your resume is best.

b

CJ: How did you balance interning and being a college student?

SR: Like I said, stay home sometimes. It’s tough sometimes. I try not to take too many hard classes at once. I try to have a mix of classes I really enjoy and classes that require a lot of reading and papers. I take a class that is more hands-on so I’ll have more free time. I had to stop doing a club at school because I couldn’t attend the meetings. Just prioritizing is important.

CJ: What three traits have helped you succeed as an intern?

SR: I try to be really friendly always. I try to have a friendly relationship with co-workers and my supervisor, so that they get to know me and get to know what I’m most interested in. Just being driven and offering to do something that other people don’t want to do and taking advantage of every possible opportunity. I try to be honest about things. If I need help with something, I’d rather ask for help and have the project turn out well than not ask and have it turn out bad.

CJ: Where did you study abroad? What was your big takeaway from studying abroad and do you think it was worth it?

SR: I didn’t have time for studying abroad since I transferred. I would have liked to if I had the chance. I would have liked to go to Italy, but hopefully I can go on my own, eventually.

CJ: What was the college transfer process like for you?

SR: It was like applying to college again so it was annoying. But I’m from the East Coast, so I just had to get readjusted and figure out NYU.

CJ: What activities were you involved in throughout high school? Were there any experiences that were most memorable or life changing?

SR: I wasn’t super involved in high school. If I had known I wanted to go into journalism I might have done more activities related to journalism. We didn’t really have a big school newspaper. My senior year we had to do a service project, so my friends and I helped kids with special needs and it was really memorable because it was rewarding and I’d never had the chance to be as involved with charity work before. I hope I do again because it was very rewarding.

In college I have been very involved with Washington Square News. I went to a meeting my first week at NYU, started as a writer and now I’m a senior editor. I wouldn’t have gotten internships if I didn’t have the writing samples that came from working on the newspaper.

CJ: What was your experience like going to college in New York City?

SR: Expensive. But I like it, and I wouldn’t have had any of the experiences I’ve had if I weren’t in New York. I’m so lucky, because if you’re in the middle of nowhere, what can you do? There are a lot of opportunities here. It’s also really fun just to be around everything and I have a chance to go to events and report on them and interview cool people, just stuff I could never do anywhere else.

CJ: What do you wish you had known before attending college?

SR: I wish I had known less because I feel like I went in with super crazy expectations. People will give you their own opinions and advice, and I would be thinking, “Oh, am I supposed to do this because that’s what they did?” I eventually became open to it and just made my own experiences, but freshman year I struggled with what I’m supposed to be doing and how I was supposed to handle things, so I wish I didn’t have any preconceptions and that I just went into college not knowing what to expect.

CJ: Who is your role model?

SR: I’ve worked with a lot of women who have been great role models and I’ve always had someone I could talk to and whose career path I’ve really admired. They still love what they do and I hope I’m like that when I’m older. I also really like Tina Fey and Giuliana Rancic, especially the journalism side and she uses it to be a breast cancer advocate. I’m reading Lean In right now, so currently Sheryl Sandberg is a big role model.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

SR: I do wish I had known I was going to get into journalism. I do it more now, but I would tell myself to not be afraid to try new things, such as a broadcasting class. At 15,  I was too afraid of what people thought to step out of my comfort zone, so I would say to not be afraid and try new things.

Sam Rullo qs