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She writes about her week shadowing Sharon Begley P’10, science editor for Newsweek, in New York City
Biology major Nicole Elstein ’12 (Bayport, N.Y.) spent a week over winter break in New York City participating in an externship hosted by Sharon Begley P’10, the science editor for Newsweek magazine.

I could not have asked for a better externship experience. Working with Ms. Begley was truly a delight because she was welcoming and kind-hearted. I have always been interested in the fields of science and journalism, and this externship allowed me to combine my distinct interests. While at Newsweek, I attended a meeting, met other Newsweek staff, and wrote an article to be posted on the Newsweek web site.

I was always busy at Newsweek, mostly writing my article. The article discussed how the economy was influencing more volunteers to take part in clinical drug trials. Ms. Begley offered me some very useful research sources. Over the week, I read through scientific journals, articles, and books pertaining to my topic. I also interviewed two authors, Alex O’Meara and Dr. Jill Fisher, who have written books about the benefits and risks of clinical trials.

For the interviews, I chose the people I wanted to speak with and I prepared my own questions. Ms. Begley guided me through the process of how to set up an interview.  Additionally, she gave me advice on how to arrange my questions. Prior to interviewing the first author, I picked up his book from the local library when I came home from work.  After reading his book, I was able cite passages and form more specific questions for the author.  The interviews really helped to improve my communication skills.  I enjoyed talking to the people I was interviewing, and I learned how to prepare for a discussion.

Besides writing an article and interviewing people, Ms. Begley and I talked about journalism. She offered useful advice, and she spoke about her experience at Newsweek, which helped me gain better insight into the journalism industry.

This externship furthered my interest in someday working as a journalist. I enjoy researching the latest reports and talking about the news with others. The ability to convey a complex issue for the general public is not always easy, but it’s an exciting task.  Writing a story is like finding individual puzzle pieces from numerous sources and fitting them together to form a clear message. Journalism is an interest that will always be part of me, no matter what my future holds.

Besides journalism, I am equally interested in medicine, especially veterinary medicine. Ever since I was young, I have worked toward the goal of becoming a veterinarian, and I also have experience working with animals. But after working at Newsweek, I realize it is possible to combine my interests. I can continue my studies in the pre-vet track. Later on, I can also work as a journalist in a field I’m interested in, such as animal conservation or medicine.

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