Hi there! I’m Stephanie Ewing, and I’ll be continuing in my capacity as Graduate Student Ambassador for the Journalism MA program this fall semester. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I field:
Q: Wow, the journalism MA is only a year and a half long! How do you like that?
A: The program is intense, and the people are amazing. My classmates are a close-knit, diverse, and very talented bunch. The professors are extremely supportive, but expect you to deliver professional quality work, every time. I see this as great practice for when you expect to get a professional quality job.
Q: Do you work outside of class?
A: Yes. I’ve held various jobs outside class hours—generally between 15-20 hours a week. These have included tutoring developmental writers, serving as a graduate assistant, editing ChicagoTalks.org, working at a magazine, and working for Columbia’s marketing and communications office.
Q: Whoa, sounds like a lot…how do you manage it all?
A: Through practice, dazzling time management skills, minimizing procrastination, and maximizing coffee intake.
Q: Practice? What do you mean?
A: This is my second master’s degree. My first is in religious studies, where I specialized in studying the intersection of religion and public policy/politics (which does come in handy for journalism). I do not recommend getting two masters degrees. Turns out you can’t trade in two MA’s for a PhD.
Q: What is the favorite thing you’ve worked on in the Journalism MA program so far?
A: Hm… that would probably be a four-way tie between a radio piece I produced covering Mitt Romney’s early primary race in Illinois, a lengthy and as of yet unpublished feature piece about the way special education students in Illinois transition into the work world, an in-progress feature piece about a cursed shipwreck in the Straits of Mackinac, and a humorous personal essay about this one time I made a very bad decision to be in a beauty pageant.
But I’ve also very much enjoyed the opportunity to edit—especially when as the graduate assistant for the Covering NATO class, I was basically a desk editor, publishing over 30 student pieces on ChicagoTalks and keeping track of them in the field.
Q: What do you hope to do with your degree?
A: I’d like to write and edit, preferably long-form narrative journalism (think feature-length story-driven articles in New Yorker, Slate.com, The Atlantic or some of the longer pieces you hear on NPR) and work on some creative nonfiction on the side. I have several book ideas that I’d like to pursue as well. Mainly, though, I’d like to be gainfully employed and writing—the other details are negotiable.
Q: What do you do outside of school?
A: Well, before July 29, I spent my non-working hours knitting, reading, salsa dancing, and scuba diving whenever the water wasn’t too cold in the Great Lakes. But since getting engaged, my main hobby has become planning a sane and budget-friendly wedding while squeezing in quality time with my fiancé and our friends, family, and pet bird.