Natasha Rodriguez '16

Natasha RodriguezWhat are you doing professionally?
I’m a Longform Journalism Fellow at Columbia Journalism School. Basically, I’m getting paid to write a longform piece of my choosing. I’ve been reporting on the hip-hop scene in Havana for the last four months.

How did Sarah Lawrence College prepare you for this career?
My Sarah Lawrence education has helped me significantly for as long as I’ve been pursuing journalism. At Sarah Lawrence, you’re taught to work independently. There’s also a strong emphasis on writing and reading. No matter what class I was taking a SLC, I was always writing. That’s all really helped me get ahead in the work I’m doing now. Journalism is very fast paced and you have to be on top of everything at all times. At Sarah Lawrence, I had a pretty demanding workload so that definitely prepared me well for reporting.

What internships or other activities did you participate in while a student at Sarah Lawrence College?
I interned at the Norwood News, Simon and Schuster, Bust Magazine, and Vice.

Why did you go to graduate school and why did you attend the school you did?
I went to graduate school because I wanted to gain more journalistic skills like photojournalism, investigative techniques, audio, video, etc., but also I really missed being in school. I love learning and being in classes and meeting people from different backgrounds with similar interests and varying opinions. I also wanted to get my foot in the door and I felt like Columbia Journalism School could do that for me. I chose Columbia because of its reputation and all the connections that it has to offer. Also, the professors are fantastic. I don’t think you need to go to graduate school for journalism, but it’s not a decision I regret one bit. I learned a lot in that year. It was a super rewarding program.

What brought you to what you’re doing today?
I’ve always loved longform journalism. I love reading lengthy, narrative-driven stories and I love writing them. Columbia Journalism School offers some great postgraduate research fellowships so I applied to the longform fellowship and luckily I got it. It’s a four month fellowship where you get to work on any longform story you want. You work with wonderful editors and you get a decent bit of funding for it. I used the money to go to Cuba and report on hip-hop in Havana. Ideally I would like to report internationally so I’m very grateful I’ve had the opportunity to get started doing just that.

Do you have advice for current Sarah Lawrence students considering a career in journalism
Get internships and get clips! Don’t worry about where you’re interning and where you’re getting published, just make sure that you do intern and you do publish your work. The best journalism internship experience I ever had was at the Norwood News, which is the least known place I’ve ever interned at. That ended up being a boon to me. It was a small newspaper with an even smaller staff so I got to go out and report from day one. All of my stories got published in the paper and online. I learned a ton that summer. In terms of clips, just make sure you have some. It doesn’t matter if you’re just writing for The Phoenix as long as your story is good. Clips are clips! Also, take advantage of being at Sarah Lawrence. There’s not a lot of schools out there where you’re going to have access to so many great professors. Take advantage of your conference work to do what you really want to do and maintain good relationships with your teachers.