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More than just a Shadow: Kacey Deamer, '13, Reflects on the Park Scholar Junior NYC Trip

By: Kacey Deamer '13

It’s hard to explain since I still don’t believe it myself, and yet it has now been more than a month since my shadowing experience in New York City over Fall Break.

Through the alumni network and my own personal relationships, I was able to connect with an editor at Scientific American — a beacon of hope for an aspiring environment and science reporter.

David Biello, associate editor of environment and energy, agreed to have me follow him around for a day.

But my experience was so much more than that.

First of all, in our conversations before the actual day, David said that I would likely be bored since all he does is make phone calls and type on the computer, and therefore he would pass me around the office when things became too mundane.

He lied about my potential boredom.

After the obligatory walk-around the office and review of the past few magazines, David explained his job producing daily content and prepared for the news meeting. As we sat in a circle, the associate editors pitched stories and updated on current projects to Robin Lloyd, online news editor.

Then it came to me, and Robin asked me to pitch a story idea. What?

Of course, I was shocked; a shadow doesn’t talk. But in true Park Scholar fashion, I had prepared some ideas to pitch if for some reason I was given an opportunity.

Even more to my surprise, they liked one. David even proposed I formally propose it as a freelance piece – for which I would be PAID.

This all happened before noon.

David then had to write and record a podcast for daily web content at scientificamerican.com. He asked me to help, and while he did already have all of his research completed and a basic outline. I did make some big decisions – in my opinion – concerning word choice and organization.

We then went to record in SciAm’s in-house recording studio, aka a soundproof closet-sized windowless room. But in-house recording studio sounds nicer, and it was still pretty fancy with the foam walls.

David’s children had fallen ill that morning, so he had to go home early to take care of them. So I was passed on to my next shadowing experience: lunch with the current news intern.

Not only did I get the inside scoop about working at one of my most respected publications (and a dream of mine to work with) – she also provided me with valuable contact information concerning other science and environment magazines in NYC. It’s surprising the conversation that can occur over a delicious yet over-priced bowl of soup at a city deli.

After returning to the office I chatted with a few other editors in the wing and took some time to read over last month’s issue while I waited for Robin to finish up her work.

Coffee with the editor? Don’t mind if I do.

As we walked to Starbucks, stood in-line for delicious yet over-priced coffee, grabbed her lunch (early dinner at this point) to-go and walked back to the office, Robin and I talked. I mean, we really talked. There were questions and answers and name-drops and laughs.

And my shadowing experience ended. I rode the subway back to our hotel, preparing my thank you emails in my mind. Wrote and sent them as soon as I walked in the door. And in return? Lists of contact information, potential internships, freelance work and so much more.

A day as a shadow? No. It was so much more.



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