February 28, 2008

Natalie Cothren ’09 Shadows Alan Finder P’08 during Externship at The New York Times

English major shares her experiences exploring career options

Natalie Cothren ’09 (Akron, Ohio), an English major, recently explored the inner workings of The New York Times and received valuable advice for the pursuit of her career goals during an externship hosted by Alan Finder P’08, reporter for the education department. The following is a first person account of Cothren’s experience.

  • Alan Finder P’08 reflects on hosting externships for Natalie Cothren ’09 and Meghan Muldowney ’08
  • Meghan Muldowney ’08 shares her experiences externing at The New York Times

There is a local New York pizza place on 40th Street in midtown Manhattan that I have eaten at on occasion. Until this past June I recall a great deal of scaffolding and steel beams cluttering the view across the street.

As I went about exploring where my externship would take place, I grabbed a slice of pizza there to warm myself up and turned around only to be greeted by a different view this time. Instead of harsh angular steel, I was met with a glowing wall of glass that seemed to soar infinitely into the sky. Attached to the building in sculpted metal were the words, “The New York Times.” Needless to say, I did not sleep well as I anticipated opening the floodgates of that glass wall.

The next morning, with reporter Alan Finder’s directions to the correct front desk in hand, I pushed open the thick glass doors and stepped into a surreal world of business suits and elevators. So commenced my externship with The New York Times, one of the most reliable newspapers in history.

Upon meeting Alan Finder, I could not have asked for a better person to act as the portal between the massive amounts of talent and information, and myself. Mr. Finder began by setting aside time to get to know me. From there, with my career interests in mind, he was able to connect me with specific people and departments. While Mr. Finder works specifically as an education reporter, he did not limit my experience to the talent of the education department.

I had the opportunity to speak with writers from the art, sports, and investigative departments. Specifically, I spent time with a seasoned writer in the art department who not only works with the newspaper, but also teaches writing courses at a prestigious college. This writer was able to give me advice as to how I should pursue my ultimate goal of becoming an art critic through refining my ability to write critically.

In spending close time with Alan Finder, I learned a great deal about the specifics of a news story in progress. He allowed me to look through the inside information used to piece together an article. This included going over notes he had taken, interviews he had conducted and research material he had collected. I also experienced first hand phone interviews and so was able to observe the professional interaction between reporter and interviewee. My participation in this process allowed me to see the beginnings of what is required of someone that works at a newspaper of this caliber.

From this externship I learned about the reality of establishments, such as the New York Times, which are centered around collecting and distributing reliable information on a substantial scale. The importance of being knowledgeable within your department and also of social and political surroundings is required to be successful on this level. My career ambition of becoming an established art critic and writer was bolstered by the opportunity to spend time with Alan Finder. It was inspirational and intimidating to observe and participate in the daily workings of The New York Times, but in doing so, it has left me with an immense amount of information to help me become a successful graduate of Lafayette College.

Cothren also participated in an externship at the
New York Daily News last January. She serves as copy editor for the College’s newspaper, The Lafayette, and is head intramural supervisor for Kirby Sports Center. Cothren is a Gateway Ambassador for Career Services and has been a member of the College’s crew team since 2005.

  • Internships/Externships
  • Career Services
  • English
  • Art

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