NU-Q students intern at top global news outlets

This spring, five NU-Q students interning for prestigious news outlets in New York and Washington, DC. shared their experiences transitioning from the classroom to the newsroom.

Students at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) are completing their 10-week residency programs at major media organizations in the U.S., Europe, and the region. NU-Q’s Journalism Residency program gives students an opportunity to intern at some of the leading news, media, and public relations firms in the world.

“NU-Q’s journalism and strategic communication residency requirement enables students to learn the kind of office skills and life lessons that can be developed only in a demanding, fast-paced business environment,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q.  

This spring, NU-Q students interning for prestigious news outlets in New York and Washington, DC., shared their experiences transitioning from the classroom to the newsroom.

Jia Naqvi, The Washington Post

Imagine you’re a student working at your first journalism job and someone threatens to sue you. That happened to Jia Naqvi, who is interning with The Washington Post. She was seeking comment on a story when a representative for a global corporate giant threatened her and the paper with legal action. Her editor’s response? Don’t be intimidated – get the story. “That’s the kind of advice that really helps,” Naqvi said. “You have to keep on pursuing and get the quote.”

Naqvi said that “from day one” her editors “threw me in the fire.” Even before she was given email login details, she was assigned a story. Naqvi has written articles dealing with children and adolescents, pollution, climate change, opioids, and tobacco. 

Although Naqvi enjoys independence, she described the Post’s health and environmental science team as “one big happy family because everyone is very close and we can easily walk up to reporters and editors and ask them any questions. It’s very friendly.” After graduation, she plans to pursue photo and/or health and science journalism.

Read one of Naqvi’s stories, “A Mysterious Medical Condition Gets a Name — and a Genetic Link to Deafness,” on The Washington Post’s “To Your Health” blog.

Jueun Choi, USA Today

Jueun Choi said it took a little while to acclimate to her role with USA Today. The classroom experience, she noted, involves a lot of mentoring, but at USA Today “work doesn’t revolve around you, you must revolve around work.” That can mean turning a story around in a day.

Choi adapted, writing two to three articles per week on a wide range of topics. One story she pitched turned into a personal favorite. -- “Want to Get Ahead at Work? It Can Pay to be Funny” looks at how humor can elevate one’s professional status in the workplace. Another byline about parents and child nutrition received more than 30,000 shares on Facebook.

Through the journalism residency program, Choi learned to become “comfortable with the fact you don’t know something… I became less shy about asking questions.” This, she said, was especially important when speaking to a researcher about the esoteric science of tornados.

Anzish Mirza, US News & World Report

Anzish Mirza has learned several valuable lessons at US News & World Report - one on developing sources and pursuing leads, the other on persistence. Mirza said learning to develop sources and finding leads led her to be “constantly on Twitter, following hashtags to see if there’s something I can pitch,” Mirza said. “A lot of my stories have been based on things I’ve found on social media." 

On persistence, Mirza discovered that when people are reluctant to respond to interview requests, that’s a journalistic red flag. “Now I know it’s a story when I have to wait days for people to respond.”

Mirza worked for three departments at US News & World Report – STEM, Healthcare of Tomorrow (HOT), and News. She has written about the closing of Washington, DC, restaurants in solidarity pro-immigration protests around the United States and she also penned articles about human rights, and about Trump appointees.

You can read Mirza’s story – “Washington Restaurants Close for 'A Day Without Immigrants'” – at US News & World Report.

Ifath Sayed – Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is a non-profit that produces and supports journalism covering underreported global issues. Ifath Sayed took on a wide portfolio of responsibilities at the Center — managing its social media accounts, developing educational topics, helping to plan events for students interested in journalism, contributing to e-books, and contributing blog posts about the Center’s work. In her role, Sayed became familiar with “logistical details … and how to contribute to various departments in an organization.” Sayed added, “A journalism organization can actually be doing so many different things … that’s what’s unique about the Pulitzer Center.”

She undertook larger stories as well, collaborating with a fellow intern on a video piece documenting the long-overlooked significance of US slave cemeteries. She has also applied for a Center student fellowship grant to pursue a story on the child refugee crisis in Malaysia, both from an educational and mental health perspective.

Sayed felt at home at the Center because it “talks about a lot of issues that I really care about – women’s rights, the rights of disenfranchised people, etc. ... My values match with the Pulitzer Center’s values.”

Habiba Abass, Vice News

Habiba Abass, is pursuing a magazine track during her degree program at NU-Q and Vice News seemed the ideal setting – a Brooklyn-based media organization that would allow her to develop her feature writing skills while digging into human rights and social justice issues, particularly as they relate to the Middle East.

When Abass first arrived at Vice News, she helped colleagues research stories and even worked on a script for a reporter doing a live Vice News broadcast about the March 8 “A Day without a Woman” strike. She also pitched and published a byline titled, “A Critical Point in Our History: 20 Million People on the Brink of Famine as Trump Prepares Major Cuts to UN Aid.”

Although Abass got a lot of feedback from editors, she “was surprised how much independence I was given. I’m used to having professors telling me what to do, deadlines, etc. … [At Vice News] I get to choose what I want to do, when I want to do it, how I want to do it, which is pretty cool.”