Reflections: My Time in Studio 20
I recently graduated from the Studio 20 program at the NYU Journalism Institute. I had the honor and the pleasure to study with amazing professors like Jay Rosen, Jason Samuels, Mitch Stephens, Clay Shirky, Adam Penenberg and Zach Wise.
I decided on going to grad school on a whim. I graduated undergrad with a BS in Psychology and a BA in English. I had been contributing to a hyperlocal blog, Buffalo Rising as a food writer. I knew that I wanted to go to NYC. I applied to CUNY, Columbia and NYU.
I wanted to write profiles or long-form narratives but I also wanted to do something with computers and technology. I stumbled upon the Studio 20 program. With newly established programs, you can either come out of it with a type of education no one has had before, or you can have an awful experience of a program that’s not well thought out.
I was accepted at NYU and CUNY, and Jay Rosen invited me to visit the school and sit in on a class. After seeing how Jay Rosen pushed his students to innovate, I was convinced.
My Studio 20 class was amazing. We did everything together. We learned together, ate together, suffered late night study sessions together, and celebrated together. For 15 people who came from all over the world with all different interests— we made this program work for ourselves and each other.
Sure, things were a little shaky after the first semester. We wanted multi-media skills. As a result, Jay Rosen and Jason Samuels hired some help to teach us the skills we asked for. More importantly, they brought on Zoe Fraade-Blanar, who taught us skills we didn’t even know we wanted to learn. We also had Zach Seward from WSJ for some nerdy programming lessons that we lovingly called “Sunday Hangover”. Did I mention we blew off steam after a long week of work together also?
If anyone missed anything, we were there to help them catch up. Fast typers copied down the code and used iChat and gChat to send it out before the slides changed. As a group, we were unstoppable.
Zoe taught us wire-framing, CSS, HTML, UX testing, pitching, and how to group our ideas into an elegant little package. She was our spirit animal. We’d channel her energy and brilliance during our presentations.
At the end, we all celebrated at Jay Rosen’s place. We realized that even though we came from very different backgrounds, (some of us writers, musicians, foodies, audiophiles, and others were more of the undecided jack of all trades) we all made the program work for our own goals and interests.
Sure, Jay is stubborn and opinionated—but he never pressed his beliefs on us. He showed us the importance of having an opinion and putting thought into the things we support and speak about. The only thing he pushed us to do was to innovate. He held us to a higher standard. He wanted us to change the world. He can always tell when someone is taking the easy way out and always challenged him/her to do more. As a result, we held ourselves and each other at a higher standard. We pushed ourselves to breaking points, then talked each other down from the ledge.
Jason taught us the importance of writing skills because at the end of the day, we have to know how to write. Mitch Stephens taught us the history of journalism — only so that he and Jay can challenge us to think differently.
I learned some amazing multi-media skills from Zach Wise, and I learned to look at digital communication spaces in a completely different way from Clay Shirky. Clay teaches by way of inspiration and motivation. For someone who is so brilliant, he is not too proud to learn from his students—and as a result, his students are always tormenting themselves to impress him with something new (I know I did).
I finished my time at NYU with a long-form narrative class with Adam Penenberg. I learned so much about writing longer pieces from him. He really pushed me to write and pitch like I’ve never done before.
I can truly say that joining Studio 20 was the best decision I have ever made in my life. My friendship and co-working relationship with 15 of my classmates will be a part of the rest of my life.
This program reminds me of the quote by Steve Jobs:
“While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
With that said, if you are someone who loves innovation and is ready to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your whole life— apply for Studio 20, and just close your eyes and jump.
Thinking about applying? I’m here for you. leave a comment or @ me on twitter (@cli6cli6) or use the ask me anything feature on tumblr and I will get back to you.