Name: Samantha Galasso
Year: Class of 2014
Hometown: Wilton, CT
How did you first become involved in Her Campus?
Over the summer of my freshman year, I had nothing better to do than surf different Twitter handles and I stumbled upon Her Campus' Twitter account. I really liked what the website had to offer, and I noticed there was no chapter geared towards my school (at the time I was attending Providence College), so I decided to apply to run a chapter for PC and I'm doing it again at Nova, so here we are.
Why did you decide to transfer to Villanova?
While I absolutely loved Providence, I woke up one day and decided I wanted to major in Communication, which is a program PC doesn't offer. I've gotten really involved in journalism ever since I left high school, so I thought in the long run it would be better for me to go to a school that would allow me to specialize in that field.
Have you had other experience in the field of journalism besides Her Campus?
Yeah, the summer after my freshman year all of my friends were getting internships and it kind of freaked me out because I felt like I was doing nothing with my life (except surfing Twitter handles, as you know). Looking back on it, it was kind of unnecessary to angst about my future considering I was only eighteen. But regardless, I went on Craigslist--seriously, Craigslist--and looked for jobs and internships in the writing/editing field around New York City and Fairfield County. I applied to a few jobs with a mildly pathetic resume that had nothing on it and sent out writing samples. Finally, I found an ad seeking a "snarky writer" to write for an online newspaper called The Faster Times. Considering I am a snarky individual, I was compelled to apply. The ad asked for the applicant to be creative with their cover letter; they didn't want the run of the mill journalist. So I wrote a letter to them at 4 in the morning that is in the running for one of the most ridiculous cover letters I've ever written, and wrote up a mock story for them out of the topics they gave and I heard back from them the next day. The editor replied to me himself and told me the cover letter was "rad" and that he wanted me on board ASAP. I've been writing for them for about two years now. I've taken a little hiatus because of school, but it's been a lot of fun actually having a real job with a salary and bylines and building a portfolio. And it goes to show that creativity really pays off, because honestly I can't even explain to you how crazy the cover letter was.
What was the mock story about?
Vinny leaving the Jersey Shore house. I used the word 'douche-tastic.' It was one of my finer moments.
One of the most ridiculous cover letters? Have there been more?
Well, this summer I wrote a cover letter to a start-up company because, while I love writing for The Faster Times, I thought it would be nice to have something else on my resume. Anyway, I applied for an internship there and I wrote a letter that was semi-professional, gave them a few writing samples and then attached a picture of a koala bear that said "I have the necessary koalifications" as a caption. I believe I said it was "for reassurance in case [the employer] had any doubts."
The Legendary Cover Letter
How'd that work out?
They wanted me to come in for an interview, but by then I already snagged an internship at the UN, so I declined.
The UN as in United Nations?
The very same.
How'd you land that job?
Craigslist. People think I'm kidding, I'm really not. I had no prior connections to the United Nations. I applied, gave them a few writing samples--one of them was a press release I did for National Geographic's JFK special for The Faster Times and another was an interview I did with Captain Paul Watson from Whale Wars, which I guess impressed them. They thought I was out of college because they only glanced over my resume when they called me in for an interview...it was a little awkward when I showed up and they were like, "...How old are you?" and at the time I was still nineteen. I guess it didn't matter, though.
What'd you do there?
I was employed by a news service called MediaGlobal, so I wrote articles for them. It was so intimidating at first because even though I was an intern, I was expected to produce the exact same results as a full-time employee. I had to write two news articles per week regarding third world issues and issues affecting developing countries, as well as interview two reputable sources to secure quotes per article--an article isn't credible unless you have quotes, and it's really important to get exclusive quotes because it solidifies the news service's position in the industry. It was a lot different than The Faster Times, which is much more relaxed; this was possibly the most grown-up thing I've ever done.
It was really cool, though. I was working at the Headquarters in New York City, and being surrounded by so many influential people from 10-5 was really mindblowing. All of my co-workers were over the age of 25; I'm the youngest person they've ever hired, which is incredible. I still can't really believe it happened.
At the podium at the General Assembly. "Another intern and I snuck in to take that picture. The Security Guard was not pleased."
Walk me through a typical day.
Well, I'd get up at 7:30 to catch the 8:00 train out of Wilton or South Norwalk, and I'd get to the UN Headquarters around 10. There are morning meetings that happen daily from 10 am-1 pm, and a press briefing that occurs at noon every day. We could pick and choose what we wanted to go to because Nosh Nalavala, my boss, never gave us any assignments. We were supposed to go and find a story on our own, so going to these meetings was not only just an interesting thing to do, but also a source for a news story if anything happened that we wanted to write about. It became really challenging, hunting for a story. We didn't cover issues regarding Syria or anything because MediaGlobal is strictly nonpolitical and things like that can blur the lines. Plus, we specifically covered issues that were not popular but still deserved attention.
Did you go to any memorable conferences?
They were all awesome, but I think a few of the highlights was going to a Fashion 4 Development briefing which is a global initiative that involves Franca Sozzani, who is the editor of Vogue Italia and Evie Evangelou who is the Goodwill Ambassador for F4D. Then there was the briefings on Syria given by the Security Council--seeing the Ambassadors and the tension between the Ambassador Rice and the Russian Ambassador Churkin was kind of hilarious...they wouldn't stay in the same room with each other when the other spoke about the mandates because Russia kept vetoing America's effort. It was really passive aggressive, I loved it. I went to a party with the Secretary General once for the United Nations Correspondent's Association...white wine is his drink of choice in case anyone wanted to know. Also, I briefly saw Beyonce at the very end of my time there because she and Anderson Cooper showed up to celebrate World Humanitarian Day. I wasn't aware that she was a humanitarian, but I guess it's a side job.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his drink of choice
Did anything funny happen there?
There was a constant verbal war going on between an investigative journalist named Matthew and the UNSG's Spokesperson, an incredibly proper British man named Martin. Matthew would ask all these probing questions that Martin just didn't want to deal with. It was a huge deal, the United Nations Correspondents Association wants to kick him out and at one point he pissed off the UN so badly that they erased him from Google. Martin shuts him down a lot in a very terse, proper manner at the noon briefings. Aside from Matthew and Martin and the aggression between Rice and Churkin, I'd say the only other relatively funny thing that happened was when I was asked out by a member of the World Bank because I think he thought I was 25. Everyone thinks I'm 25 over there. Do I look 25?
Honestly you don't even look 20.
Well, at least there's that.
UNSG Ban Ki-moon and Proper Spokesperson Martin
What was your most memorable interview?
I had a really awkward interview with the Ambassador of Turkey because he didn't speak English so we spent a lot of time trying to find a translator when I wanted to use him for an article. I never ended up finishing the article, my internship ended before it got published. But he was really nice about it. I had to be very careful about the way I worded things, and they were really intense about the way I quoted things. But the interview I'm most proud of is definitely the one I did for The Faster Times with Captain Paul Watson. It was the first interview I've ever done. I'm awkwardly proud of it.
What was the most challenging thing at the UN?
My first article was on the UNDP's efforts to teach indigenous Cambodians marketing skills so that they're able to preserve their own culture while still making money. My biggest challenge by far was getting quotes for that article. As it turns out, it's pretty tough to get in touch with indigenous Cambodians.
Do you want to work for the UN ultimately?
Nah. I think I'm going to go back occasionally and work for MediaGlobal again because I built a really good relationship with my employers, but ultimately I would love to work for National Geographic. It'd be so cool to travel the world and learn new things all the time. Plus, it's a lot less stressful writing about natural environmental issues as opposed to political ones.