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Columbia Daily Spectator / Columbia Daily Spectator

There are about a million things on everyone’s mind during the COVID-19 pandemic, but one worry many of us share is that we are somehow falling behind by being home this summer. While not having an internship or a job the summer before your first year of college is perfectly fine—I did absolutely nothing but hang out with friends the summer before arriving at Columbia—being at home with nothing to do means that life can be a little uneventful.

Many students have found that as the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible for them to have in-person jobs and internships, remote opportunities also became harder to find. Those remaining jobs have left students feeling isolated, especially if they are not able to interact with coworkers throughout the day.

However, all hope is not lost! We have developed the Spectator Summer Fellowship Program, specifically for incoming Columbia students, to not only teach you some of the skills you will use in college and beyond but also provide a community waiting for you here at Columbia. Here’s a little information about the program, but you can find the full details at our Summer Fellowship site.

What is it?

The Spectator Summer Fellowship Program is a free online two- to four-week-long program for incoming students to Columbia’s four undergraduate schools. It will be held from July 6 to 31, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST.

What will I be doing?

On the macro level, you will learn how writers, editors, designers, engineers, and analysts at Spectator manage the production of hundreds of articles a month and over $300,000 in annual revenue. On the micro level, during the first two weeks, you will participate in interactive workshops—on print journalism, coding, revenue, data-based and visual journalism, product design, and more—led by members of Spectator’s managing board. These workshops will not only teach you how we at Spectator approach our work, but they will also delve into questions and topics that we at Spectator interact with every day, including the intersection of art and data, why profile journalism matters, developing “how might we…” questions, and how to build and exercise editorial judgment.

Afterward, a group of students will be matched with current Spectator staff to develop and work with current members on a Spectator project: either a special edition of the Columbia Daily Spectator or episodes of the Columbia Alumni Podcast. You will also be mentored by a current staff member to guide you through the program and your transition to Columbia.

Do I need prior interest or experience in journalism?

Nope! While those of you who participated in or are interested in journalism are encouraged to apply, part of the beauty of Spectator is that we do more than print journalism. If you’re interested in data collection, coding, sports, user experience design, creative writing, editing, product development, the arts, sales, and so much more, you should sign up!

Am I eligible to enroll?

Yes, if you are a rising first-year, transfer, or dual-degree student at Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of General Studies, or Barnard College. Students who started attending General Studies this summer are also eligible.

You can enroll by completing our application form by June 26 at 11:59 p.m.!

Hear it from our staff

Lila Gaffney

Still not sure whether the Spectator Summer Fellowship Program is for you? That’s OK; don’t just take my word for it. You can attend our Zoom information session on June 21 at 7 p.m. to learn more, or scroll down to hear from representatives from across Spectator sections about why working with us over the summer is worth it.

Graphics Editor Raeedah Wahid

Raeedah is a member of the Barnard class of 2022 studying computer science and human rights.

“In Graphics and in the visual journalism community, you find people who have diverse interests and are working to display them through journalism. I think that’s what’s most compelling about Spec. Even if you’re not into journalism as a standard form of writing, there is a place for anyone to come in and discover what you enjoy doing—whether that’s coding, a balance of coding and visuals, or a balance of coding, reporting, and visuals. … If you’re a creative person and if you’re into coding, if you see stories in general that are very visual and you are engaged by that alone, you would be able to relate to the vision of Graphics and our contribution to journalism.”

Product Manager Cecilia Orduña

Cecilia is a member of the School of Engineering and Applied Science class of 2021 majoring in civil engineering.

“As a SEAS student, I didn’t want to join Journalism because writing is not my thing. But my first semester, I saw a girl on my floor who was in Product Design using Adobe, which is what I used in high school, and that brought me to an open house. When it comes to software, you don’t actually need to know any of it going in—you don’t need any technical experience. What is important, however, is having a creative mindset and caring about the user, because a lot of what we do is human-centered design. Being interested in how design can be used to make a change—that’s the important thing for joining Product Design and Product.”

Deputy Editorial Page Editor Editor Karlton Gaskin

Karlton is a member of the Columbia College class of 2023 studying neuroscience on the pre-med track.

“This program could provide new students with the opportunity to really learn from and engage with the Columbia community that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Getting to engage with the community is at the forefront of what I do for Opinion; I’m always reaching out, sending emails, and working with authors. I get to talk to so many people that I wouldn’t otherwise, hear other people’s opinions, and use them to not only inform my own opinion but also shape the opinions of others.”

Arts and Entertainment Editor Abby Rooney

Abby is a member of the Columbia College class of 2022 majoring in English and concentrating in statistics.

“When I joined Spec, I had never done journalism before. I was an enthusiastic writer, but I wasn’t a journalist. If you have things that are much harder to teach, such as persistence, good listening, the ability to learn from your mistakes, persevering, chasing down a story, never giving up on where it leads, those are things that are much harder to teach than reporting. So if you have qualities like those—and that’s by no means a comprehensive list—we would love for you to bring them to the table.”

Revenue Director Sarah Peters

Sarah is a member of the Barnard class of 2022 majoring in economics.

“When looking into Spec, I didn’t have any experience working for a newspaper or media organization or doing client work at all, but I found that Revenue was a place where I could grow and develop as a person really quickly. You’ll be a good fit for us if you have a really strong desire to make an impact on this environment—not only Columbia but also Morningside Heights and New York City as a whole—and if you have a desire to help students in your community. That can be through an alumni podcast that helps students with pre-professional development or through working in Revenue with brands that really make an impact.”

Interested in working with us this summer? Click here to find out more information about the program and here to apply. And if you have any questions about the program, feel free to shoot me an email!

Staff writer Sarah Braka can be contacted at She is the head copy editor and director of the Spectator Summer Fellowship Program. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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