My alarm let out its usual discordant screech at an unusually early time on a Friday – 6:30 a.m. My sore throat struggled to utter “Alexa, stop,” and my flu-ridden body drained every reserve of energy to free itself from the grasp of my cozy linens. Despite my less-than-ideal health, a desire to travel to New York City lingered. After all, today was the last Professional Friday of the semester and my first chance to try it.
After a shower, breakfast and a healthy dose of contemplation about why anyone wakes up this early, I boarded the Long Island Rail Road with my fellow journalism fanatics.
Professional Friday is a day on which journalism students explore the media giants of New York City. It is a special day of the month for the School of Journalism’s faculty, too. All faculty members in the school office exude the same ambition and energy as their undergraduate counterparts. From my understanding, Professional Fridays resonate so deeply with students and faculty because they do what any other journalism program cannot. Not only does the School of Journalism take students to the city, the largest media hub in the world, but it also lets them see the inner workings of media organizations and meet the people behind them.
Jon Friedman, a professor of journalism and writing aficionado, guided our herd of students through the pouring rain to the first stop: Univision.
Univision is a Spanish-language network founded 50 years ago, and its New York location stands tall at 605 Third Ave. For our meeting, the team at Univision focused on the company’s mission to reach the Hispanic American population, as well as the employees’ commitment to journalism despite its perilous nature. The journalists candidly discussed documenting the Sept. 11 attacks and their inner conflict between safety and news coverage. They also discussed the difficult work-life balance many journalists face and the sacrifices that they have to make in order to keep pace with the endless pile of news. One of the women said that she had to miss several of her daughter’s plays at school due to the sheer volume of incoming stories. The team was truly sincere, and it set a difficult precedent to beat for the next company, Business Insider.
Headquartered at 150 Fifth Ave., Business Insider looks as one would expect from a brand founded in 2009. Everything is modern: the furniture, the technology, the employees and the governing ideals. Business Insider’s fresh-out-of-college employees spoke the features of the company’s millennial-centric operation, including its team-oriented workplace, interactive learning and less-centralized leadership. They emphasized the independence and the democratic work environment. They extended advice on applying to internships, and a recruiter offered business cards to students in case they ever decide to apply.
If you are at all intrigued by the people behind the media companies you know, I would highly recommend Professional Fridays. Just make sure that you can get out of bed.