The minutes before interviewing someone are nerve-wracking. You look for something to be wrong: a pen with no ink, a hole in your dress, a sudden inability to speak. You’re convinced that your hair is weird, and has been weird for the past 21 years of your life, and no one has ever told you because you’re obviously too lame to change. Mostly, you stew over the question that plagues every college student trying to impress their way into the big leagues: “Am I, the girl who ate cereal in bed this morning, coming off as professional and intelligent?”
Now imagine the head-pounding, hands-shaking nervousness I felt when I stepped into the office of Sandra Clark, managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and graduate of Arcadia’s MBA with a Global Perspective program. My mission: to craft a story for Arcadia magazine that captured her accomplishments in 700 words. My hope: to improve my interviewing skills and learn as much as possible from my interviewee. My palms: sweaty.
To say that I, a Philly-born writer who’s always exploring new passions and career options, admire professionals like Sandra is an understatement. She has sculpted the Inquirer’s arts, entertainment and lifestyle sections into collections of stories that capture the spirit of my home city and impact the lives of Philadelphians. She is motivated, informed, and curious—all characteristics that make for a success in journalism, my chosen field.
And she calls herself an “accidental journalist,” a statement that I am all too familiar with.
My career goals were foggy at best when I started at Arcadia, but keeping an open mind has allowed me to branch out in several directions: I’ve worked in Arcadia’s Office of University Relations since my first year, and have served as a Collegiate Correspondent for USA TODAY College, a public relations intern at Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, and, starting this semester, as a social-media management intern at L&H Bridal. What I’ve always known is that I love to write, and what I’ve hoped is that this love will take me to unexpected places.
It turns out that Clark, who originally intended to pursue a medical degree, followed a similar line of thinking as an undergraduate. She acknowledges that her journalism skills—combined with her passion for trying new things—have allowed her to take on many roles at the Inquirer that were not part of her career plan. She strongly believes that the ability to discern relevant information and write well is a necessity in any field and can open many doors, regardless of the profession.
Throughout the interview, I realized that Clark’s message of using words in an effective, powerful manner and of constantly stepping outside of one’s comfort zone illustrated Arcadia’s mission to develop well-rounded students. Her dedication to global learning also reflected Arcadia’s blend of academia and adventure: She volunteered with Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau, worked for Africare in Mozambique, and traveled with her MBA cohort to Prague and Panama.
After just a short visit to the Inquirer office, it became clear that Clark and Arcadia University were a match that needed to be reignited. The school inviting her to serve as the managing editor of Because Arcadia seemed like an obvious move. As bloggers, we share her passion for leaving our comfort zones to study abroad, pursue jobs, tackle class work, take on college. Who better than her to help us communicate these unique Arcadia experiences?
Being that this is my fourth and final year working in University Relations, I’m especially excited for the chance to write and edit alongside Clark. In the past three years, my work-study position has afforded me experiences and writing opportunities that once seemed beyond my skill set, including the preparation, launch and social-media management of Because Arcadia. But I know that my writing will be pushed even further this semester. Her critical eye will be beneficial to me as I prepare for post-graduate life and take the next steps toward my still-foggy future.
At some point during my interview with Clark, I forgot about my minor worries and weird hair. My nerves always melt away when the person I’m interviewing is captivating and accomplished; speaking with someone who has achieved her goals and encourages others to be ambitious has a calming effect. While I have a lot to learn and major planning and decision-making ahead, at least for now, I have an answer to that nagging “Am I professional enough?” question.
“Yes”—without a doubt.