Tala Schlossberg ’19 tells us about her big break with the New York Times and how Quest prepared her for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Congratulations! You are off to the NYT as a Fellow. How did that happen?
For the past year, I’ve been getting emails from my mom once a week with subjects like, “some job options,” or “worth a try?” with hyperlinks to jobs and internships. One day, I got an email from her that said, “NYT Fellowship—apply now!” and I opened it half-laughing. I read the description for what they were looking for—a creative visual communicator to work with their video and graphics departments as part of the 2019 Newsroom Fellowship— and something clicked.
I put together a rhyming, animated cover letter and sent in my application. I didn’t hear back for a month, and then one day I was sitting in the cafeteria and saw that I had an email from the New York Times wanting to set up an interview at my “earliest possible convenience.”
I think I screamed and cried and choked on my grilled cheese all at once and then stood up and told someone I didn’t even know. Two days later, I had an interview, and then I received a follow-up assignment, followed by a long and painful period of waiting—the kind where everything is an omen. Then one day the director of video called me up and told me I got the job! So, I did the only thing you can do when something like that happens— lay in the snow and sing!
What sort of work will you be doing there?
I’m going to be working under the video and graphics departments, producing informative visuals and longer-form animated content. I actually just freelanced a piece with them last month about the pitfalls of 23 and Me’s DNA testing. They told me that I’m going to act as a kind of “Swiss army knife” working between the different departments to produce content. It honestly sounds like what the liberal arts degree was designed for.
Super cool. You feel as though Quest has prepared you for this fellowship?
After my interview, I got a follow-up email asking me to find two articles on the NYT website and basically pitch a creative addition to a piece, answering a series of questions regarding timeline and enhanced reader connection. As soon as I got that prompt, I had the realization that everything I’d ever done at Quest had prepared me for that assignment. And this time, I had four days to complete it instead of just one.
Everything about this whole experience has made me so grateful for both the education Quest has given me and the confidence in my individuality Quest has instilled.
Tell us about your Keystone.
For my Keystone, I’m basically producing my own animated miniseries, like a TV show that never makes it to TV. It follows characters from a family through four different episodes that act as a social critique, touching on topics from diet culture to racial profiling, and capitalism to Ikea. It’s pretty silly and a bit crude. You can watch the first episode here.
What is your Question?
“How can we better communicate science?”
What are your career plans?
To be completely honest, I don’t know if I will ever have career “plans.” I’ll be working for the NYT in New York City for a full 12 months and I’m confident that the next piece will fall into place, whatever that may be.
My ultimate goal is to live a life filled with a wide variety of creative endeavours, and as long as that’s fulfilled, I think I’ll be happy. Being on Saturday Night Live (SNL) is a dream of mine, but something feels wrong in calling that a career plan.
What would you say to someone considering attending Quest?
Anywhere can give you a degree, but it’s a lot harder to give someone a passion. Pretty much all of my friends graduating with me are walking away with something they really, truly care about. That’s something that stays with you forever. I’ve been surrounded by the most incredible, brilliant, creative people during my time here and the community has helped me become a person I’m genuinely proud of!