95: Inspiration on 57th Street

95: Inspiration on 57th Street

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles

Inspiration on 57th Street

The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.

~Author Unknown

I love the way sentences fit together, and the excitement I feel when I find the perfect adjective is something close to the way a kid feels on Christmas morning... plus I’m a bit of a talker. So it’s not surprising that I decided very early on to become a journalist. Being much more attracted to glossy magazine pages than the ink-smeared pages of a newspaper, I chose to study magazine journalism in the frozen tundra that is Syracuse, NY, at Syracuse University.

For my introductory magazine journalism class, our little group knew from day one that we would spend the semester completing and agonizing over the infamous twenty-page term paper on the exploration of a magazine we selected.

My professor assigned me my first choice magazine to profile: Cosmopolitan, the magazine for the “sexy single girl.” The research turned out to be fun as I poured over back issues and library books detailing the magazine’s history. I explored everything, from the type-faces to the cover lines to the advertising — to the seemingly impossible acrobatic sex positions. The formula established by Helen Gurley Brown turned out to be genius, and I dreamed of what it would be like to meet Editor-In-Chief Kate White, to momentarily turn myself into a sponge so I could soak up any advice she could give me.

I sent snail mail letters to the New York City offices and surprisingly received an e-mail response within a few days. I was lucky enough to have secured interviews with the Senior Features Editor and one of the Account Managers. I attributed my success to the electric blue paper I used to send my letters.

Spring Break couldn’t arrive fast enough as I Googled the staffers and wrote up interview questions, endlessly preparing for the in-person interviews ahead. That morning, I navigated the subway all by myself and reached my final destination without a hitch. My breath caught in my chest as I reached the top of the stairs and crossed the threshold. I had been to New York before, but never had the air felt so crisp, never had I felt so exhilarated by my favorite city. Quickly returning to earth, I briskly walked to Starbucks for some liquid courage.

Following a pep talk from my mother, I made my way to the Hearst Corporation building on the corner of 57th and 8th. I’m not too sure if anything could have prepared me for what I found once inside. The lobby was immense and pristine, complete with a cascading waterfall running next to the escalator that seemed more like a stairway to heaven.

Everyone looked like they were on their way to somewhere important, even if it was simply to go scarf down some lunch before getting back to work. They were dressed immaculately, and I stopped to wonder if The Closet filled with designer garb actually existed; I laughed to myself as I realized that surely this wasn’t the result of a journalist’s salary.

And how could I forget the view from the 38th floor? It was indescribable. I looked out the glass windows to find that the skyscrapers seemed to go on for miles, and the enormity of the city below really took hold of me.

From my interviews, I gathered that these people working in this glorious monstrosity of a building weren’t just here through the process of osmosis. Everyone possessed a creative vision, the talent and the moxie necessary to climb their way to the top of the building, so to speak.

I realized that I could find a place for my exploding excitement for the perfect sentence structure, the fabulous story idea, and the revealing interview in this competitive industry; it is a hunger and a thirst only satiated by success, and I was determined.

I felt at home, I felt a sense of purpose, I felt invigorated, and I left the building with an extra bounce in my step. If my goals hadn’t been affirmed before, they most certainly were now, and I couldn’t wait to work my little tuchus off until I reached the very top.

And as of right now, I am playing the sponge in my classes, while I generate online content for my internship, when speakers come to the university, and just about whenever else I am able to learn something from my experiences. When I graduate, I will head out into the real world with a bounce in my step, armed with knowledge, a notebook, and of course, a collection of my favorite adjectives.

~Samantha Morgenstern

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