Senior Headed for the Times
Jennifer Gabrielle ’06
the time she got to Smith, April Simpson ’06 well knew
what she wanted to do professionally and had already garnered
ample experience in her chosen field.
This May, when
she graduates with a bachelor’s degree in American studies,
Simpson will leave Smith with a resume full of experience
as a journalist. A summer internship at the New York Times
and a one-year position following at the Boston Globe
in the fall will add stellar entries to her resume. She will
be returning to the Boston Globe, where she also
interned last summer.
every day a graduate from Smith, which has no formal journalism
program, lands such competitive internships, sought as well
by graduates of the country’s top journalism schools.
The secret to
Simpson’s success? “I started early,” she
says -- as in high school, when one of her teachers encouraged
her to take a newspaper class. She became intrigued during
the class by the way her hometown, Homosassa, Florida, was
subdivided in terms of class and mindset.
By the end of
high school, she was intent on studying journalism, Simpson
recalls. She entered the University of Florida and got a job
writing for the student-run Independent Florida Alligator,
an investigative periodical with “a lot of clout on
campus,” says Simpson. “Just starting out, I was
lucky to be in an environment like that. I really learned
a lot from the people I worked with.”
Building on her
experience at the Alligator, Simpson moved on in
summer 2003 to work as an intern for the St. Petersburg
Times, a large, urban newspaper, writing general assignments
and features at the publication’s bureau in her hometown.
She also combed local police records to identify story ideas,
a precursor of her future passion.
But Simpson was
looking for a more rounded educational experience, and as
a sophomore she transferred to Smith in pursuit of a liberal
arts education. Now finishing up her American studies degree,
Simpson works as a peer writing counselor at the Jacobson
Center for Writing, Teaching and Learning. She belongs to
the Black Students’ Alliance, and plays the piano in
her free time.
has remained her passion. During her first semester at Smith,
Simpson interned at the local Daily Hampshire Gazette
reporting campus news.
experiences led to a 10-week summer internship in 2004 with
the Portland Oregonian, at which she discovered her
niche on the paper’s crime team. “I made it a
point to do crime internships,” explains Simpson, “because
regardless of whatever writing I’d end up doing, recruiters
would look for that background. If you can do the crime stuff,
you can at least get your foot in the door.”
The next door
that opened for Simpson was her first internship at the Boston
Globe last summer, where she worked on the Metro desk
with many different editors, continuing to write crime and
court stories as well as news features.
her success largely to having a liberal arts background and
taking advantage of the open curriculum at Smith.
At the New
York Times, Simpson will work on the education desk,
where her main focus will be public schools. “I’ll
be able to pitch stories to other sections if time permits,”
Simpson looks forward to the intense experience of the New
York Times internship. “They’ll treat you
like a staff member, so it’s pretty intense,”
she explains. Her writing will be compared not to other interns,
but to the Times staff writers.
it may seem, this challenge will prepare her for the year-long
position at the Boston Globe, where she will cover
City Hall, the State House, Education and Metro sections for
three months each.
excited about living and working in Boston,” says Simpson.
“I like it there a lot. And there are some amazing people
I’m looking forward to learning from.”
Beyond her Boston
Globe internship, Simpson makes no projections about
her career path. For now, her near-future internships are
enough to handle. “It was always my dream to intern
at the New York Times,” she says, “[but]
I don’t think it’ll catapult me to any one place.
I’m kind of just seeing where this will take me.”