Paula Nelson is the Assistant Managing Editor of Photography at The Boston Globe.
Kayana Szymczak was the 2010 summer intern at The Boston Globe. Her photos are featured in this post.
VS: How long have you been at The Globe and where were you before that?
Nelson: “I have been at The Boston Globe for eight years (this July). Â I was hired for the position of Page One Picture Editor/Assistant Director, then promoted to Director of Photography, and then to AME/Photo.
I was at The Dallas Morning News before that as Assistant Director of Photography (having moved up from Picture Editor/Special Projects and various other Picture editing positions, prior to that staff photographer for 12 or 13 years) Â I was at the News for a total of 18 years before leaving for The Globe.”
VS: What makes an intern candidate stand out during the application review process?
Nelson: “Visual potential more than anything else. Â A strong portfolio is important, obviously, but I’m much more likely to give someone a chance that might not have a lot of experience or lack a couple of other minor skills, if they show incredible or unique vision in their work. Â Journalism skills and storytelling skills are incredibly important. Â We are also very interested in multimedia skills, especially video. Â I think education is important. Â I think background and life experience can make someone stand out because you are a much more “rounded” individual if you’ve lived your life a little. Being open to new experiences, speaking another language, having climbed a mountain … that sort of thing.”
Cynthia Marie Fagundes, on right, and RoseMarie Fagundes attend the funeral of Corporal Paul Fagundes, who drowned in Guatanamo Bay on July 4th as he tried to help two fellow Marines who had become caught in an undertow. Cynthia was pregnant with their second child. July 16, 2010. (Kayana Szymczak/2010 Boston Globe intern)
VS: What mistakes do you see students making in the application process?
Nelson: “Spelling the name of the Department Head wrong or using the wrong title. Â I know that may seem trivial, but if you can’t bother to get that right in an application, what does it say about your professionalism and attention to detail?
I would say a fluffy portfolio as well…presenting something that isn’t tightly edited or represents your absolute best work. Â For instance, don’t include a really “run of the mill” sports photo, just to include a sports photo.”
VS: What are the expectations of your interns? Â How have those expectations changed over the years?
Nelson: “An intern at The Globe is expected to perform just as a staff photographer performs, taking on daily deadline assignments. Â They are give a few days of training, given equipment, computer and software training, spend one day with a staff photographer and then they are assigned for their shift.Â Trial by fire.
It has been the expectation since I came to The Globe…I brought those expectations from Dallas where I think you will still find it to be the case there.”
Fionn watches as Christiana swings on the tire swing during a break in between sessions at Camp Glen Brook in Marlborough, New Hampshire. June, 29, 2010. (Kayana Szymczak/2010 Boston Globe intern) (note: the parents of the kids at Camp Glen Brook gave permission to publish photos, but without the last names)
VS: How is your internship structured?
Nelson: “Twelve weeks on a regular 7.5 hour (Union) shift per day.”
VS: How have you been able to keep your internship from being cut?
Nelson: “There have been some recent cuts, but thankfully the Photography Department was not approached to cut our intern. I don’t think a justifiable case could be made to cut the photo intern. Â There are departments that have multiple interns and some of those positions have been cut in recent years.”
VS: What value do you place on your interns and the opportunity to offer internships?
Nelson: “Our interns are incredibly important for a number of reasons. One very practical reason is that staffers take a lot of summer vacation and we become quite short-staffed for the season. The intern works hard and contributes as a staffer would contribute.
But I also think that the experience that we can offer a student or new graduate over the course of an internship, really helps to shape them professionally…providing unique opportunities and allowing them to have real life career experiences. Â We have typically sent them out of town, out of the country and certainly around all of New England. Â They learn to work with a colleague (writer), to perform on deadline, to problem solve and to be creative in their storytelling.”
Gilson DePina plays soccer at Revere beach in Boston, MA. June 21, 2010. (Kayana Szymczak/ 2010 Boston Globe intern)
VS: Talk about how you were influenced/shaped as a young professional or student.
Nelson: “One of my internships was at The Dallas Morning News and while the internship itself wasn’t the best…I called it my summer of inanimate objects (obviously before the current standard of giving the intern assignments that equaled that given a staffer), I did learn a great deal through the camaraderie of the staff and the talent that I was surrounded by. And I must have done something right because I returned as a full-time freelancer and then after about a year, was hired as a staff photographer. And it led me to a very challenging, but rewarding 18-year career in Dallas.”
VS: What have you learned from interns?
Nelson: “I’ve learned that most of them rise to the challenge, so you shouldn’t be shy in giving them challenging opportunities. Â If they succeed, they learn a great deal. Â If they fail, they learn a great deal. Â (And if they fail…it’s not the end of the world – but don’t spread that around….)”
VS: What advice do you have for interns?
Nelson: “Be vocal. Â Soak up all the knowledge you can from a variety of sources:Â photographers, editors, writers, managers. Â Ask questions, look for guidance. Enjoy your assignments. Â You have an incredibly unique opportunity to meet so many different kinds of people, to experience so many different situations, to be allowed into places and lives where no one else is allowed to go. Â Take advantage of it. Â And have fun!”
VS: In the past, candidates have been passed over, or selected interns have been let go from their positions, because of conduct during or prior to the internship (i.e. legal, ethical or professional). What expectations for professional conduct do you place on candidates and interns that you select?
Nelson: “Interns should function professionally at all times and adhere to The Boston Globe’s ethics policy. Â Common sense should be their guide. Unethical behavior will not be tolerated. Â We take our responsibilities to our readers very seriously.”
VS: What is the deadline for your internship and how long does it last?
Nelson: “January 1, 2011 for the summer of 2011. Â It is a 12 week term.”
Go here for the internship information.
Basualdo Joseph (18) (in front), Eljah Smith (16), Michael Sequeira (18), and Tatyanah Belin (16) hang out on the bleachers at Ross Playground in Hyde Park, Boston, MA. August 8, 2010. (Kayana Szymczak/ 2010 Boston Globe intern)