The senior journalism major is interning in New York City at Essence, a lifestyle magazine for African-American women, networking with professionals and learning about the publications industry firsthand.
By Brett Gubitosi ’16
Journalism major Danielle Deavens ’16 is maximizing her opportunity interning at Essence, a lifestyle, fashion and beauty magazine for African-American women based in New York City. The rising senior said she enjoys learning about the industry each day and has grown comfortable in the country’s most populated city.
Deavens’ journey to Essence began last year while studying abroad in London. She applied for the American Society of Magazine Editors Internship Program in December and was accepted into the program three months later. ASME candidates must choose from a list of magazines in which they want to intern. Deavens learned in April that she was placed at Essence, her first choice.
Deavens’ internship is also a part of the Scripps Howard Foundation’s 2015 Internship and Scholarship Program, which has helped offset her costs of living and working in New York.
“As soon as I saw my name next to Essence, tears started to well up in my eyes,” she recalled. “I ran out of the room; nearly knocked over Dr. [Naeemah] Clark when I told her. Then I frantically called my mom before returning to class. Needless to say, that day was a blur.”
Deavens works on the magazine’s editorial side, directly with the culture department, and reports to both the book editor and entertainment editor. She has further developed as a writer and a professional, tackling many new responsibilities. Deavens helped organize book signings at Essence’s Fourth of July festival (and also wrote a piece on the experience) and has had the opportunity to craft articles outside her comfort zone.
“I wrote a book review and a documentary review,” she explained. “I really enjoyed both of those because I got to combine the style of writing I use working for the style section of The Pendulum, with a little bit of opinion, which I don’t usually get to do.”
Deavens is proud to work at Essence. “It is an honor to have even the slightest bit of responsibility in an organization that tells black women what they should be reading, watching, listening to, doing with their hair and makeup,” she expressed. “It is a privilege to help Essence be a guide for how to navigate being a black woman in 2015. And honestly, it’s pretty cool to work for a publication that allows me – requires me – to capitalize my race.”
She appreciates the unique opportunity to be directly involved with a black magazine, especially during a turbulent time in race relations following the Charleston shootings. While certain conversations about race might be ignored or neutralized in some settings, Deavens said she respects that Essence encourages dialogue. She is inspired to be “surrounded by a bunch of journalists who talk about both the media coverage and the visceral, personal reactions to Charleston,” she said.
In addition to discussing issues of national importance with the publication team, Deavens has connected with many other professionals, having weekly luncheons with editors from publications like The New Yorker, Glamour and HerCampus. She is happy with her Essence internship and looks forward to learning more about managing the online component of magazines.
Deavens understands that the magazine industry is changing, which is putting more pressure on individuals. However, she sees this transition as a positive. “The landscape of magazines is changing,” she said. “There is a lot of downsizing. While that can be tough, it’s also interesting because most people do the job that two or three people used to do. That means a more diverse set of responsibilities, which is challenging and exciting.”
In addition to embracing her editorial position, Deavens is becoming accustomed to New York City’s atmosphere as well. “There is so much energy here. It sounds pretty cliche, but it’s true. There is always something going on, even at weird times, like a Sunday night,” she observed. “In the subway, on the street, in parks, it’s like people are just constantly moving and creating and doing something. I’ve gotten used to going to sleep amid sirens and honking.”