student hanging art work in a gallery

Dream Big: A Sarah Maslin Nir Talk

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

Sarah Maslin Nir is a staff reporter for the New York Times, and if you haven’t heard of her, she’s done some pretty cool work. For example, she wrote a series of articles that investigated the working conditions of the nail industry – as in manicures and pedicures. Doesn’t sound like much, but her findings on the dangers of nail salon working conditions became a massive social media trend that led to emergency protection mandates for the industry by New York’s governor.

It’s every journalist’s dream to have their work such an impact. Recently Nir gave a talk about her success, and she had some interesting advice for not just aspiring journalists, but for everyone.

When she started out as a reporter, Nir didn’t work for the NYT (obviously). But she wanted to, so she sent in pitches to editors and got an article and there, which turned into this column and that column. And that turned into a full-time reporting position, her dream job. Lesson one: think big.

At the talk, an audience member asked Nir how she knew she was ready to tackle a project as big as the investigation into the nail salon industry. She had something really powerful to say in response: “I just did it. The way you will never get ‘there’ is by thinking you’re not there yet.” Lesson two: you are often your biggest obstacle.

Maybe you can’t get any job that you set your sights on, but if you’re just a little under-qualified for a position you really want, why not go for it? What’s the worst that can happen? So you don’t get it this time. There will be a next time. And maybe with next time will come your big break.

You’ll never know if you assume you can’t. You’ll only know if you try.

Sources: The Muse