ELHS Alumni Sapna Maheshwari

ELHS Alumni Sapna Maheshwari

ELHS alumna Sapna Maheshwari successfully earned a job at the New York Times in 2016 as a business journalist, recently bringing her work to younger audience, covering emerging media companies, such as Tik Tok. She famously won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York in 2015 for reporting on the unethical practice of on-call shifts at retailers, such as Victoria’s Secret. Her career path took her from Editor in Chief of The Viking Saga to NYT.

VS: What is it like working at The New York Times?

SM: “It’s fun, fast paced and a lot of work. It’s amazing to work for because we have a huge readership and it carries a lot of weight. There is a lot of freedom and it is a really reporter-driven publication. It can be quite daunting with the high expectations, but it is also really fun. I have become a much better writer since working at The Times. I get my story ideas through publicist reports, talking to people in the industry that I met over the years through interviews, social media, and  friends; it really comes down to communicating with people and discussing issues of the day.”

VS: Why did you decide to pursue journalism?

SM: “In high school, I really liked writing and talking to people. It seemed like journalism was an interesting career for me to look into because it combined my interests. I definitely did not have my whole future mapped out; I did not have it planned the way it went. The Viking Saga was my first reporting job andI loved it. From there, I found a summer program at NYU after my senior year in high school. I met a lot of professional journalists and aspiring young journalists as well, like myself. It helped me see that it was an area I wanted to pursue.”

VS: Have you faced any struggles in this field as a woman?

SM: “Something that has emerged since I graduated high school is online harassment. Women have it tougher online than my male colleagues. It is less from companies and people I interview, it’s more from random mean people on the internet. You do need to develop a thick skin, but I don’t have it as bad in business journalism than those in political journalism, who are writing about ‘hot button’ topics like abortion or reproductive rights. Overall, I worked for a lot of editors and organizations who value their reporters equally, woman or man. Sometimes being a woman could be an asset in reporting. There’s a unique perspective with women which allows them to be trusted by other women during investigations.”

VS: Advice for High Schoolers who are aspiring to be journalists?

SM: “Write as much as you can. Follow your interests and don’t be scared to take risks. As a high school journalist, I went to the Davis Cup (International Tennis Event) and asked famous tennis player Andy Roddick a bunch of questions at a press conference. Just even go to events at Mohegan Sun and say, ‘I’m a high school journalist and I want to write about this.’ See if you can get in on a free pass. I mean, I would do that. Reach out to a band you like or a Netflix star you like and see if they will talk to you. People are so willing to help and mentor student journalists. Take advantage of being a student journalist and talk to anyone you think is interesting. May it be a celebrity or a professional; have fun with it.”