Why The Brightest Minds Want to Work at The Washington Post
Four years ago, those words meant money and time. Today, that runway continues to expand. With a reported $50 million investment, the 140-year-old newspaper was afforded the opportunity to upgrade their headquarters, modernize their newsrooms, and add to their workforce.
From the outside looking in, business at The Post is booming.
But what about the culture? With a bevy of fresh new talent steadily piling in, it’s fair to wonder– what’s it really like to work for The Post day in and day out?
For the second year in a row, CAPITOL STANDARD sat down with some of the brightest millennial minds in the building to talk shop and glimpse into the future.
Meet the Minds
There was Amy King. The 30-year-old Park View resident moved to Washington 4 years ago to work in graphic design for the newspaper. Today she is the Editor and Creative Director of The Lily— an experimental, visually-driven platform for millennial women.
Data Scientist Ling Jiang, is also 30. She lives in Falls Church and moved to Washington just one year ago from Philadelphia.
Simone Sebastian, 35, serves as the Deputy America Editor and lives in Bloomingdale. And the youngest of the cohort– 27-year-old Jabin Botsford— is a Staff Photographer currently assigned to cover the White House.
A Place to Launch & Grow
When it comes to career advancement, the most successful pros will tell you that where you start matters. It’s no wonder talented millennial professionals head to a city like Washington and land at The Post.
“More than any other employer I’ve worked for, The Post has challenged me to challenge myself,” says Sebastian. “I had gotten used to people underestimating my skills and abilities – first teachers, then professors, then employers. It’s been refreshing to work for people who tell me I’m capable of more than I think I am.”
“Merely being here, starts Michaels, surrounded by the most impressive journalists in the country, helps me develop my career. “Beyond that, The Post has opened up doors for me to try new things, to build on existing skills and to offer guidance, support and perspective to colleagues and leaders in the field.”
A Culture of Collaboration
“Since the moment I got here I have never been without a mentor who has taken me under her wing and led me on a path toward success and opportunity,” says Michaels. “ If you’re good at what you do, people want to learn from you as you learn from them.”
“Rather than focusing on only what the company can teach young people, The Post also focuses on what young people can teach them.”
“If you have a smart idea for a way to reach new audiences, it will be met with enthusiasm and encouragement to see where it takes you. Many people around the room are willing to tackle new projects and to learn the often new skills it can take to bring those ideas to life.”
“The Post isn’t afraid to put young talent on the front lines of the country’s most important stories,“ says Botsford. “They embrace new ideas as much as possible and encourage innovation and creativity across all departments. It’s inspiring.”
A Workplace That’s Relevant
Snapchat? Check. Tech-based innovation? Double check. The Post has invested millions in staying relevant– from their staff to their state-of-the-art newsrooms. Dubbed a “rising star in the technology boom by employees, the newspaper has even created its own analytics software.
“Experimentation is encouraged and celebrated,” says King. “The Lily, for example, is an experimental, visually-driven product that lives completely off platform. There’s a willingness to try new things and make new things, and that is critical to staying relevant.”
But being relevant these days means working with breakneck speed.
“As host of Can He Do That?– our podcast about the powers and limitations of the American presidency in the age of Trump, the hardest part of my job is keeping up with the pace of news” says Michaels. “We want to bring our listeners the most relevant and up-to-date answers to their pressing questions about the president’s actions– and figuring out exactly which one is the right one for the moment can be a challenge.”
“As a data scientist, the most challenging part of staying ahead of the curve is asking the right question,” says Jiang. Given the huge amount of data we process, what we can do and what insights we can get are the questions we need to spend time on.”
“It’s the basics that keep you ahead of the curve in the end,” says Michaels. “The Post is committed to the fundamental values of reporting and the incredible talent of the people who work here and spend every day cultivating sources, mastering their beats and telling stories no one else is telling.”
Balancing Work & Play
“You’ll battle imposter syndrome constantly, says Sebastian. “But it’s energizing to be in this environment and feel yourself getting better at your craft every day.”
“The hardest part of your job is not getting lost in it. Trump is president, we’re in the middle of a major social shift and our political system is more stressed than at any other point in my lifetime. And we’re responsible for covering all of it.”
“It’s difficult for me to have normal conversations with people about anything other than politics and current events right now.”
“Work-life balance is a struggle. But this new reality of constantly pinging news alerts has made me appreciate my free-time and hobbies more. Yoga and meditation have never been so important. Staycations are lifeblood. And I have very understanding friends and relatives who visit me and don’t take it too personally when I disappear for weeks at a time.”
“Yoga and meditation have never been so important. Staycations are lifeblood.” – Simone Sebastian
“I see work and life as one thing,” says King. “I’m usually always thinking of my work, but in the best, somewhat maddening, way. I feel lucky to be in a place, physically and mentally, where work feels like a welcome part of my life. I make time to read a book at least 20 minutes every day, go to yoga, Snap my mom, and go hiking.”
For young Botsford, he’s just happy to be on the literal front-lines of history. “I have learned that as I witness history, I need to self-document almost as much as I document. I know the stories I tell are important.
Remembering my personal experiences will be equally as important to me and my family going forward.”
“Covering arguably the most important story of our time, a work-life balance has been tough to maintain. Relationships and friendships are constantly being taxed and it has definitely taken its toll. Thankfully, I have a couple ‘ride or die friends’ that know this is just a season and keep me grounded.”
“Last year’s campaign season was one of the busiest times of my life,” says Michaels. “I remember one week with multiple debates, primary elections, and breaking news stories — I thought I might never sleep again. But I did. When you enter journalism you recognize work can come up anytime. You try to distinguish between the tasks that are critical and those that are less important. And you get better at this with age.
“When I’m not at work, I prioritize spin class, weekends with friends, a good Netflix binge, and quality time with my husband (not in that order).”
Photography by Nicholas Karlin