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Read Her Work!

Sarah Madaus

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I’ve always been pretty sure of my life. In high school, while my friends grew jaundiced and agitated at the thought of choosing a college (and a MAJOR too?!), I continued on, level-headed, because I’ve known what I wanted to do with my life since I was wearing a training bra.

If you walked into my bedroom between the years 2006 and 2015, you’d know too: “Oh, she wants to work at a magazine.” What gave that away? Was it the Seventeen and J-14 posters plastered over every inch of my room, the quirky voice of my writing, or the everything else about me?

I muddled my way through high school, not listening to teachers when they told me that research papers could not be written in a “fun” tone, and that hiding magazines in my textbooks was “not conducive to learning.” Suddenly, it was junior year: the appropriate time to start looking at colleges (I had been browsing CollegeBoard since the sixth grade).

In a very drastic and uncharacteristic change of plans, I chose to attend Temple University, a metropolis in the heart of Philadelphia, over a small, southern school. I declared a journalism major, and tacked on a minor in business (because job security).

 

Once I settled into my new home, I joined organizations like Her Campus Temple, The Tab, student government, and the yearbook. By my sophomore year, I held leadership positions in all of these organizations. On the side, I interned at Philadelphia, wrote for Elite Daily and HerCampus.com, taught fitness classes, and worked at the campus gyms. But I wanted to do more. While meeting with my favorite professor (who also happens to be the founder of Men’s Health), he introduced me to ASME. I knew I had to apply.

During an especially dull religion lecture on a gloomy March morning, I received the email. I got into the ASME program. I cried in religion class. Call it a spiritual awakening of sorts.

Fast forward a few months, and you’ll find me plopped in a very uninviting (and moldy, I think) corner of the Reader’s Digest office, alone. No, this wasn’t the glamorous internship I was expecting. But wow, did I learn a lot. My supervisors always had things for me to do; I was never bored. I learned how to write about things I was uninterested in positively and vibrantly. I learned how to accept every task with a smiling face and to figure out how to prioritize my work.

 

Most days I would go without speaking to anyone, since most of the editorial staff was located at the White Plains office. That had its pros and cons. Other days, I found myself chatting with new people and meeting industry professionals for coffee. I wrote articles about things I loved, and others about topics I hated. Some days I felt unstoppable, and other days it felt like I was a car being stopped at every single New York City red light. All of this to say: Reader’s Digest and ASME gave me the most well-rounded experience to date. This opportunity wasn’t what I was expecting, but it changed my life, and the course of my future.

 

But don’t worry, everything’s still going according to training bra-Sarah’s plan.