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CAMD Alumna Jamie Ducharme: From Co-op to Editor

Jamie Ducharme, CAMD alumna

CAMD alumna Jamie Ducharme, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 2016, currently oversees all of the health and wellness coverage for Boston Magazine as the full-time health editor. Both busy and challenging, her job as editor grew from connections and relationships that started as a co-op student at Northeastern. While earning her undergraduate degree, she held one of her co-ops as a Hub Health co-op for Boston Magazine, which connected her with the team and set up the foundations for her current position. Now, in addition to her day job, Jamie has also joined the Northeastern honors mentor program, where she will soon begin advising a current student on building a career beyond graduation. We were happy to grab a chance to learn more about her passion for diverse health-related topics and the excitement of working for a magazine post-graduation.

Learn more about her role as editor and how the co-op program led her to a career in journalism below.

What have you been up to since graduating in 2016?

I’ve been working at Boston Magazine since I graduated—actually, since before I graduated! I started here as the health editor in January 2016, so I spent my last semester at Northeastern working during the day and taking classes at night. It was crazy, but so worth it. And now working a regular full-time job feels easy in comparison!

What type of work does your current job as Health Editor involve? What does a typical day look like?

I oversee all of our health and wellness coverage online and in print. On an average day I’d start by writing or editing a few stories for the website. Our web stories are short and super timely, so I write or edit as many as five a day. I’m also responsible for updating the health section’s social media accounts throughout the day and building two newsletters a week.

In the afternoon, I tend to shift my focus to print stories. These are often longer and more narrative than web stories and they have a much longer lead-time, so it’s a nice balance. I write at least one story for the magazine each month, and lately I’ve been working on some longer features and packages, too.

On top of all that, I manage a health section intern and help plan events like fitness classes and expert panels. It’s a lot to juggle, but that’s why I like it.

You write for the health section – what drew you to that beat?

Truthfully, I fell into the health beat kind of by accident. I was an athlete in high school and always had a passive interest in health and nutrition, so by chance, I took a job as the health section intern while at Northeastern. I ended up loving it, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

A few years in, my favorite thing about the health beat is the diversity of topics. I could go from unpacking a highly complicated scientific study to breaking news about the local healthcare scene to putting together a roundup of the best workout classes in Boston, all in the span of a few hours. It definitely keeps things interesting, and allows me to write in lots of different styles.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I get to talk to smart people and learn about interesting things, all day every day. And getting to try out fun boutique fitness classes around the city definitely isn’t bad, either.

Any highlight or piece that you’re particularly proud of?

I wrote the cover story for our April issue this year, which was about why Boston is the best running city in America. I was behind every part of the package, from pitching the different stories to writing them to styling the cover shot. It was so rewarding to see it come out and hit newsstands all over the city.

Boston Magazine, April 2017

You graduated in 2016 with a BA in Journalism. How did your classes at Northeastern prepare you for your work post-graduation?

I had never done real journalism before I came to Northeastern. I worked on my high school paper, but nobody really taught us how to interview and write like reporters. I learned the basics in my classes at Northeastern, working with professors who are respected journalists themselves, from freshman year on. I feel really lucky that I went to a school that placed such an emphasis on hands-on learning, because it prepared me so well for my first internship—which eventually became my first job.

As a Northeastern student, you were a staff writer for the Huntington News and Editor-in-Chief of Woof Magazine. How did these campus writing positions prepare you for your work post-graduation?

They were such valuable practice for what it’s like to work in a newsroom and put together a publication. Obviously the scale is different, but working at Woof was, in some ways, a lot like working at a magazine post-graduation. In both cases, it’s a team of writers, editors, and designers working together to meet deadlines (which sometimes means staying up way too late the night before it’s due…) and put together a product that’s as good as it can be.

I owe the editors at the Huntington News a lot. As I mentioned before, I had zero real journalism experience when I came to Northeastern. I remember I was so excited to pick up my first Huntington News story assignment, and then I did a terrible job. I’m not kidding: The piece was totally un-printable. I had no idea what I was doing, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. My editors were so kind and patient. They worked with me to fix that first story, and to make the next one better. Honestly, they probably taught me as much in my first semester as my classes did.

How did your co-op experience help you transition to full-time?

I’m not exaggerating at all when I say I would not be where I am without that co-op. I was able to gain such valuable experience—I think I wrote roughly 200 online stories during my co-op—and start building relationships with editors I still work with today. It was only because I kept those relationships alive after my co-op ended that I have this job. I stayed on as a freelancer, then a part-time assistant, before starting here full-time. Co-op was really the catalyst for all that.

What do you love most about journalism?

That’s a hard question, but I think I’d have to say the different ways that it can touch a reader. Journalism can have a big impact on readers’ lives, whether it’s by keeping people informed, helping them make the most of the city where they live, or just keeping them entertained.