Joe Cusack, Graduate Student in School of Journalism
CAMD student Joe Cusack, who is pursuing a Master of Arts in Journalism, was introduced to the fast-paced, multifaceted field of Journalism through his work as a Television Producer for the City of Boston, where he films the Mayor’s events and other city meetings. While he studied a mix of business and communications classes at Boston College, he did not dabble much in Journalism until more recently. He is sure glad he did, though, because taking a risk and studying a new field has opened up a host of new interests, talents, and passions for Joe.
Working in the Mayor’s Office, where he has had the opportunity to work with both Mayor Menino and Mayor Walsh, has positively influenced Joe’s education and career in more ways than one. As someone with Autism, Joe is extremely grateful for opportunities to practice interacting with colleagues – both in the workplace and in the classroom – and improve his skills in social situations. Those are the scenarios that challenge Joe the most, especially when things get hectic and stress heightens. These moments, however, are all part of the Journalism field, so through more and more practice and experience, Joe is learning new skills and methods for turning his discomfort in these situations into ways that he can contribute to his team in a positive way.
“New social situations have never been easy for me to deal with, but it’s getting better,” Joe said in his own words. “My classes in the journalism program have forced me to get out there and talk to people.”
Joe explained that he slowly realized people aren’t quite as scary as he once thought.
“Group projects were always impossible for me to work in before, but it’s different now,” Joe said. “I’ve surprised myself with how well my groups have gotten along and even made a few friends along the way.”
In addition to offering him this valuable practice and experience in a fast-paced environment, as well as opening up the world of Journalism to Joe, his job in the Mayor’s Office also introduced him to Northeastern.
“Filming and working with a team of other videographers and editors for the City of Boston, I began to interact more and more with co-op students from Northeastern University, since there are a handful working there at any given time,” explained Joe. “Being impressed by their professionalism and skill, I started thinking about what opportunities might be available to me at Northeastern.”
Since joining the master’s program here in 2016, Joe has been able to focus on improving both his writing skills and interview techniques, strengths that are increasingly important in the competitive and constantly evolving Journalism field. He has been learning from his amazing faculty members, who work closely with all students and provide unique (and fun) opportunities, like volunteering in the Red Sox press box! When Chuck Fountain, Associate Professor, put out a call to his students to join him for this experience, Joe jumped at the chance.
“Volunteering in the press box at a Red Sox game was a great learning experience,” said Joe. “It’s a lot harder than it looks! Writing and taking notes while also keeping half your attention on the game is a challenge, but being able to master this is why I intend to keep practicing.”
Sports writing is one of Joe’s interests, but he also loves creative writing and opinion articles. Being someone who considers himself shy, he looks at every assignment for his program as a challenge, especially when it involves interviewing or stopping random people in the street or around campus. While this is intimidating for Joe, as well as many others, it is in fact, one of the reasons Joe decided to study the field of Journalism.
“This may sound strange, but one reason I joined the field of Journalism was actually to challenge myself to talk to and interact with people more, and I’m finding so far, it’s working out well,” said Joe. “The more I conduct interviews, the easier it becomes. I am challenged and seeing a lot of growth, and that is exactly what I was looking for.”
Joe is able to bring some of the skills he is learning in the classroom back to his work for the Mayor’s Office, where he continues to work three days a week. While his schedule certainly is busy, as he manages to balance assignments for class, practice writing exercises, and events for work, Joe is learning something new constantly, and as a blossoming journalist, wouldn’t want it any other way.