Mouza Al Derham, Junior NU-Q Journalism Student
Some of the world’s most prestigious media organizations, from news and fashion to public relations and filmmaking, will be training students from Northwestern University in Qatar this spring.
Fourteen NU-Q students, seven of whom are Qatari nationals, have been selected for professional residencies at organizations that include The Financial Times in New York City, The Huffington Post, also in New York City, and Vogue and Cosmopolitan magazines in London.
They will begin their 10-week residencies on February 20.
Jawaher Al-Naimi, a junior who is heading to Hearst Magazines in London for an internship at Cosmopolitan magazine and Company magazine, hopes to eventually start her own national women’s magazine that goes beyond fashion and gossip to deal with societal issues overlooked in local newspapers.
“The magazine industry is better suited to in-depth feature stories and creative writing- areas where I think Qatar still has space to grow,” says Al-Naimi.
On why she is looking forward to her residency at Hearst Magazines, Al-Naimi says, “This is an opportunity to hone my feature-writing skills and improve my understanding of what it takes to run a successful publication.”
Her classmate Mouza Al Derham, who has an internship in public relations at Bloomsbury Publishing in London, also spoke of applying the skills she cultivates abroad to the industry in her native Qatar. “I’m intrigued by the idea of opening a publishing house here- I know that there are talented writers in Qatar and the region and I want their stories to be heard,” says Al Derham.
“This residency is my chance to test the skills I’ve gained through classes at NU-Q in the real world,” said Al Derham.
The experience that undergraduates gain during their residency programs is considered so critical that Northwestern University in Qatar has made it a mandatory component of the school’s Journalism degree.
“Northwestern University in Qatar believes that leadership comes from the ability to put big-picture ideas into practice, and these residencies give our students a chance to do just that. We are confident that the host organizations will be impressed with our students' ability to engage high-level thinking about media issues, as well as to apply and develop their practical skills,” says NU-Q Dean and CEO Everette Dennis.
Journalism senior Rana Khaled had the opportunity to put her NU-Q media skills and education into action during her residency at Al Jazeera in Washington, D.C., last spring, where she helped the network launch its revolutionary social media news program “The Stream.” Khaled says: “My professional residency has been the highlight of my undergraduate experience so far- it gave me real insight into the workings of an international news channel. I worked directly with the program directors and producers and built relationships there that have become part of a valuable professional network for my future career.”
After returning from her residency, Khaled went on to produce a documentary on Arab hip hop with her classmates that received regional and international attention. Khaled currently has two more documentaries in the pipeline and is preparing to graduate from NU-Q’s Journalism program in May.
Through the professional residency program, Northwestern University in Qatar adds hands-on experience to academic learning to prepare its students for leadership in the 21st century media industry.
"On our campus in the United States,the residency program often has led directly to students' first jobs with organizations that know they're just not taking a chance on a new graduate because these residency students already have worked in professional environments and have proved themselves there," said Richard J. Roth, the senior associate dean for Northwestern's journalism program.
Northwestern University in Qatar is able to offer its students residencies at such prestigious media organizations because of the high-level contacts that NU-Q faculty and staff have in the international media. Jay McGill, a senior vice president of Hearst Magazines International, visited the Qatar-based media school last October, and that led directly to the residency at Cosmopolitan.
The university has also secured a professional residency for a student at Blue Legacy Films- working on an environmental documentary with actor Robert Redford. Blue Legacy is a project of Alexandra Cousteau. Students also are going to residencies in Washington, D.C., at Qatar Foundation International and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Other students are going to residencies at public relations firms Grayling in London and Brown Lloyd James in New York City.