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Since Punit just wrote about his experience with The Crimson’s “turkey shoot” I figured now would be a good time to add on my own thoughts.

Without a doubt, The Crimson has been one of the most memorable experiences of my time at Harvard College. We publish a newspaper five days a week (Monday through Friday) and have been around since 1873 (a pretty long time!). Every issue is the result of the hard work, dedication, and countless hours of many Harvard undergraduates—from the dayslotter (the person who pitches stories) to the reporters, editors, advertising managers, designers, photographers, and the proofer (the person in charge of the paper for the night)—and that’s not all! We have a total of 11 boards—News, Editorial, Business, Arts, Sports, FM (our magazine), Photography, Design, Video, Blog, and Information Technology—all staffed by Harvard students.

The fall of my freshman year I “comped” the New Board (the comp is The Crimson’s training process) during which I learned how to report and write news stories (for my first story, I got to Skype with a businessman from the Philippines who won an award from Harvard Business School). I spent the next two years as a beat reporter (which meant I was in charge of a specific area of reporting) on the Faculty Team. I loved being able to cover the sciences, especially by running our biweekly Science Page “The Cutting Edge,” which let me communicate exciting discoveries and thought-provoking issues in science and health to our readership—my favorite article was a feature I wrote on the doctor-patient relationship.

The fall of my junior year, I participated in the shoot process Punit is going through now and after a lot of schmoozes (a kind of interview with an outgoing executive) I became one of the News Executives. This meant I was part of a group of undergraduates who kept the News Board running smoothly—from pitching and editing stories to mentoring writers on our teams and being in charge of the paper for a night. Although this often involved pouring over newspaper pages for typos and inaccuracies until the early hours of the morning, its an awesome feeling to see the printed paper in your House’s dining hall the next morning and know you were the last person who looked over those pages and (tried to) make sure everything was perfect.

Right now, my time on The Crimson is approaching its end—once the new guard (including Punit!) is elected, I’ll be done. (My guard is the 137th guard, which means when we were executives in 2010, it had been 137 years since The Crimson was founded). This past week, I did the opposite of Punit, sitting in my dining hall from 9-5 interviewing all the juniors “shooting” for positions on the News Board. It’s bittersweet, especially for an activity that has taken countless hours since the beginning of my freshman year, forging friendships and camaraderie—many of us who are now News Execs have been together on The Crimson since freshman year.

If you have any questions about The Crimson, feel free to ask me in the comments below! If I had to repeat my time here, I would join the Crimson over again without hesitation.

(Also, because I thought it would be fun, you might have noticed that all of my blog posts are titled with the name or lyric from a song. This title comes from the first of The Lord of the Rings movies, The Fellowship of the Ring. In high school, my friend and I once stayed up watching all three extended editions in a row (a good 12 hours!) I love the series, and try to read the books once a year.)

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Eighteen one-on-one interviews in five days, a 2000-word essay (written in the 18 hours before it was due), and a final 45-minute interview to — quoting a few friends — “test how well you handle pressure.” This describes my the components of my experience in The Crimson‘s Turkey Shoot, a process by which our daily newspaper chooses its president and top leaders for the upcoming calender year.

I’m shooting for “Director of Web Strategy,” a new position on the publication that aims to bring a greater emphasis on our web product and blogs to ultimately improve our online experience and expand online revenue. It’s exciting because even while in college, I can make an impact on a site that reaches tens of thousands of people a day and helps keep our community informed. But the road to it is no simple ordeal. To shoot, I wrote a statement of purpose in a surprisingly constraining 2000-words after talking to the outgoing president, managers, and editors across our building. The following week, “shooters” as students like me are known interview one-on-one with each editor who would like to deliberate on the  new office-holder through a process affectionately and humorously known as “schmoozing.” Finally, there is that final interview where each of your deliberators sit together, keeping you on your toes for 45 minutes; for positions like President or Managing Editor, there can be 25 or more for more deliberators. Upon writing, I’m currently finishing up my 18 schmoozes.

Students here throw themselves into everything they do, extracurricular activities being no exception. With a talented set of peers, getting the opportunity to lead organizations can thus be a rigorous process. The Crimson‘s is by far the most intense I’ve seen; almost every small and large organization makes do with simple elections or applications. In the middle of it, “the Shoot” as it’s commonly known can seem a bit absurd just to figure out who’s going to lead our publication. It probably is Actually, it definitely is a bit absurd of a process, but by taking a moment as an organization to critically think about our long-term vision, there emerges a consistently amazing set of  leaders who edit and mange almost every part of the publication from content to advertising to even printing (we are one of a few papers in the nation that owns our own presses).

And so while the process is intense, it shown me the possibilities that exist upon bringing together motivated students and giving them a few resources. After hearing and reading about everyone’s ideas and talents over the past week, those possibilities seem almost endless.

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