Class of 2020: Where are they now? Elise Dean

The next generation of journalists graduated in 2020 into a challenging job market unlike any other. We spotlighted them this summer, shared advice from their role models, and are checking in with them this month to see where they are now and what they’re learning about journalism. 

Name: Elise Dean

School: American University

Current job: Video team intern, POLITICO

Best journalism moment: Interview and podcast episode with author Wendall Churchill

Where are you working right now?

Dean: I’m currently working as an intern on the video team at POLITICO for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. I script, produce, and edit enterprise and breaking news videos for the video team. I spend most of my time editing videos in Adobe Premiere and assisting the team with producing original video series. The video team has taught me so much in such a short period of time. The rest of my time is dedicated to producing podcast episodes for my podcast, She+. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job search?

Dean: To give yourself some grace. I really struggled to accept moving back in with my parents as a 24-year-old without a job. I started worrying about the setbacks to my career trajectory, savings and other things that I simply could not control. I had to realize that I’m not the only one struggling with the same problem. I’ve learned to treat myself with kindness and grace because this pandemic is already hard, so there’s no purpose in adding fuel to the fire by being hard on yourself.

What’s been your best moment in journalism since graduation?

Dean: Definitely my podcast interview/episode with Wendall Churchill, author of “Confessions of Madness: My Journey with Mental Illness.” In her book, Wendall details her 30+ year journey with Bipolar I disorder. In the episode, we discuss her experience in both public and private mental health institutions, the cost of treatment, societal definitions of mental illness in the U.S. and more. 

Please give the episode a listen to learn more about her amazing story.

What do you wish you had learned as a student that you’re learning on the job?

Dean: This is slightly embarrassing but I didn’t know a lot of the common newsroom jargon when I started at POLITICO. Hed, dek, lede, tk. I had to look up the words or ask my manager what they meant. Even though it’s a really simple and quick lesson, I still felt slightly incompetent for not knowing them, even with a master’s degree in journalism! However, a lot of the video editing skills I learned at American University have really served me well at my internship.

Have your journalism goals changed since graduation, and if so how?

Dean: I’ve learned to look at my skill set with a broader lens. Before graduation, I was really only exploring podcast/audio-editing opportunities. It was an all-or-nothing mindset. While that is still something I am pursuing, I completely ignored the fact that I know how to edit videos and actually really enjoy video editing. The internship at POLITICO has really changed that for me — I love video editing more than I did before, and it’s something I want to pursue professionally.

What’s the NEW wackiest story you’ve ever worked on?

Dean: I don’t know if this falls under wacky but one of my latest projects at POLITICO was producing a video that was essentially a highlight reel of the Trump presidency. After the year we’ve had, my mind seemed to forget everything that happened before 2020, so it was a challenge to reverse in time back to 2016. It feels like it was a decade ago. But I learned a lot of new Premiere editing tricks because of this video and my first producer credits! Check it out here.

How are you taking care of yourself and staying motivated right now?

Dean: I mentioned in my last profile that I love to read … and I wasn’t kidding. I’m about to hit my 50th book of this year! Reading has really grounded me and helped me escape from the news cycle after a day of work. Right now I’m reading Ted Jackson’s “You Ought to Do a Story About Me” which tells the story of former football player Jackie Wallace. If anything, knowing that I get to read my book after a long day motivates me to finish all of my work!

Read Dean’s original profile here.

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R F Benson
R F Benson
8 months ago

I am extremely impressed with this journalist and the approach taken in her interviews. Putting this type of production together takes a lot of different skills and she uses them very professionally. Best of luck in the future. I am sure you have a successful career ahead .