Roz Hunter was a Nation intern in 2010 and now serves as deputy director of The Nation Institute. In this interview, Winter/Spring 2016 intern Jaime Longoria asks Roz about her career and time at The Nation.
1. What was your trajectory from being an intern at The Nation to becoming the deputy director of The Nation Institute?
After I finished the internship program, The Nation hired me to do a lot of different tasks: research, writing, and publicity. I ended up serving as the magazine's acting publicity director for about 6 months then worked on other freelance communications work, notably for the Committee of Interns and Residents, a physicians union. In 2013, I accepted a full-time position with The Nation Institute as a digital editor and in 2015 was promoted to deputy director. Along with working on our many programs, I now have the privilege of managing much of the Institute's day-to-day operations.
2. How did your goals change from before you were an intern to after your time at The Nation? Do you think the internship played a large part in this?
Absolutely. I became an intern while pursuing a Master's degree in history and was considering getting a phD. The internship was my first foray into publishing and media, and I found it to be really connected to my work in history; many of my favorite historians have also worked as journalists or used news media as primary sources for their work. And to intern at The Nation, with its own storied history — a magazine founded in 1865 by abolitionists right when abolition had been realized — wow! I can't say I wasn't captivated by playing a small role at a publication with that kind of legacy.
3. What are your favorite publications? Any favorite writers or areas of subject that you follow (fiction or non-fiction)?
In terms of current work, I read a fairly wide variety of publications and often rely on article recommendations from my much smarter friends and colleagues. My deepest love is for the work of radical historians, including Priscilla Murolo, a mentor of mine, and the late greats Manning Marable and Howard Zinn. I'm also still completely mesmerized by the speeches of Malcolm X as well as those of a 19th-century activist I studied in grad school, Ernestine Rose. When I need something cathartic, I turn to George Saunders, whose deeply flawed characters reveal glimmers of beauty and humanity, even as capitalism beats them down, again and again.
4. What advice would you give to recent intern alumni, current interns, or future interns?
I'd recommend giving all opportunities that come your way serious consideration, even if they aren't the ones you were hoping for. Sometimes being too hyper-focused on a single goal can be really stifling.
5. What are five things you could never live without?
Rivers, art, comedy, pizza, and feminism.
6. What has been the most challenging part of your career?
The non-profit world is not always easy — we make the most of our resources, but are constantly stretched thin. (Help us!) So that is a daily struggle: to keep getting better at using the little we have to create big impact. I'll also say I'm immensely humbled to work with reporters and editors who uncover some of the more disturbing injustices in society. But sometimes reckoning with these truths on a daily basis takes some real emotional work, and it's not always easy.
7. What is one thing you wish you had known as an exiting intern?
I think there's a sense in journalism that you have to make a name for yourself to get somewhere — that was always a concept that made me personally uncomfortable. Of course it's good to challenge yourself to try things that don't feel comfortable, but I've found that working behind the scenes is much more suited to my strengths. As an exiting intern, I wish I'd known not to worry about all of that.