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Traveling, Writing, and Finding a Career in Digital Media

People picture travel as this really expensive thing you do once a year, maybe for a week if you’re lucky; but it’s more of an attitude, a way of living, of always looking for something new to discover, says Rachel Schnalzer ’15

Rachel Schnalzer outdoors in front of building in Germany
courtesy of Rachel Schnalzer

Schnalzer should know. The audience engagement editor at the Los Angeles Times, where she writes the Escapes travel newsletter, lives in Germany and works remotely. Her career so far has happened almost entirely in the digital realm, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.  

A double major in English and political science, Schnalzer says her education in the humanities gave her “the ability to problem solve, think outside the box, and find hidden connections.” Schnalzer’s first job out of college was at Snapchat, a multi-media instant messaging app and service. From there she moved to BuzzFeed, an internet news company with a focus on digital media. Then came the opportunity at the Los Angeles Times.  

BuzzFeed to the Los Angeles Times 

While she was primarily a researcher at BuzzFeed, Schnalzer challenged herself to expand her skills, and as a result was able to produce, direct, and edit a video story about the way surfers see the effects of climate change before anyone else. She interviewed professional big wave surfer and environmental activist Greg Long for the piece and now counts it as one of her career highlights. “All of the little opportunities that seem random in the moment usually end up being important moments of professional development,” Schnalzer says. 

Schnalzer also has a more recent favorite project: “I had the privilege of going up to the Santa Ynez Valley and interviewing Iris Rideau, who’s widely celebrated as the first Black woman to own and run a vineyard in the United States. I got to spend the day with her and tell her story to the LA Times. When sources trust you to tell their story, it’s such an honor.” 

It was a study-abroad trip to Ireland, and a trip to the Kyoto mountains with her roommate a year later, that solidified what Schnalzer expects to be a lifelong love of travel. She also applied her philosophy of openness and engaged discovery to her time in Baltimore. 

I learned as much from Baltimore as I did from Hopkins.”

—Rachel Schnalzer ’15 

“I loved to ride the JHMI Shuttle or Charm City Circulator and find new neighborhoods and restaurants. I even made a point to take internships outside of walking distance from Hopkins,” she says.

Internships and Experiences

Schnalzer took on a wide range of professional opportunities while attending Hopkins that helped her prepare for careers in the digital realm, including as an intern for Baltimore magazine; as a marketing intern for the Walters Art Museum; and as a marketing assistant for Johns Hopkins University Press, where she was able to familiarize herself with social media and digital strategy.  

Along with encouraging young professionals to say yes to new opportunities and new responsibilities, Schnalzer also stresses the importance of a professional community. “I’m lucky enough to be a part of a collective of women at different media outlets who bounce ideas off one another and learn from one another.” Schnalzer believes that “there’s room for everyone at the table” and hopes that the future includes an understanding “that we’re all here to help each other be better and do better work.”