We’re profiling where Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship recipients are now and what advice they have to pass along to other aspiring journalists in Washington state. Know a talented student journalist who should apply? Check out all our 2018 scholarship and internship opportunities here. Applications are due March 23, 2018.
Thanh Tan, communications manager, Microsoft
What is your current job?
I’m a senior communications manager for Microsoft Public Affairs, creating content and telling stories that humanize our policy positions and our mission to empower every person on the planet to achieve more. I’m also the host and creator of a podcast from KUOW and PRX called Second Wave, which follows my journey to understand Vietnamese-American experiences more than 40 years after the Vietnam War.
Prior to these dream gigs, I worked for 12 years in journalism as a multimedia reporter, producer, host, and writer for KBCI-TV, KATU-TV, Idaho Public Television, The Texas Tribune and The Seattle Times Editorial Board. I also contributed to The New York Times and This American Life.
How did the NJC Scholarship help you reach your journalism goals?
The support from NJC gave me the encouragement and motivation I needed to know that there was a place for a daughter of first-generation immigrants to pursue an unconventional path in journalism. The NJC Scholarship exposed me to different Seattle newsrooms and professionals who would go on to guide me through an exciting – and unpredictable!– journey.
Practically speaking, NJC’s financial support over three years offset the cost of a private education that also required purchasing a lengthy list of very expensive books! Aside from my BA in Broadcast Journalism, I picked up a second degree in International Relations that helped provide me with critical and analytical skills to pursue a career that was largely focused on political journalism. Thanks to NJC for believing in my potential from the start.
What advice do you have to other students who want to succeed in journalism?
Stay curious and open to learning and presenting different storytelling approaches across different platforms. While the media is undergoing major disruption, the fundamentals of journalism remain the same– report the facts and seek out the best version of truth you can find, develop strong relationships with your editors so they can challenge you and hold you accountable, and respect your intended audience by learning to adapt large amounts of data and information into a simple story that resonates with people.
Don’t just talk. DO THE WORK, even if it sucks at first. You have to start somewhere. And remember there’s strength in numbers– try to surround yourself with collaborators who share the same values and passion for storytelling.