"I chose the UCSC program for its focus on practical skills and hands-on learning. Classwork not only sharpens your writing, but also gives you the tools to pitch stories, dig into data to find scoops, produce podcasts, and file taxes as a freelancer. In internships, new skills are put to work immediately as you get a taste of beat reporting and craft colorful stories for local and online audiences. The whole experience gave me a solid career foundation and a bundle of clips I'm proud of. I highly recommend the program to anyone heading into science communication."
—Beth Mole '12, healthcare reporter, Ars Technica
"What a joy to have become a science journalist through SciCom! The program was so much more than I could have imagined. While writing has always been second nature to me, the rapid work of actually doing a story—finding what sparked my interest, learning all about it, and interviewing those closest to it—was a formidable challenge. But this program has so much heart. My instructors never failed to encourage me when I doubted myself, cheer for me when I successfully pitched a story to the San Jose Mercury News or National Geographic, and point out my strengths when I was blind to them. With their support, I've grown to feel as if the world is ripe with stories, and I have the skills to pluck them."
—Alison F. Takemura, freelance journalist, Cambridge, MA
"When I decided to leave the lab bench and seek formal science-writing training, the Santa Cruz program stood out because of its emphasis on internships. I'd been in school for more than two decades, and I was ready to move out of the classroom and into the real world. At Santa Cruz, I spent half of my time interning for a national lab communications office, a TV show, and a newspaper. I immediately applied what I learned in the classroom. When I graduated, I already knew which kinds of workplaces were a fit for me. And I had a large portfolio of clips—key to every writer's resume—including several front-page newspaper pieces and one cover story from a magazine."
—Amber Dance '08, freelance journalist, Southern California
Winner, 2010 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, National Press Foundation
"When I arrived at UCSC's SciCom program, I knew I wanted to become a professional science writer and science journalist, but I didn't know how I could get there. The program gave me exactly what I needed, with excellent instructors and visitors from around the world, with challenging and informative courses, and with internships that helped me learn the ropes in the real world. The SciCom program is hard work, but it's also fun, gratifying and fulfilling, and I can't recommend it enough."
—Ramin Skibba '16, reporting intern, Nature
"SciCom hooked me up with a rewarding job after graduation. More importantly, it freed me from a dead-end, soul-sucking career while restoring my self-esteem and intellectual curiosity. Plus, I gained new friends, new skills and a lifetime of much-needed guidance from national-caliber journalists and editors."
—Becky Bach '14, digital media specialist, Stanford School of Medicine
"I can't recommend SciCom highly enough for anyone interested in pursuing this career. In nine short months I was introduced to all of the basic skills required to plunge into the world of professional science writing. The instructors and internship opportunities were excellent, and the mandatory newspaper internship was invaluable in improving my reporting and interviewing abilities. We also pitched the articles we wrote in class to actual publications, so my classmates and I left with a great collection of clips. The instructors, all working journalists, and the huge network of alumni were very helpful when we applied for internships and jobs."
—Sandeep Ravindran '11, freelance journalist, New York City
"I came into the program not knowing a thing about writing, and felt like I left nine months later with a collection of clips, contacts and solid ideas about how to get started in the business. The program and the alumni network have really come through! Alumni contacts got me my first internship at the American Museum of Natural History (which was amazing), and have helped me with freelancing and job-seeking ever since. I loved the friends I made, the amazing Northern California experience in beautiful Santa Cruz, and the wonderful classes, full of real-world practical tips and assignments that never felt like academic exercises, but good, useful practice."
—Clara Moskowitz '07, associate editor, space and physics, Scientific American
"I chose Santa Cruz because the program tailors each student's experience to her career goals. The director and teachers meet with students individually to discuss what kinds of internships and writing projects make the most sense for each student's ambitions. The faculty connect students with editors and adapt classes to student feedback. Yes, the program shapes the students, but the students also shape the program."
—Natalie Jacewicz '16, freelance journalist, New York City / NYU Law Furman Scholar
"SciCom immerses you in the world of real newsrooms and traditional media, while exploring emerging frontiers of communication in social media and data-driven journalism. I graduated the program with a diverse set of clips, fluency in new web technologies, and a job. I highly recommend the program to those looking for a strong, practical foundation in science communication."
—Steve Tung '12, multimedia exhibit designer, San Francisco Exploratorium
"I came into the program with zero knowledge about journalism. By the end of the year, I had the enormously satisfying sense of having learned how to actually do something. Thanks to a well-planned (if intense) curriculum, hugely talented and dedicated (if intense) teachers, and hands-on (if intense) internship experiences, I had learned a craft. I remember so clearly the rush I felt when I opened my first paycheck—a modest reimbursement for my winter-term internship with Discovery News, where I am now a contributing writer. I loved reporting and writing. And now someone was paying me to do it? I couldn't believe my luck. I still feel that way."
—Emily Sohn '00, freelance journalist, Minneapolis
"After years of grad school, I wasn't eager for more schooling. I wanted to get out and work. The Santa Cruz program allowed me to do just that, diving into real science writing at my internship from the first week onward. I got invaluable on-the-job training and got to try out several types of workplaces to see where I was most comfortable. By the end of the year, I had about 40 published clips I could use when job-hunting. I also met and worked with numerous top-flight science writers and instructors, and had opportunities to attend conferences and trainings. I got my first job through program contacts. The 'slug network' truly gave me a leg up in the field."
—Madolyn Bowman Rogers '08, biomedical reporter, AlzForum
"The practical experience I gained from the courses and the internships during my year at Santa Cruz were invaluable to starting a successful and sustainable freelance career from day one after graduation. In the years following, I've made personal connections with other slugs, both as editors and fellow freelancers, which have turned into rewarding professional relationships and friendships that help me keep my sanity and my career on track."
—Kendall Powell '02, freelance journalist, Colorado
Co-founder, SciLance freelance collective
"When I started in the Santa Cruz program, my first internship, at a local newspaper, began even before the first day of lecturers from the teachers. That captures the program's strongest point, in my mind: it's intensely practical, throwing students into writing real news stories from the start. It prepared me perfectly for my work, freelancing for a variety of magazines and websites—and since I love my work, it was definitely a life-changing experience for me."
—Mason Inman '04, freelance journalist, SF Bay Area
Interviews with recent graduates about their SciCom experiences
Nadia Drake '11, contributing writer, National Geographic
Marissa Fessenden '12, freelance journalist, Bozeman, MT
Meghan Rosen '12, staff reporter, Science News
Liz Devitt '13, freelance journalist, Santa Cruz