Mentor of the Month: Romy Varghese

RomyInstead of a traditional paired mentor-mentee program this year, we are featuring monthly Q&A’s with mentors about how they broke into journalism, what their day is like, and any advice they have for young journalists. From there, students or anyone else (“mentees”) can email the mentors with any questions or set up informational interviews.

Our first Mentor of the Month is Romy Varghese (@romyvarghese) of Bloomberg News. Ask her anything via romyvarghese@gmail.com.

Q: What is your current position/outlet? How long have you been working there?

I’m the Pennsylvania correspondent for Bloomberg News, focusing on financial and political topics. As part of a national team, I help cover breaking news and municipal bond stories. I started at Bloomberg in 2011.

Q: Did you always want to be a journalist, or was it something you fell into?

Both science research and journalism interested me as a teenager. After a summer internship in a lab, I realized that the faster pace of reporting suited me better. I started my career by interning at weeklies and writing short stories about community events. I moved to bigger internships and after college, I worked for newspapers before transitioning to financial journalism with a job at Dow Jones Newswires.

Q: What’s your response to some veteran journalists warning students that “journalism is dead” or “you’ll never make a living this way” and so on?

There will always be a need for smart, accurate reporting. The proliferation of online and social media only reinforces that. Politicians won’t stop being dishonest, wars and disasters won’t cease, and society will keep changing. Successful journalists are curious, skeptical, and eager. Write as much as possible and stay flexible. Instead of getting hung up on market forces you can’t control, focus on what you can do to be a great journalist and a compelling candidate for the jobs you want.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing about journalism is public service: We’re exposing facts and explaining complex subjects from an independent perspective that people can count on. After Hurricane Sandy landed, I was part of a team that reported on its impact on hard-hit towns in New Jersey. I followed up with stories about how the recovery was bypassing small-business owners, and how middle-class people who had to rely on insurance were being pushed out of Shore communities. I helped people understand what was going on, and that’s important for big and small stories alike.

Q: What do you enjoy outside of journalism? Any favorite places to hang out in the city when you’re not working?

I like seeing bands, particularly in small venues like Johnny Brenda’s and North Star, and checking out new restaurants and bars. I love walking through Independence Park, especially in the fall, and taking different paths in the city. Philly has many unique places, but I always try to bring my visitors to Franklin Court, the Liberty Bell and the Mutter Museum.

It looks like there are a few Bloomberg print internships still recruiting, for those of you looking for summer jobs, and listed below are some of Romy’s featured clips. 

Philadelphia Pays Retirees Bonus Amid Pension Gap

Decaying U.S. Roads Attract Funds From KKR to DoubleLine

Springsteen Girls Priced Out As Rich Buy N.J. Shore Homes

Any questions or comments about the mentorship program itself? Would you like to be featured as a Mentor of the Month too? Contact Meeri Kim, AAJA-Philly’s Mentorship Director, via meerinkim@gmail.com.

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