Jinae West, '10

Profile: Internship Odyssey Led to NPR and Now NatGeo

Jinae West, ‘10, certainly made her mark as an undergraduate journalism major, holding what must be close to a record seven internships.

While JMC requires every major to complete at least one internship, West set a standard in her magazine-focused major. Her internships included stints at The Washington Post, The Colbert Report, The Onion, Las Vegas Sun, The Moth, WKSU and NPR.


She stood out from the student crowd for Professor Jacqueline Marino.

“A lot of students are kind of in a bubble when they are in college. You know, it’s just a big transition,” Marino said. “Students kind of limit themselves; they tend to only see what is right in front of them. Jinae was always looking way beyond Kent, Ohio … she was always looking out at the world.”

The internship in her final semester with Kent State’s public radio station, WKSU, cued up her career path. She said she “actually never really thought about going into audio or radio until I did my internship at WKSU” and that “it just seemed like a good fit.”

The WKSU experience led to the NPR internship right after she graduated, and she stayed through two positions until earlier this year. She became the associate producer of the show she worked on during her internship, All Things Considered, which led her to become a producer of TED Radio Hour in 2017, where she interviewed people like Tarana Burke and Ashley Judd about the Me Too movement.

“They (NPR) taught you how to do everything really,” West said. “I learned how to direct the show, I was editing, producing, working with reporters in the field, I was going out in the field myself sometimes. You really learn how to work on deadline and work fast and work with a team.”

And it was one of her old team members from All Things Considered who helped her to get the job she recently started at National Geographic. She was working on a project with National Geographic “and asked if she could send my name along to the people that were hiring, so I met with them, set up a few interviews,” West said.

When West reflects on why she left NPR to go work at National Geographic, her mind goes to all of the possibilities that she may find at her new job.

“You know, I had been at NPR for eight and a half years at that point and I was curious to see what else was out there,” West said. “I feel like NPR was a great first job, and … I couldn’t have asked for a better job, but I don’t know, I was also curious to see what it’s like at a different company.”

That curiosity has served her well throughout her career.

“I hadn’t been teaching that long when I encountered her, and she was really remarkable to me at that time,” Marino said. “But because I hadn’t been teaching that long I wasn’t sure if I would see many more Jinaes, and I really have not.”

POSTED: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 12:07pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 2:54pm
Rachel Karas, ‘21