Trying to convince National Public Radio to hire her for an internship this summer, senior Daisy Alioto — who will be the student Baccalaureate speaker Friday evening — eschewed the old-fashioned cover letter typed on heavyweight stationary.
Instead, she turned to Storify, an online site that lets users tell narratives by compiling posts from different sources such as Twitter, Facebook, online news sites, blogs and more. (Alioto jokes in her Storify letter that the reason for this was because Grumpy Cat, the sour-faced kitty that has become an Internet sensation, ate her cover letter.)
Alioto’s Storify letter launches directly into her pitch for the internship with NPRGL. GL stands for Generation Listen, a new NPR program designed to attract younger listeners. “Hi, my name is Daisy, and I am one such ‘G’ — you’re more likely to find me catching up with NPR on Facebook than on the freeway, and advertising that I love NPR to my friends by reblogging a favorite celeb holding up an ‘I <3 NPR’ postcard,” she writes.
Like all good cover letters, Alioto goes on to list her qualifications for the job. She talks about her innovative, enterprising approach to social media — she is the founder of the popular site In the ‘Cac, a community-building website for students at the 11 NESCAC colleges, and she is the author of a Twitter novella. She also described how much she enjoyed her NPR social media internship last summer, including her chance to take advantage “of the copious free swag.”
At the end of the cover letter, Alioto jokingly adds a tweet from Lars Schmidt, NPR’s senior director of talent acquisition and innovation: “@madaisyali hired!” (The joke is that this tweet is from an earlier Twitter exchange between the two.)
The inspiration for her cover letter came from Alioto’s fatigue with writing traditional cover letters. “I’ve struggled with cover letters all year,” she said in a recent interview soon after finding out she had secured the NPR internship. “I think I’ve written a pretty exciting letter and then read it later and hate it. It’s a pretty hard genre, especially for writing jobs.”
So she decided the best way to show off her creativity and humor, and her skill with a variety of social media platforms — from Instagram to Tumblr — was to design a Storify that pulled in content from all of them.
This summer, Alioto, who grew up in Wrentham, Mass., will be based in Washington D.C., at NPR’s headquarters. Because NPR Generation Listen is so new, she will be the sole person dedicated to the program. GL was launched last year to engage the 20-to-30-year-old set with NPR’s radio programming through predominantly online communications, such as Facebook, Twitter and the like. It might, for example, create buzz around an NPR reporter on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, or point out a funny BuzzFeed article about the discrepancy between how we think NPR reporters look and how they really look.
Many people in Alioto’s age bracket don’t discover NPR through the radio or by driving — they often don’t have driving commutes or cars. Instead, they become fans through the Internet, as Alioto herself did. “I can listen to a podcast or listen to something that comes up in my news feed,” she said.
Alioto believes that social media is most effective when it’s not self-promoting or touting a brand, but rather when it is helping to solidify social groups. She said she founded In the ‘Cac two years ago to create a vibrant community where previously there had been a void. “It’s a great way to get people thinking about what they as a group have in common,” she said. “It’s a tool to improve campuses, share jokes, celebrate successful alumni, promote events or network for jobs.”
In the beginning, it was just Alioto pumping out content for the website. Now she has 10 to 12 regular writers, almost 6,400 Twitter followers and about 30,000 site visits a month. “It is interesting to see people start to see this community as a real resource,” she said.
In the future, Alioto sees herself staying in the field of journalism, becoming a political reporter or foreign correspondent. In the meantime, she will devote herself to social media, which is for her a personally satisfying way to connect to people. “I’m trying to teach myself to be a better leader,” she said, defining a leader as someone who empathizes easily with people and is open to others’ experiences and perspectives. “Social media is a way to lead people and interact with people, just online.”