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MIT student blogger Shuli J. '22

“So what’s being a blogger like?” by Shuli J. '22, MEng '23

i spill the (lukewarm) tea

Being a blogger is a bit of a weird job. Your only task is to write about your life, which seems easy as pie, but everything you write is expressly intended to be published on the internet for thousands of people to see, which can make it kiiiinda stressful. We often get questions about what blogging is like, how the job works, and how it feels to be famous. Today I’m here to answer those questions! (Spoiler alert: we’re not really that famous.)

The process of becoming a blogger starts, of course, with applying to the job. The application gets posted every year around the middle of summer. You have to answer a few short questions and write three sample blog posts. You find out if you’re accepted right before school starts (in my case, when I was packing to come to Orientation!) I’ve gone back and re-read the sample posts that I applied with a couple of times and I actually think they stand up better than my MIT application essays, but I guess that’s not saying much :P Some bloggers end up putting up their application posts as regular posts, but I just happened not to do that, so they will live out the rest of their lives only on my hard drive.

During the school year, the two main commitments of the job are writing blogs (of course) and coming to blogger check-ins. We’re expected to write one blog every two weeks and check-ins are scheduled at that same frequency. We get paid for each post we write, according to the number of hours we spent writing it — for me, that’s usually two or three hours, but it’s definitely more for people who write longer posts. The check-ins are pretty chill and always have excellent snacks. We always spend at least part of the time just catching up, answering a silly icebreaker question, and roasting someone01 Not always Petey. But, tbh, often Petey. a lil. We also all share what we’re planning to blog next. Sometimes it’s just a quick update and everyone is like “that sounds cool”, but this can also be a good time to ask for people’s thoughts on if a topic would make a good blog or how to structure a complicated post.

In between meetings, we have a pretty active Slack! The Slack has some professional-ish channels that we use to ask for thoughts when we don’t want to wait until a meeting, or to get a second set of eyes on a tricky blog draft. It also has a lot of not-so-professional channels that we use for everything else: ask for advice on which classes to take, discuss MIT’s latest policy change, make terrible memes and photoshop Jeremy’s avatar to look more like Eminem. The level of activity in the Slack definitely fluctuates, which I think is also true for the level of community among bloggers in general. Some years, it feels more like a job, and some years, it feels more like a group of friends. It depends on who’s blogging at the time and what they want to get out of it, which I think is okay; we don’t all have to find community in the same place. One thing I think is really cool about the blogger community is that it draws people together who have a different kind of shared interest than many other spaces at MIT — we have very different majors, academic interests, and hobbies, which can make for really lively discussions.

Besides actually writing the blogs, we also occasionally have the opportunity to work with Admissions on other projects, like being in student focus groups for new initiatives or helping out with CPW. I’ve enjoyed this part of the job and getting to meet more admissions officers and learn about what goes on behind the scenes! This isn’t just restricted to bloggers, though; there are other student jobs within Admissions and they have similar opportunities too.

Blogging is definitely one of the most well-known of the Admissions jobs, if maybe not the most? The people who work on the Pi Day video, and who write and draw the communications to admitted students, also have a wide reach, but they also don’t have a picture of themselves next to every piece of work they do, which has to make them at least a little bit less recognizable than we are :P In general, it’s not like being famous famous — plenty of applicants and current students have never even heard of the blogs, and I’m not signing autographs everywhere I go. But, there’s definitely a little bit of name recognition: sometimes when I introduce myself someone will go “OMG you’re the blogger!” It’s cool to hear that people read and enjoy my blogs, although also weird to suddenly realize that someone knows a lot more about me than I know about them. We also get our fair share of emails, some really sweet and some less so (sorry, if what you want is to advertise your startup to me, unfortunately I am not going to post an ad for your startup on my blog). It makes my day week month whenever I get an email from someone telling me that a blog I wrote resonated with them :)

Overall, blogging is a job like any other: sometimes you feel like you’re doing great work, sometimes you really procrastinate and feel the guilt, sometimes you’re just having a good time goofing around with your co-workers. I’ve really enjoyed being a blogger for the past five years (yikes I’m old). There were many times when I was tearing my hair out trying to make a blog less boring, or struggling to find time to write, but in the end I feel really happy: happy that I have a record of my life at MIT that I can revisit and that other people can read and relate to, and happy that I have this community to shitpost with, laugh with (and at!), and support each other.

Many of the bloggers smiling in a group photo. We are each wearing a shirt with our own name and avatar on it; the avatars are our faces drawn in a semi-photorealistic style.

Group photo at last year’s CPW Meet the Bloggers event!

  1. Not always Petey. But, tbh, often Petey. back to text