Luis Rendon G'11

November 12, 2018

“In journalism you’re only as good as the last thing you’ve done, so early in my career I just kept in mind that every day was an opportunity to get another clip and make my portfolio as strong as possible.”

Luis Rendon G'11
Luis Rendon G'11

When Luis Rendon first started the magazine, newspaper and online journalism program, his intention was to be a writer, but once he started boot camp and took his first graphic design course, he knew that would be his path. Rendon has a talent for the visual side of journalism and upon graduation in 2011, decided to start his career in news design. While attending Newhouse, Rendon participated in The Daily Orange, held multiple industry positions, and belonged to the Society of News Design. Since then, Rendon has worked his way up from small markets in Texas to senior designer for the New York Post where he helps create the daily features section.

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

I was working at the San Francisco Chronicle and was aching for a change. Being a newspaper designer is really challenging when it comes to work/life balance so I was looking for a position that wouldn’t have as many night or weekend shifts. The New York Post position was listed online and it really fit what I was looking for in that regard. After that, there’s really no special sauce, I did what I always do, I put together a cover letter, updated my portfolio on my website, fired off an email and then waited for a response. 

Before I was at The Post I worked at the San Francisco Chronicle as a news designer mostly on the sports desk with a little bit of entertainment for fun. It was the hardest interview process I’ve ever had and I thought I had bombed it; I’m really lucky they took a chance on me. 

I moved to San Francisco from the Victoria Advocate, a tiny family-owned newspaper in rural Texas, as the assistant presentation editor. It was definitely a big fish/small pond situation, which afforded me lots of freedom to do kind of crazy stuff and really build up my portfolio.

Before that I had a short stint at the Colorado Springs Gazette in Colorado Springs and an internship with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In journalism you’re only as good as the last thing you’ve done, so early in my career I just kept in mind that every day was an opportunity to get another clip and make my portfolio as strong as possible. If you do the work, the rest always falls in place.

What’s an average day like for you on the job? Take us through it.

My day starts at 11 a.m. in the newsroom. I meet with the section, photo and web editors and we talk about what stories we have on deck for the day. We pick out photos, I mock up potential layouts and the best part, of course, is coming up with The Post’s fun headlines. Once everything is settled I get to putting it all together while copy starts flowing in. The rest of the day is full of planning meetings, working on illustrations for conceptual covers for upcoming days and making proofs and tweaks as needed.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job? 

Being at Newhouse and getting a comprehensive journalism education is what separates me and what I do from many of my peers. I like to say I’m a visual journalist, because I remember purposely taking as many reporting courses as possible so I could know what it takes to put together a great story. Having that knowledge makes me a better designer to make each individual story shine. Additionally, editing and managing multiple stories, figuring out what they want to look like and what photos and art we’ll need is something I do daily and is a direct reflection of my time working on my capstone project. 

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

I one hundred percent would not have been able to attend Newhouse had it not been for the Graduate Newspaper Fellowship for Minorities. Beyond that, the reputation of the school was huge, it was a little overwhelming to think that I could be part of this tradition of excellent journalism, but man, I’m so glad I got over that. The faculty was also just incredible. I think I met with Professor Melissa Chessher before classes started during a preview day and I was like, “Oh man, she’s amazing. I have to come here.”

How did the Newhouse Career Development Center aid you? What internships or volunteer opportunities did you do while at Newhouse?

I remember seeing a presentation on building your resume and cover letter from the Career Development Center and that information absolutely helped me get every job I’ve had, staying with me to this day. While at Newhouse I interned at Making Music magazine, was the art director at Medley Magazine, wrote for the OutCrowd and worked at The Daily Orange—all which were super influential for my career. 

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

When you’re in school, your personal, academic and work life get wrapped up together and you don’t really consider how that’s going to look and feel once school is over, especially when it comes to being a journalist. It’s fun and silly staying up late at the office to get a story done, but once out in the real world, it can be really stressful. When you start out, you don’t get the great shifts and you really have to prove yourself. I’d say the best advice I got was from a professor at Syracuse who said to remember that newspapers and magazines are everywhere and you should really consider the best opportunities for you may not be in the big cities. You can go out and really build up your career starting at a smaller market first, even working internationally!

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

In San Francisco it was completely surreal to be working as lead sports designer for a lot of huge events. The nights the Giants won the World Series, the Warriors won the championship, and when the Super Bowl was held in San Francisco were completely electric. You feel like the captain of a ship, making sure the copy editors have what they need, working with all the editors to put together those final touches on these iconic pages that, sure enough, I saw people holding up and reading on the train the next morning. There really isn’t anything quite like sitting next to someone who is reading your pages. I’m sure it makes me sound like an egomaniac, but it’s really cool!

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend? 

Things are going to be hard and tough, but roll with it and do your best not to complain. Professor Aileen Gallagher failed just about our entire class on our first advanced reporting assignment and for a lot of us it was a shock to the system; she raised the bar and expected more from us. The students who took the challenge head on are now some of the most successful journalists from our class and still in the industry. I can’t recommend any of Gallagher’s classes enough, she’s tough, but getting praise from her felt like getting the Pulitzer Prize. I’d also say do your best to get involved with the many publications on campus. Working at The Daily Orange was like a second education at Newhouse for me—it’s a serious newspaper that will prepare you like no other for working in a real newsroom.