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Randi Shaffer talks pranks, lessons and memories of her time at CM Life


In a series of interviews, we asked our Alumni about their experiences at CM Life. Read on to see how Randi Shaffer shares her "Life Story."


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In celebration of CM Life's upcoming 100 Year Anniversary, we asked alumna Randi Shaffer to reflect on her time at CM Life and how it helped her get prepared for the job she has today.

Q: What year did you begin working at CM Life?

A: I started working at CM Life in 2008. I worked at CM Life through August 2011 and held a number of positions including reporter, senior reporter, copy editor and news editor.

Q: How long were you here?

A: I worked at CM Life through August 2011 and held a number of positions including reporter, senior reporter, copy editor and news editor.

Q: What position did you work in?

A: I held a number of positions including reporter, senior reporter, copy editor and news editor.

Q: What were some of the highlights or favorite memories while working for CM Life?

A: I’m not even sure where to begin when it comes to my favorite memories of working for CM Life, so here are a few, both personal and professional. I'll try to keep it appropriate.

  • Collaborating with photo editor Jake May to ambush EIC Brian Manzullo in his office with a SuperSoaker squirt gun from the '90s (we were nice enough to bring him a dry change of clothing).
  • Collaborating with a bunch of editors and photographers to wrap every single item in Brian Manzullo's office with aluminum foil and Easter grass.
  • Generally any office prank in which Brian Manzullo was on the receiving end.
  • Receiving a first place feature writing award from the MPA for a story I wrote about race on campus.
  • Snagging the local music beat during my last semester and attending more shows at Rubble's than I can count.
  • Donning three pairs of pants and road tripping to Traverse City to cover the freezing cold winter Special Olympics with Jake May and David Veselenak.
  • Fully embracing the start of the Twitter era with countless unnecessary Twitter accounts, including — but not limited to — parody accounts of Eric Dresden and Brad Canze.
  • And, most recently, reuniting with all my CM Life colleagues-turned-lifelong-friends at the annual Journalism Hall of Fame banquet, and the afterparty at the Bird, while being awarded the department's Young Journalist of the Year (if this one counts, since it technically comes in post-graduation.)

Q: How did your experience at CM Life influence your career?

A: My experience at CM Life impacted my career in an incredibly positive way. I learned more at CM Life than I learned through any of my classes, and the skills I obtained in reporting, editing, multimedia, etc. were able to help me get to my current job today. I truly don't think I'd be in the position I am today had it not been for my years working at CM Life.

Q: Do you still keep up with CM Life regularly?

A: I do still keep up with CM Life regularly! I have the site bookmarked on my work Mac. Emma Dale’s staff has been killing it this year, and Evan Petzold’s sports reporting has been top-notch

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I currently work as a digital news editor at the Chicago Tribune.

Q: What advice would you give to current CM Lifers?

A: If I had to give advice to CM Lifers, I'd tell them to jump into the newsroom head-first, as soon as you can — and to spend time IN the newsroom meeting your fellow Lifers, not just taking assignments via email for the bylines and never putting in that face time. Take everything you can out of CM Life, and fail hard and fail fast. CM Life gives you opportunities to mess up and learn from your mistakes to prepare for real life employment in ways your classes never can. (But also, don't skip class. At least, try really hard not to.) We used to joke during my time at the paper that "CM Life" actually stood for "Consumes My Life," but the hours I spent on the fourth floor of Moore were beneficial for me in ways that a pristine GPA could never be. CM Life can be really cliquey, but once you push past the initial discomfort, you will thank yourself for doing so.

The 100 Year Anniversary celebration will be at Soaring Eagle Casino and Conference Center on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets. They must be purchased by Nov. 13 at 4 p.m. in order to attend.

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