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Bobby Allyn ’10 Publishes Piece in the ‘New York Times’

By Mike Unger

Photo: Bobby Allyn at the New York Times building, where he worked this summer as an intern.

Bobby Allyn at the New York Times building, where he worked this summer as an intern.

In the end, Bobby Allyn’s topic was staring back at him in the mirror.

The rising senior from northeastern Pennsylvania had been straining for months to come up with a unique story idea that might land his byline in the hallowed pages of the New York Times, where he spent this summer as an unpaid intern.

Working at the Old Gray Lady had been a magnificent experience for Allyn, a philosophy major, but trying to subsist in New York on only a part-time salary earned unloading food trucks in the city was challenging, to say the least. Allyn spent the summer crashing on a friend’s futon in Brooklyn.

“I thought, how can I tell my narrative in the paper in the style of a news story,” Allyn, 21, said. “Every time I’d go out to a bar or party, I’d talk to other people in my situation, unpaid interns who were struggling.”

So Allyn pitched his idea for a story about the lives of unpaid interns in the city to real estate editor William Goss, who was intrigued.

“It’s amazing how many times people come up to you and say they want to write for your section, but they don’t have an idea,” Goss said. “Bobby had a good idea. He had to jump through the usual hoops. I made him prove that there were other people out there like him—and he did.”

Allyn used CraigsList to meet several other college students who were in the same broke boat as he was. These new acquaintances became his subjects.

On Aug. 14, his story ran on the front page of the real estate section.

“It was almost surreal to see my name on the front section,” Allyn said. “I read it over 30 times before it went to print. I could almost recite the story from memory.”

While the story is the most prestigious he’s ever published, it’s far from the first. Allyn was hooked by journalism while a high school student, and has written pieces for the Vegetarian Journal, the Nation magazine, and Washington City Paper, all organizations he interned with.

When he saw an internship position advertised on the Times' Web site earlier this year, he leapt at the opportunity.

“Interns at the Times don’t do gophering or make copies,” he said. “They get assignments and write stories.”

Much of what Allyn produced appeared on the newspaper’s City Room blog online. He also contributed reporting to several stories, including one on a shooting in Harlem, which ran in the Metro section.

His stellar work on those projects, and his major story, caught the eye of those at the Times.

“Whatever Bobby decides he wants to do, he will do well in it,” Goss said. “When we asked him to do something, he didn’t ask how; he figured it out. That was fantastic. It was a great experience working with him.”