Pace Perspectives: Molly McGinn and the Race to Alaska

Photo credit: Katrina Zoë Norbom

Picking up a side hustle, or creative sabbatical, from agency life may be having a moment, but some folks already know the best ideas don’t happen in a cubicle. So when Molly McGinn found a way to combine two creative passions into one internship—adventure storytelling and doing anything on the water—she chased it all the way to Alaska. The Senior Writer took on a month-long media internship to cover the Race to Alaska. Now that she’s back, Designer Marley Soden sat down with Molly to hear about her experience.

Tell me about the internship. What was the goal?

It was a media internship to cover the Race to Alaska—a 750-mile boat race from Port Townsend, Washington, to Ketchikan, Alaska. The goal is to get you, your crew and your boat to Ketchikan with no motor and no support. You can sail, paddle or row it. You just can’t motor it. First place is $10,000. Second place is a set of steak knives.

What was your role?

I was on a team with several wildly creative folks covering the race and cranking out visual media on the quick and daily. My role was to post [from] a fishing resort—a checkpoint for the race in Shearwater, Canada—and catch stories about the racers along the way. Every other day, we published a Clip of the Day, which was posted to the race’s YouTube and social channels.

What new skills did you pick up along the way?

How to be a one-woman shoot show (and sometimes sh*t show, quite frankly). Learned how to use a Panasonic GH5, wireless mics, cut videos on Adobe Premiere, and publish those videos in some heartachingly Wi-Fi-challenged areas. Plus, wrangle all that gear while flying around on powerboats. And how to not get seasick (I’m most proud of that).

How do you see yourself using those skills here at Pace?

I’m hoping I can be a better collaborator with video and edit teams, whether that’s on set or in the editing bay. I’ve got a better sense of the language to use, and a better understanding of their creative challenges.

What advice do you have for other creatives who want to go out of their comfort zones?

Grit > experience. Skip the online course. Find folks in your community using the tools you want to learn and volunteer to help out in some way. Watch over their shoulders. Be the gear gopher. Get hands-on experience.

Did you overcome any obstacles?

Sometimes I’d run into problems and somebody would say, “I bet there’s a Google search for that.” If it’s your problem, it’s also your job to fix it. I was fighting the Wi-Fi connection for two weeks, running around trying to find the best place to upload videos and not spend hours babysitting the thing to hit a 10 a.m. deadline. Finally, on the last day, I had questioned my way to the guy with the right answer: He gave me another network name and password, told me to stand in this one particular hallway, and hold my computer up this one particular spot on the wall. The video uploaded in 15 minutes. It previously had taken 15 hours. No exaggeration.

What’s your next adventure?

I’m thinking drones. Time to learn how to use one of those.

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