This story originally appeared in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Harker Magazine.
By Vikki Bowes-Mok
Emily Chow ’08 enjoys digging into important problems with smart people – and that’s exactly what she does every day as site product director for washingtonpost.com.
“Part of what drew me to journalism and keeps me at The Washington Post is our mission to inform the world and build a better democracy,” said Chow from her office in Washington, D.C. “We have incredible reporters writing groundbreaking stories, and I enjoy figuring out how to get stories into the world in an easy and readable form.”
Chow’s role sits at the intersection of journalism, design and technology, and she appreciates the impact that good stories have on a healthy democracy. As the site product director, she works with product managers, engineers and designers to drive the strategy and direction of offerings to Washington Post readers and subscribers.
Her interest in the field was nurtured at Harker, where she was a yearbook staff member during her four years at theupper school. Chow also spent a lot of time in the dance room, usually auditioning for annual showcases.
“Emily Chow is a force of nature – inquisitive, intelligent and thorough, with a great eye for composition and detail. Journalism appeared to come very naturally to her in her time at Harker,” remembered Brian Larsen, the performing arts department’s production manager. “It was no surprise to me she pursued it as a career, and it makes sense that her skills and passion landed her with The Washington Post.”
After her Harker college counselor put Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism on her radar, Chow never looked back.
While at Northwestern, she worked with many student publications, including North by Northwestern, nuAsian and Northwestern Magazine, where she covered events, took photos and designed layouts. During college, she even interned at Harker, writing stories, taking photos and editing audio and video for the website.
“When she worked for our department, she was a star. She captured some great images and we loved having her help. The perspective of an alumna always improves what we do,” said Pam Dickinson, Office of Communication director. “We have followed her path in journalism and are so incredibly proud of her.”
In addition to student publications and working for Harker, she also worked as an intern at Sunset magazine, the Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post.
“I got my first taste of what it’s like to be an editor from Harker’s yearbook program,” Chow told Harker Quarterly magazine in the spring 2012 story “Award-Winning Journalism Program Builds Valuable Skills.” “It was the first time I had to make tough decisions, step into some big shoes and really learn how to edit critically and how to manage a group. I’ve held several editor positions [since Harker] and each experience has built on top of the Harker experience.”
Her internship at The Washington Post included working with the graphics team and the news design team.
“I learned a little bit about everything I wanted to do,” said Chow. “So when I graduated a quarter early and the graphics team offered me a job, I was excited to get started.”
Chow had worked at The Washington Post for more than five years when she decided to try something new and took a position with Mapbox, and online platform for custom maps. After more than a year at Mapbox, she realized that she missed working in news and happily returned to The Post.
“I enjoy working near the original startup of all startups – the newsroom – where deadlines are daily, unexpected fires can crop up at any time, and grit, scrappiness, determination and resilience are qualities that drive success,” said Chow.
Vikki Bowes-Mok is also the executive director of the community nonprofit Compass Collective.