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Scoring a front row seat to baseball history

Medill junior rubs shoulders with legendary baseball and reality TV figures

Listen to the podcast: Medill junior Austin Siegel discusses his experience interning for the Chicago Cubs during its historic World Series run.Subscribe to NorthwesternU podcasts on iTunes or SoundCloud.

  • Interned for the Chicago Cubs during World Series run
  • Auditioned for “America’s Got Talent,” playing instruments made from garbage
  • Was inspired to pursue journalism by close relative whom he never met

EVANSTON - Austin Siegel, a junior who studies journalism and integrated marketing communications at Northwestern, is continually on the edge of fame.

He has been interning with the Chicago Cubs through the historic World series run that now has the entire Chicago area obsessed with the team’s showdown against the Cleveland Indians.

In high school, Siegel auditioned with celebrity judges Pierce Morgan, Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne for a spot on “America’s Got Talent.” He performed with a band called the Garbage-Men on a keyboard made from glass bottles filled with water.

“America’s Got Talent” didn’t air The Garbage-Men’s audition, but the band was featured on an episode of “Starting Point” on CNN. Watch the video here.

Born in Cleveland and raised in south Florida, Siegel came to Northwestern with plans to become a sports journalist. He serves as executive editor of North by Northwestern, and during his junior year, he earned a prestigious Murray Scholar Award from the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation. The foundation honors five college sports writers each year. Siegel won for his essay about former Northwestern basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong.

Since his internship with the Cubs, however, Siegel is now interested in working in the front office for a professional sports team.

“It’s one of those rare times where you can work for a company whose product is universally beloved,” Siegel said of his experience in Cubs media relations.

During his internship, he regularly rubs shoulders with some of the biggest names in baseball – attested by photos of him at post-game press conferences with coaches and players.

Siegel, of course, had his own taste of celebrity status during his audition for “America’s Got Talent.”  

“We got to perform in front of a couple of thousand people in Atlanta,” Siegel said. “It was a scary moment since we had mostly been doing street performing.”

The irony is that Siegel can’t read music or even play an instrument in the traditional sense. Rather, he and other members of the Garbage-Men were making a statement about recycling as they played instruments made from household trash.

(The Garbage-Men perform “Tequila” in Sarasota, Florida.)

The busy junior also somehow finds time to give back. He is a member of  Medill Media Teens, a group that mentors Chicago high school students who are interested in pursuing journalism.

“It's a cool way to get into Chicago and meet some inspiring kids,” Siegel said. “I just saw the two girls whom I've been working with since my freshman year go to college last spring. That was amazing.”

Siegel said his goals as he enters the second half of his college career don’t have anything to do with the future.

“Northwestern is a school where it’s easy to think two classes ahead, two years ahead,” Siegel said, emphasizing the importance of being mindful and living in the moment. “I think the only way to deal with that stress and anxiety is to remind yourself that the past is what it is; the future is what it will be; the present is the only space you can really occupy and effect change in.”

 

Read more in this Q&A with Siegel, who recently spoke with Northwestern Now about his favorite campus traditions, biggest challenges and most impactful memories at Northwestern.

What is your favorite campus tradition?

I thought it would be primal scream, but the problem is I don’t wear a watch, so I always seem to miss it. Really, I enjoy going to basketball games. It’s an intimate setting. The student section is cozy, and you can definitely make your presence known. I’ve even gotten on TV a few times.

What is your favorite memory at Northwestern so far?

It’s when Northwestern beat Notre Dame football in South Bend, Indiana in 2014. It’s embarrassing. I was a freshman, covering the game as a journalist. You’re supposed to stay neutral and be professional, but when we won, I completely lost it. There’s a video of me yelling into my phone, running onto the field. You’re not supposed to do that as a journalist, but it was an amazing game.

Who has had the biggest impact on your life?

This is a weird answer, but it’s someone I never met. My grandfather on my dad’s side passed away before I was born, but I chose to pursue journalism to try to feel closer to him. He founded a newspaper in Cleveland in the early 1990s and was really dedicated to covering marginalized groups. I feel like what I’m doing is a way to get to know him because our passions are so similar.

What has been your biggest challenge at Northwestern?

The obvious answer is winter, since I’m from Florida, but that actually hasn’t been terrible. My biggest fear coming here was that I was going to be intimidated by the many smart and talented kids. But recognizing that everyone has weaknesses and seeing how gracefully they accept theirs has helped me get to a place where I’m okay with my flaws.

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