GRAHAM RAPIER, Markets Reporter @ Business Insider

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GRAHAM RAPIER

Hometown: Lubbock, TX
Occupation: Markets Reporter @ Business Insider
 

One day they called me into a meeting and told me I got hired full-time as a reporter. After that meeting I told myself, “You did it. Five and a half years after moving to New York. You became a reporter.”
— Graham Rapier

Graham is a currently a Markets Reporter at Business Insider and previously worked at Inc. and CBS News. He's interned in both New York City and London and graduated from New York University with a dual degree in Journalism and Music. 

Graham first visited New York in high school with his family in Times Square. “I didn’t know the heck I wanted to do with my life. I was from Lubbock and didn’t think much of my trip here.” His life changed when he went to a summer camp at Interlochen where it dawned on him that he would be able to study music in college.

That led to him applying to New York University (NYU) and after convincing his mom to fly up with him to spontaneously audition for NYU’s music program one cold Winter’s weekend, he was accepted and left Texas forever. “I started reading the news, reading Twitter, trying to learn more about the world."

He had invasive back surgery a short while after his audition and was hospitalized for a week. "I was drugged on morphine when I got an email from NYU stating my acceptance," he says in jest. He spent a month dwelling over a decision, PowerPoint presentations and all, researched scholarships, and was on his way to NYU after his parents said "You know what? Go for it. We'll do whatever it takes to make it happen." 

“I started in Music Education and instantly knew that I didn’t want to do it. Music stopped being fun once you were graded on it. I happened to be on Twitter a lot and started noticing Journalism. I applied to transfer to the Steinhardt College of Arts & Sciences and added a second major.”

STEPH
Why did you stay in New York?

GRAHAM
Well there’s no media jobs elsewhere. The thought of driving to work genuinely scares me and I love the train. So it works out that all the journalism is here.

STEPH
You report a lot on business, especially finance and the market. How did you find your market in journalism?

GRAHAM
My first semester in Journalism I interned at a Senator’s office and found out real quick that I didn’t want to work in politics. You find out how press conferences work and you see how reporters work and I did not want to be in that environment. Knowing that, the next semester an editor from Inc. Magazine came to one of my classes and I ended up applying to one of the internships. I interviewed. Didn’t get it. In the Fall, I sent an email again and she responded back asking if I was interested. I got an internship after all. Best semester of my life. I was living in a dorm in SoHo on Broome Street and commuting to their office in the World Trade Center. It was insane. That was probably my peak.

I learned so much in that internship and then I headed to London to study abroad and intern. Studying and working in London was really cool. They have six national newspapers in the entire country, which is a lot of journalism. I studied there for a year and did an internship at CBS News. On my first day I walked in and it was the day that ISIS had released the video of the reporter getting beheaded. A lot was going on. I commuted 90 minutes out of the city to get to work every day but I got to see so much and knew I wanted to do journalism as a career.

Junior year I moved to Bushwick in Brooklyn and had scored an internship with Business Insider in the transportation department where I covered trains. I actually have an obsession with the MTA subway and public transport. That year I learned that journalism school was awesome but actually working in journalism was even better. Journalism school is pretty outdated but in real life you get to write cool stuff and get to report on modern topics. I was able to do whatever I wanted in terms of coverage and it was amazing. There was actually too much freedom, which was pretty uncommon. I reported on why the NYC subway is so slow which is really fascinating to me. (Note: You can read Graham's article here.) 

Senior year was my first time commuting into Manhattan and not living near class, so I had to get used to that. It was a little rough. I applied to a Dow Jones news internship and Dow Jones owns The Wall Street Journal. I ended up getting the internship and they told me to choose a publication to work for and I ended up choosing The American Banker. I knew it was a little weird at first when I got the internship offer because the guy I was talking to was trying to sell me New York but I was already living here and it clearly stated that on my application. I graduated from NYU and we had an opening dinner but I could already tell things were going to be weird. None of the other interns were from New York and the director started his speech saying that he’ll be going over the rules. On Day 1 I was pretty much ready to quit. The Director was keeping us from 7 am to 10 pm and told us to address him by "Mr. [Last Name]." I stuck it out, made two really great friends, one of whom I still talk to frequently. (Update: that one great friend is going to be Graham's future roommate soon!)

It wasn’t like Business Insider at all which is newer and modern; this publication was archaic and well respected. I was getting there at 7 am to open up the site after commuting an hour from Broadway Junction (in Brooklyn). I was getting on the 6:17 am train every morning to get to the World Trade Center. I kept applying to reporter jobs. I probably applied to 3 dozen reporter jobs and got none of them. Finally Spring came and I made an AngelList profile and got an email from some kid with a business news startup called Morning Brew (note: I subscribe to them!) and got on the phone with him to learn about his company. They were headquartered in an incubator in the building where I had actually auditioned for NYU’s music education program years ago. He was a guy who went to UMich and quit his job at Morgan Stanley to start this business news website. He offered me the job and offered me equity. I was pumped and the third employee after founders so I guess technically I was the first employee.

Quickly realized that this was not my vibe. The hours were terrible; the culture was bad. I was waking up every morning with anxiety and getting on the subway to deal with the team. Sometimes we’d get done with the newsletter after midnight and I’d have to wake up early and do it all over again.

STEPH
Have you read the Hustle?

GRAHAM
They had w** dreams about The Hustle. That was their role model.

I quit. I had worked there for exactly five paychecks. I needed a job so I applied for an internship at Business Insider on the Markets desk. I went to Texas and cleansed myself of Morning Brew. I knew that being a reporter was my goal now so I worked as hard as I could in my internship. It was going great; I was getting great page views, etc besides the fact that I was making $12 an hour as an intern trying to pay rent. They didn’t hire someone who I thought was going to be full-time for sure and I got scared so I started applying to jobs again. That’s really the only constant in my story. People get off to money in this city. There’s always someone making more money than you.

One day they called me into a meeting and told me I got hired full-time as a reporter. After that meeting I told myself, “You did it. Five and a half years after moving to New York. You became a reporter.”

STEPH
Congratulations! [High fives]

Looking back, what failure do you think set you up for success?

GRAHAM
Being in music ed. It was always a fluke to me. I was not good at it. But it led me to where I am today.

STEPH

Random, but why bitcoin? You cover a lot of bitcoin.

GRAHAM

I wrote one article about it and it went viral and I’ve just been assigned it ever since.

STEPH

Do you invest in it?

GRAHAM

No, it’s fake internet money and I would not do that. Do not invest in bitcoin. (Note: I invest in bitcoin…)

At some point money will be digitized but this weird speculative part of bitcoin started happening.

STEPH

Let's talk about New York. 

GRAHAM

Yes!! My favorite thing to talk about.

STEPH

What is the best part about New York for you?

GRAHAM

You can get whatever you want anytime you need it probably nearby.

STEPH

Worst part?

GRAHAM

You’re always around people but at the exact same time can be incredibly alone.

STEPH

Favorite part?

GRAHAM

I love this park. The first time I came I visited, NYU is here, and now we’re interviewing here.

STEPH

What was it like living in Brooklyn verses living on campus?

GRAHAM

Bushwick is weird. It’s a quickly developing neighborhood but New York is weird in that you get priced out of the neighborhood and it doesn’t feel like a real place. All of the apartments are new, the restaurants are new, etc.

STEPH

What was one preconceived notion you had about New York that turned out to be wrong?

GRAHAM

I’m not sure because I’ve never had to adult elsewhere so I have nothing else to compare it to.

STEPH

What was the hardest struggle you’ve had living here?

GRAHAM

Living in a dorm was a walled garden in New York. They slowly baby you into the city.

STEPH

What is the biggest struggle you have in life right now?

GRAHAM

It was money but not money so much anymore. Trying to find a balance. I’m working a lot of hours and trying to stay healthy, not die, exercise, I’m not sure if there’s an end to that but I’m trying.

STEPH

How would you say your perspective on life has changed?

GRAHAM

Lubbock is in the middle of nowhere. It’s incredibly sheltered. Thank god my parents subscribe to the paper and watch the news. Going to camp and seeing that there was more out there and coming to school, learning more, I’d say I’m more jaded but I know a lot more. Going to college, reading books, forming my own opinions on life.

STEPH

Favorite app on your phone?

GRAHAM

Twitter, but I don’t want to say that. Let's see...Urban Archives! They went to all of the museums and got the photos and put the photos on an app. You can pull the photo up for Washington Square Park and it shows it on the map and the photo from 1929 and compare it to how it looks now.

Oh wow, we are sitting in literally the exact spot of this photo. You can put them next to each other and see how it’s changed over the years.

STEPH

Favorite restaurant in the city?

GRAHAM

There’s so many! Veselka on 2nd Avenue - Ukranian food. East Village. The owner is from Ohio. His wife is from Ukraine. They met at Princeton. They got a divorce and he kept the restaurant.

STEPH

What’s a brand that you love?

GRAHAM

Uniqlo because they’re made for people who are shaped like me. I can grab something off the rack and it will fit perfectly for someone who looks like string-bean like me

STEPH

What do you spend way too much money on?

GRAHAM

FOOD

STEPH

Favorite bar?

GRAHAM

Bleecker Street Bar

Fun fact: Graham and I sat outside in the freezing cold for 60 minutes in Washington Square Park.

READ A FEW OF GRAHAM'S ARTICLES HERE:

BUSINESS INSIDER

INC. MAGAZINE.