What I Learned From My Magazine Internship

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What I Learned From My Magazine Internship

This blog was written by our Binghamton University Campus Ambassador, Alexandra Abel

Over the winter break I had the privilege of completing an internship at a top women’s
magazine. It was only about five weeks, shorter than a typical internship, however this
limited time frame gave me even more motivation to try and accomplish as much as I
could. I needed to savor every second! We all know internships are the ultimate learning
experience. Even though this was my 5th one, I still learned so many new things. Below
is my list of tips I gathered from interning this winter. Hopefully some of the points can
help you too!

1. Limit and condense your emails. If an editor asks you for information, try to
present it in the best and most effective way possible. Editors and editorial
assistants are super busy and they don’t have the time to click through many
different links trying to find the information you just sent them. So instead of just
sending links with the information they asked you for, type it up into an organized
format in the body of an email and then include the source below, or print out
all the documents and highlight the key information. That way they have it all
in front of them and will only have to click if they need more, or to send the
information to fact checking.

2. Take initiative. Like I said above, being there for a short time meant taking
advantage of every opportunity. This spirit prompted me to introduce myself
to the Editor-in-Chief when I was crossing paths with her in the coffee room.
Although risky, it paid off. She was pleased to meet me and even asked me to
write up a critique of the current issue. I told one of the editorial assistants I was
working with about this (so it wouldn’t seem like I was going above her head)
and she even offered to look over the critique for me before I sent it over. That
experience taught me so much more about the magazine and how the industry
works and helped to strengthen the relationship with my supervisor.

3. Don’t overstep your boundaries. I know this may sound contradictory after the
last point but it’s equally important to keep in mind. Although sometimes the line
can get blurred between taking initiative and overstepping boundaries, it’s vital
to try and see it and feel out the situation to the best of your ability. We all make
mistakes, but each one will help make the line a little clearer. One of the editors
asked me to get information for a story she was working on. I emailed someone
that I encountered in my research because I thought he could be a good source for
her. It turned out she was interviewing him later that day. At first she seemed
pleased that I was reaching out, but the next morning called me into her office
and instructed me not to do that next time. She said it was good initiative, but she
has so many emails circulating that she didn’t need to have more. Every editor
works differently so it’s important to do bring the information to them first before
deciding how to handle it on your own.

4. Go above and beyond. When I was feeling down about making a mistake in
the example above, I decided that instead of dwelling on it I was going to do
whatever I could to impress the editor and redeem myself. I spent the day
researching a ton of new information that could help her out with her story and
compiling documents and studies that I thought might be of use to her. When
I sat down with her at the end of the day she was impressed, and felt I really
understood the focus of the article. It turned the day around for me and made
me feel so much better. If you do things without being asked it gets noticed. If
you have an ongoing task, or something you need to follow up on, don’t wait to
be asked to do it, go above and beyond and take it upon yourself to get it done.
Whether it’s forwarding an interesting article idea to an editor that would find
it interesting, or offering to go on a Starbucks run, these little things will be
appreciated and help you get even more out of your internship.

I had an incredibly positive experience at the magazine this winter break and met
so many amazing people. These are just a few tips I’ve gathered and I want to hear
yours too! Feel free to comment below with any great lessons you learned at your
internships.

xx,

Alex