The magazine industry is easily depicted as a fabulous daydream or a nightmare in hell. My experience was a little bit of both, but it was a memorable and insightful learning experience nonetheless. Here are the 5 things I learned from my magazine internship:
1. It pays to be present.
First to arrive, last to leave. It was an exhausting routine, and most days, it was easy to think that there was no point in keeping it up. Later on, though, I realized that being present 24/7 was one of my biggest assets as an intern. I was given more tasks (more opportunities!) than the average, and so I was able to maximize the time I spent working for the magazine. From lazy days in the office to the hectic whole day photo shoots, I was there. The more I was around, the more I worked, the more they noticed me. This also allowed me to eventually win my bosses’ trust and confidence.
2. The little things count.
So you want to be an editor. So what? When you’re an intern, that’s all you are — at least for now. Working for a magazine, I realized, was not as easy as young Carrie Bradshaw made it look. No one is going to shower you praises on your first article draft, no one is going to think of you as the “next big thing” in the magazine industry, no one is going to assign you an article on your first day. I earned my big break by doing the little things — and doing them well.
Network from the day you have your interview to the last day of your internship. Remember the names of the people you work with, the people you get introduced to, and even the people you’ve only talked to once. By working alongside these people, even as an intern, I was somehow building my name and my image. One of my bosses taught me that in order to survive and to thrive in this industry, I needed to stay remarkable and memorable — starting now.
4. Your words are the magazine’s words.
As a young writer, I was always used to telling stories and writing pieces from my personal point of view. These were my words, after all, and my name. However, it was a different case when I started writing for a magazine. Like all brands and companies, magazines too have a vision. As their writer, you need to share that vision with them. A creative, unique angle with a personal touch is always appreciated, but at the end of the day, I realized, it wasn’t up to me, it was up to my editor. And I learned to respect that.
5. Everyone gets criticism, some just handle them better than others.
My first article draft was blown off by my editor, and I felt so discouraged. I wasn’t used to straight-forward criticisms then, because most of my college professors took a different approach in letting me know their opinions. She pointed out my mistakes and inadequacies and I couldn’t take the embarrassment — I honestly thought she had something against me. Later on I realized how pathetic I was for even thinking that I was relevant I enough for her to humiliate on purpose. She was just doing her job like everyone else, and she had a boss to answer to as well. When I started paying more attention, I had learned that even my superiors, no matter how high on the corporate ladder they are, received criticisms every day. They just knew how to use them as a tool for improvement and brush off the unnecessary ones. Being an intern didn’t make me the catch basin for criticism. I was just part of a cycle, a process — an industry.