by Marina Liao
This summer as an intern for IN New York and Where magazine it has made me realize what I want to do as a journalist and what I don’t want to do in the future. You have to start somewhere and I started at a listings publication that consisted of a small staff of 30 people. I worked with two main editors, who were witty and willing to teach me about the edit process rather than stick me with the coffee and photocopying duties. They got their own coffees. I learned how to use InDesign and saw the raw layout of the magazine get transformed into glossy pages. I read each page that the editors went through with their pens and saw how even little grammar mistakes and a rewording of an article could change the entire tone and feel of the magazine. Although the content was minimal, a lot of work went into the smallest details. Before my internship, I would never have guessed much work went into listings.
Some of my duties, although not the most exciting Woodward and Bernstein-eque journalism, consisted of fact-checking information such as phone numbers, names, addresses and researching new things around New York City that would appeal to our readers. I also had the chance to write short blurbs for the magazine pertaining to museums. One day I also went to a press release gathering to collect information about baby strollers. It seems silly and downright mundane, but hey, I learned a lot about the company, Bugaboo, and now I know more about strollers than the average new mom. This experience taught me how to communicate with public relations people in person and also be thorough in any tasks handed down to me. I probably took the duty more seriously than needed, but it showed my editors that I was ready for any tasks big or small. Attitude is everything.
A couple of weeks into my internship, however, I reached the realization that I cannot picture myself fact checking and researching for the rest of my journalism career. I can appreciate the nitty-gritty work, but I know my own aspirations consist of long form journalism and being out in the field, not sitting in front of a computer and cubicle all day. I want to write more and on topics that suit my personality and not settle for anything less. I would also say that my naïve thoughts about the world of magazines are no more ever since I learned how it all actually works. It is nothing like the movie The Devil Wears Prada. It’s work and as an intern, the work is not glamorous.
While I can’t say I wrote my own pieces or even shot my own film this summer, I still am thankful to have been part of IN New York and Where, no matter how small our publication is. I think at a small magazine, you develop closer relationships with your editors and receive more attention as an intern. After parting ways with my bosses, I know that if I need to contact them for job references or any reason in the future, they’ll remember my name and not just “that intern”.
My only piece of advice for future journalism students considering this type of internship is to go in with a good attitude and a willingness to work. You never know if this internship can open other doors for you or if your editors will be the ones to help you land your next dream job. After all, I will be moving on to a bigger publication in the fall and I know what I learned at this summer internship has prepared me for what will be ahead.