I asked Lauren Gonzalez, a former student from last spring, to share insights she gained from being an intern for House Beautiful. She worked in the Hearst Tower in New York City. Here are her experiences, observations and recommendations:
This summer I was an online editorial intern for House Beautiful, a decor magazine owned by Hearst. I reported to the Web editor, creating stories and flipbooks for the website, writing for the blog, and updating the Facebook and Twitter accounts.
A typical day included working in Photoshop, uploading pictures and building articles in our content management system, creating a Facebook album, writing tweets for future posting and much more. If it was online, I was working on it!
Taking Writing for Mass Communication (MMC 2100) definitely helped prepare me for my internship.
Using the resume and cover letter from class
The first thing that comes to mind is the second lab for the course when we created a resume and cover letter. Nerves definitely ran high at that point because it was the first graded lab. I used the resume and cover letter I turned in for a grade as a template for intern applications I submitted, including the House Beautiful internship that I got.
The second thing that stands out for me from Writing for Mass Communication is the importance of fact checking. This is definitely a sore subject for any student who had received a fact error! The point is to learn from the mistake, and not to make it again. We are lucky that we can make these mistakes now (in class), instead of later (on the job).
As an intern, if I misspelled a designer’s name anywhere (on the blog, on Facebook or in a tweet), I would have made myself, my boss and the magazine look bad. If I’d made that kind of fact error, I potentially could have been on the receiving end of a very angry phone call, too. And, rightfully so. The designers featured in House Beautiful are being recognized for what they’ve done well. It’s only right that I do my job correctly, too!
For every assignment, you want to scrutinize every name, date, place and time because your name (chances are, you’ll spell that one right…) is attached to the writing, and, thus, so is your reputation and credibility.
Writing on deadline
The third thing is writing for deadlines. The in-class writing assignments are challenging, but they force you out of any procrastinating tendencies and truly improve writing performances.
You have to brainstorm, write and proofread in a short amount of time. For most papers college students write, they have ample time to put it off, prepare and then actually write the assignment. However, writing for a quick turn around, similar to the labs, is what real writers do.
Working well with others
“Work hard and be nice to people” is one of my favorite sayings. As an intern, a little can go a long way. Appreciate everything — your surroundings, the people you work with and every task you have. Start by simply smiling and greeting people. Always say thank you. Write hand written notes and keep in touch with everyone you meet.
The great thing about an internship is that it is temporary. The internship is a short opportunity for you to discover what you like and don’t like.
Towards the end of your time interning, schedule time with your editor, other editors on the floor and anyone else whose job interests you and ask them about what they do. What you learn from those conversations can help you narrow your options down the next time you apply for an internship or job.
Thanks, Lauren, for sharing your experience and reinforcing the value of class activities.
As the demands on media interns and employees have changed, so have some of the assignments in Writing for Mass Communication. Working with the lab instructors for the course, we’ve added to the course blogging, writing for print vs. Web, photography, and the basics of Photoshop.