Ed held his annual “How to be a Kick-A$$ Intern Panel” last week, and, well, it kicked a$$! More than 30 summer interns convened at the Manhattan Theater Club last Wednesday night to pick the brains of the star-studded panel of editors that included Andy Abrahams, editorial manager at People, Marisa Starr Bardach, editor at Prevention.com, Jayme S. Ganey, assistant editor at Essence, Sunny Sea Gold, articles editor, health, at Glamour, and Seth Porges, associate editor at Popular Mechanics.
The interns and editors chatted Q&A-style for more than two hours! Ed’s VP Cheryl Brody Franklin started things off by asking the editors to talk about their experience with interns: the good, the bad and the ugly.
After sharing some of their horror stories, the panel came up with some pretty universal “don’ts” for all interns to avoid. “If you mess up, fess up,” said Popular Mechanic’s Porges. “Small mistakes like misplacing a corporate credit card won’t seem so small when no one takes the blame,” he said.
Essence’s Ganey also advised the interns to “take advantage of their opportunity!” And don’t be guilty of her biggest pet peeve: taking it for granted. Taking an internship for granted can also lead to blurring some boundaries, and Sunny Sea Gold reminded the interns to “be conservative with email,” even though many magazines have a very casual work environment. In other words, avoid the “WTFs” and “OMGs” when addressing your bosses!
The editors also listed some of the qualities that a shining star intern should possess: self-sufficiency, eagerness, a positive attitude, and the ability to be a team player. “Play nice in the sandbox!” added Tanner Stransky, the Ed On Campus Director who organized the panel. “No one likes a catty intern.”
The interns then had the chance to ask all of their burning questions: everything from how to get out of the dungeon (aka: the fashion closet) to how to approach editors with story ideas. “It’s best to simply approach your editors and tell them you have some ideas you’ve been working on that you’d like to talk about,” said Prevention.com’s Bardach.
“But most importantly,” added People’s Abrahams, “make sure you really know your audience and your magazine before pitching anything!”
So what did the interns think about the panel? “I have such a feeling of relief now!” said Justin Fenner, an intern at Footwear News. “And I loved Sunny Sea Gold’s advice about spinning your experience in order to match the qualifications of the job you’re applying to,” he said.
Morgan Reid, an intern at The Knot, also got some great advice about being a standout job applicant. “I loved Seth Porges’ idea about adding a well-researched anecdote to the beginning of my letter,” she said. “Even if it means using Wikipedia to get some history on the magazine’s topic, it can only help me relate to the job more,” she said.
The event was also a great way for to the interns to network and get to know their peers. Nina Elias, an intern at Family Circle, really loved the unique perspective of the panel. “I love sharing info with other interns, but it was really great to get advice from editors who have seen and experienced what we’re going through right now,” she said.
We can’t share all of the secrets that were spilled at the panel (sorry!), but the interns definitely took home tons of new tips and tricks to try at their magazines. If you weren’t able to make the panel, stay tuned! Ed has more networking events up his sleeve that he’ll be telling you about soon.