Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

Trust Fund Winners: Where They Are Now

One thing is for sure: Ed has been in the magazine industry for longer than he cares to admit. He’s seen new glossies climb their way to success, and he’s watched as some titles met their ultimate demise. But one thing has remained the same over the years—the unpaid (but necessary) internship.

Ed won’t lie—his days as an unpaid intern were great; chowing down on Easy Mac and pulling pennies together with friends for boxed wine. Those indeed were simpler times! But through it all, Ed made one promise to himself: When he made it big one day, he’d try to help out a few lucky unpaid interns to ease their financial troubles.

Enter the Trust Fund—a $1,000 award that he gives to a stellar whippersnapper with an unpaid internship and an impressive story to tell. Ed caught up with a few of the past winners to find out what they’re doing today—and to get their best internship and career advice.

Chris Rackliffe, Details intern; Fall 2009 Winner
Post-graduation, Chris went the social-media route and landed his first job at BBGO,the world’s second-largest ad agency. Currently, he is the senior social media editor at Entertainment Weekly.

Ed: At the time, how helpful was the Ed Trust Fund? What is your advice for future applicants?
CR: I don’t know if [the internship] would have worked without the Trust Fund. I was literally on my last penny. I wrote my essay in a really powerful way, and afterward, I met with Chandra Turner and Sarah Bruning to accept the check and talk to them. They told me that my essay brought tears to their eyes. It was basically about my struggle after I graduated and I moved up to New York to pursue a career in magazines and editorial. I almost thought that I had failed, but then I got the call from Details. basically ended my essay by saying that I would put the money to good use.

The best advice for applying would be to tell your story, pull on the heartstrings, and explain why you deserve the money and what you’re going to do with it. For me, it went straight toward my rent and surviving.

Ed: What lasting impression has your internship left on you?
CR: The internship taught me to work hard no matter what, to show up every day with a positive attitude, to ask what more you can do, and to not be afraid to speak up and share your creative ideas. I always asked for criticism on how to improve, and I think that’s really helped me now with social media, because I’ve had to adapt on the fly.

Ed: What is your best “how to be a kick-ass intern” advice?
CR: Really stay on top of what’s new and what’s fresh, no matter what kind of internship you have. Stay on top of technology, social media, and how people are connecting.

Maniezheh Firouzi, Lucky and City intern; Summer 2007 Winner
Maniezheh graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in December 2007. She switched gears from magazines and joined Teach for America in Summer 2008, teaching 9th grade special education (English and History) and Spanish in Manhattan for two years. In Fall 2010, she began a two-year MA program in Fashion Studies at Parsons.

Ed: What is your best “how to be a kick-ass intern” advice?
MF: Master the copy machine. (Seriously!) Also, be open to and grateful for whatever challenge comes your way (with a smile!). You will learn the most from the times you find yourself embarrassed, defeated, or even uncomfortable.

Ed: What is one misconception you could clear up about working for a magazine?
MF: Don’t get caught up in “because it’s based in New York, it’s better.” Being from the Twin Cities, there’s always a deference one pays to New York. Yes, New York is an amazing city. Yes, if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. But at the same time, it’s a double-edged sword—there’s a constant buzz of anxiety because you realize how replaceable you are. Of course that’s true of many industries, and always will be. I am so glad I interned at so many different types of magazines and in different cities. The grass isn’t always greener.

Christen Brandt, O, The Oprah Magazine intern; Summer 2010 Winner
Christen graduated in December 2010 and is currently the co-founder and director of international operations at She’s the First.

Ed: How did you make the jump from intern to staffer?
CB: Actually, it was all thanks to winning the Ed2010 Trust Fund! I was able to meet Chandra (Turner), the founder of Ed2010 who’s also the executive editor at Parents. She let me know when there was a job opening, and I was able to apply. For me, it was all about networking.

Ed: At the time, how helpful was the Ed Trust Fund? What is your advice for future
applicants?

CB: For me it was incredibly helpful. I had an unpaid internship at the time and coming to New York was a huge financial hardship. It made a huge difference in being able to stay here. As far as future applicants, I would say to let your personality come through in the essay.

Ed: What do you think the biggest mistake is that you can make as an intern?
CB: Not asking questions. Sure, you definitely need to be resourceful and learn things on your own, but you have an intern supervisor for a reason. So, if you’re not entirely sure how to get something done, then use that resource.

Julie Vadnal, Esquire intern; Summer 2007 Winner
With the help from her connections at Esquire, Julie was able to land an editorial assistant position at Elle. She is currently a senior editor at Martha Stewart Weddings.

Ed: How did you make the jump from intern to full-time staffer?
JV: I really just made the jump by working my connections at Esquire while reading Elle like crazy so that when I went in for the interview, I was prepared to name stories and writers that I liked. It’s important when you’re applying anywhere to really know the magazine you’re applying to, and make sure that you’ve read at least a year’s worth of back issues. (Ed note: Visit your local library for old magazine issues.)

Ed: What’s the biggest lasting impression that your internship left on you?
JV: It gave me an idea of how hard fashion editors work. When I went over to editorial, I really fine tuned my reporting skills. They had us doing pieces for “Answer Fella” and their sex columnist, so I learned to pick up the phone and ask anyone anything about nipples and penises. I learned that skill from Esquire—just being uninhibited during interviews, which has definitely served me well.

Ed: What is your best “how to be a kick-ass intern” advice?
JV: The best interns are the ones who have a ton of enthusiasm and, first of all, just knowledge of the magazine. You’re not going to come in and know how Elle works, but if you know what stories we’ve featured in the past and what sections we have, it shows that you’re invested and you care about the product.

Rheana Murray, Rolling Stone intern; Spring 2010 Winner
Today, Rheana is  a digital reporter at ABC News.

Ed: How did you make the jump from intern to full-time staffer?
RM: I never actually “made it” in magazines, which is why I decided to do something else. For me, the smarter thing to do was to look for something that wasn’t so traditional, so I started freelancing for this marketing agency. They had clients who were trying to rebuild their brand, so whenever they needed copy, I would step in to do it. I’m still writing articles, and I’m still using my editorial skills, but I’m just using them in a different sense.

Ed: At the time, how helpful was the Ed Trust Fund? What is your advice for future
applicants?

RM: It was incredible helpful. It wasn’t only helpful financially, it was the fact that I also met everybody from Ed2010. It was the extra boost of encouragement that you need when you’re at wits’ end. Like, you don’t think you can do it anymore, but there’s a group of people saying ‘sure you can’ and ‘here you go, we’re going to help you.’

Alexa Cleary, Seventeen intern; Fall 2010 Winner
Currently, Alexa is a senior writer and editor at Moda Operandi, Inc.

Ed: What is your best “how to be a kick-ass intern” advice?
AC: Just put yourself out there. Always do more than you are told. I think you really need to live and breath the magazine you are at, then go beyond and pitch, pitch, pitch.

Ed: What’s the biggest lasting impression that your internship left on you?
AC: Everyone in that office loves what they do. You could tell there is a definite passion and camaraderie among the staff—they really care about each other, they care about their interns, and they want to deliver something they feel proud of.

Ed: What is one misconception you could clear up about working for a magazine?
AC: Magazines are not cold, unfriendly, competitive environments.
Sure, it’s a competitive field, but I feel that most of the offices are relaxed, creative places where the staff care for each other and they care about what they’re putting together. Another misconception would be all the glamor. They are definitely perks, but at the end of the day, it’s a lot of hard work.

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