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Intern Diaries: How I Survived the Worst First Day—Ever

Welcome to Ed’s Intern Diaries! In this limited-edition series, you will hear first-hand accounts on what it’s like out there on the front lines of interning. Click here to read from both of this season’s bloggers.

 

When I graduated in December, I thought that I had a huge leg up on my editorial competition by jumping into the magazine world a semester early. I lined up a post-grad internship and some freelance writing side jobs—I was convinced my big break was on its way.

But on the first day of my internship, the magazine I was working for folded. Yep—they shut it down. I walked into the building and hadn’t even taken off my coat when the editorial assistant pulled me into a conference room and said, “We’re sorry, but the magazine is shutting down because our company has purchased another magazine to replace us.”

My first thought was, “Well, maybe I can snag another internship.” But I knew the deadlines had all passed.

Right after I got the news, someone called all of the editors into a meeting in a conference room. I waited outside the glass room and watched as they all got the news. Some of them looked terrified while others seemed completely calm.

When they came out of the meeting, the editorial assistant stopped me again. She said, if I was interested, I could stay for another month and clean desks while helping the online editorial team, which would still publish articles online. Plus, they would pay me an intern salary.

It was a total blow to my confidence, but I decided to stick with the internship. I thought it was better to network with a tiny team of online editors than be unemployed—even if part of my job description was cleaning. After weeks of being a post-graduate janitor, the magazine gods threw me a bone.

When the editors from the new magazine were getting ready to move into our building, they were missing an editorial assistant and needed someone to help them transition to their new offices—fast. Thanks to a personal recommendation from a remaining editor, they brought me on as a temporary editorial assistant as well as the intern for my old magazine’s website. But since the gig was temporary, I’m back to being an intern this summer.

Being an intern again after having an entry-level job for a few weeks was disheartening. I felt like I had worked so hard for this company, and I thought that taking the temporary assistant role was going to turn into a full-time position. And while it didn’t work out how I planned, they wouldn’t have offered me another internship if they didn’t see potential in me, right?

Though my first months as an intern were pretty tough, now I know that not every experience in publishing will be glamorous, but if you work hard to impress your editors, no matter what, sometimes you get a lucky break. Other times, you get some disinfectant spray, a roll of paper towels, and the occasional writing assignment.

But, hey, even after my experience, I still believe that my decision to accept the job of full-time janitor and part-time editorial intern left a better impression on my editors than if I decided to just walk out the door that day. I learned that editors are impressed when you take on trivial tasks, like coffee and mailroom runs, with the same attitude that you would with a writing assignment. They’ll remember your dedication to helping them in any way possible, which can mean more than your skills as a writer.

How has your internship (past or present) surprised you? What unexpected things have you learned while interning? I’d love to know!

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