Last spring, I was chosen to be the inaugural participant in the Time Inc. and Newhouse School Diversity Internship Program. I remember when Professor Chessher emailed me with the news, and I received a call from Time Inc. human resources shortly after, telling me I’d be at InStyle magazine. After serving as editor-in-chief of Zipped, SU’s fashion and beauty magazine, last year, I felt that interning at an influential and forward-looking fashion publication like InStyle was the perfect opportunity. This experience taught me so much about the magazine industry and about what it takes to be a successful intern. (Pro tip: treat your internship like a long job interview.) Here’s what I did, how it led to me staying at InStyle this fall while taking part in the Newhouse in New York semester and the five most important lessons I learned.
1. Never limit yourself to “official” duties.
Every internship comes with expected job responsibilities. As an editorial intern, mine included fact-checking, transcribing interviews with celebrities or experts and assisting editors with the usual entry-level tasks. However, I was able to dip my feet into other departments that interested me because I asked. Something that my InStyle mentor and market and accessories director, Sam Broekema, said that stuck with me is to be direct and ask for what you want. I realized if I didn’t ask, no one would know how to help me. For example, I’m passionate about graphic design. So I reached out to the design team and earned the chance to create Pinterest images for InStyle.com stories. I also hoped to leave my internship with at least one byline. It was the interns’ responsibility to pitch and reach out to section editors. Thanks to my outreach, I had seven bylines at the end of summer! Now that I’m back at InStyle for the fall, I’m consistently contributing to our site.
2. Say yes to everything—with a smile!
“Always say yes” is actually a tip I received from Sharon Kanter, deputy style director at People, and my Newhouse in New York mentor this semester. Before she was my mentor, I reached out to her over the summer for coffee (I had admired her from afar as a Newhouse magazine alumna doing awesome things). That’s when she gave me this key piece of advice. For example, I did (and still do) a ton of transcriptions. It might not seem as “cool” as writing a story for the site, but I always offer to do these because it’s fun to learn about both the interviewee, who’s usually a celebrity or some kind of expert, and the interviewer, someone who might have your dream job. Doing these transcriptions not only made me a lot more celeb-savvy, but also gave me an “in” with editors I might not have as easily crossed paths with.
3. Take advantage of any opportunity.
Both Time Inc. and InStyle hosted numerous events specifically designed for the summer interns. I was fortunate enough to attend tons of panels and talks.
At the beginning of the summer, the Time Inc. team hosted an executive panel where some of the highest-ranking executives candidly shared their career trajectories—and were super humble about it. I got to hear from Nancy Gibbs, former editor in chief of TIME and the first woman to lead the magazine; Jess Cagle, editorial director for People and Entertainment Weekly; and Vanessa De Luca, editor in chief of Essence. It’s not every day you get to ask industry veterans how they got to where they are today. Human resources also hosted a “Career Boot Camp,” where they briefed us on how to get that first job, covering all grounds from sample questions to ask an interviewer to utilizing LinkedIn properly (with a professional picture, which they took for us!).
4. Be prepared to take notes and pay attention.
I also attended seminars specifically for InStyle interns, where we heard from staffers themselves in an intimate setting. Site director Ruthie Friedlander shared how she made her way to InStyle; she wrote a thank-you note to editor-in-chief Laura Brown when she was a Harper’s Bazaar intern and kept following up—proof those notes do work! She also took questions from us about contributing to the site. I remember taking meticulous notes on what does well on InStyle.com and what a good pitch looks like to her, which came in handy once I completed my CMS training and wanted to write for the site. Through InStyle, I also was assigned my mentor, Sam Broekema. In addition to sharing insightful career advice and encouragement, Sam also talked me through my request to stay on at InStyle for my fall semester—remember, ask for what you want!
5. Say thanks.
I’m so excited to see what’s in store for me these next few months. Shout-out to Newhouse, Time Inc. and InStyle—and a special thank you to Professor Chessher, Cheryl Brody Franklin and Lisa Arbetter for working so hard to start up this amazing program and for providing minority students like me with this incredible opportunity.