Tips for Magazine Interns to Know

I’ve had a few questions recently (and I love questions, so thank you!) about what I wish I’d known before becoming an intern, particularly within the magazine industry.

So here’s a little list for you hardworking, word-loving-go-getters. The quoted statements in yellow were my confused thoughts during the early days of my internship, while the text that follows each statement explains what I learned.

1) “People always be talking ‘bout them heds and deks.”


Heds and deks (aka Heads and Decks) are the same as “headlines” and “subheads.” The hed is obviously the title of the story. The dek is a blurb or tease that makes someone want to continue reading an article. You may also see some publications call the first sentence of a story the “lede” (aka the Lead sentence).

2) “What in the world is a “deskside” and why am I sitting in on one?”


Typically PR companies are happy to pitch stories and products to your magazine, based on the type of publication. For example, at Parents Magazine we have tons of baby toys come through our doors. If an editor asks you to “cover a deskside” for them, they are asking you to listen in on a PR pitch. These sometimes take place right at your desk (ahh… the name…) but can also occur in meeting spaces or conference rooms throughout your office. Grab a pen, takes notes, and ask a question or two – that’s all you’re expected to do.

3) “Why are the prices TK and the editors TK and the dates TK?”

When looking over layouts still in progress, chances are you’ll find a few “TK’s” throughout the page. This is the intentional misspelling of “to come” as in “more information to come.” Most likely, parts of the story are still missing or haven’t happened yet. Many believe that TK looks odd and is easier to spot than the words “to come” which could easily be a phrase within an article.

I’ll try and update this post when I think of more terms or instances of confusion If you have any questions, feel free to email me at: thewhyblogger (at)
gmail.com or comment below!

And now I’m going back to work…


Please Call Me Back - Part #2

Bing. Buzz. Ring.
Bing Bing Buzz. RIIIIING!

“Parents Magazine this is Britney. Oh hi! No I’m so glad you called back…”

My email was
binging, my cell was buzzing, and my desk phone was certainly making himself known with a persistent ring.


“Yes, let me just check my email to see what we needed from you…”

Adrenaline was kicking in as the hours ticked away on my computer clock. If you’re just tuning in, I’ve got about 3 hours to call in books from the major publishing companies in New York. I’ve got no contacts, the books should be complimentary, and they must be rush delivered to the office.

To top it all off Box Expo America was currently underway in the city, which means the majority of publishing offices were empty as employees participated in the largest book fair in America.
Great.

“So it looks like we’ll need one of those, and one of these,” I say to a Big Publishing House. In the very back of my mind a small thrill creeps up, reminding me that I’m on the phone with one of the largest book producers in the world. My mind wondered briefly as I daydreamed about stacks of stories...

Bing, Buzz, Ring.

Quickly I turned back into work-Britney mode, or even better (and maybe much worse) I become the one thing my sisters have always despised: Competitive Britney. She rose from the depths of my soul and reared her ugly head! I WOULD NOT FAIL this first project. Even if I went out and bought $85 worth of these books myself, they WOULD be on the desk tomorrow morning.
We did have a small problem though.Two of the largest book companies were not returning my calls, and gave no specific email addresses on their website. But I needed numerous books from both, and if I could get those two contacts, I would have almost half my books. In essence, these were two pivotal companies for the success of my project.

Then suddenly, the coffee started working into my brain and I had a small stroke of genius.

Sure, I didn’t know any editors or publicity agents. And no, I’m not tight with marketers or CEOs. But I certainly know my interns… and they possess a secret power.



I texted Clare and Ivy (my Pub Club gals, classmates, and fellow interns) because it just so happens that they had both recently completed internships at the very two publishing houses I needed to access.


Bless them!
Not only did both of these contacts come through for me in the clutch, but they also promised to help point me in the right direction with the rest of my future projects pertaining to their companies.
“It would be great if you could overnight the package or send a messenger service. Yes? Okay great.”
My day was coming to a close, and it was almost time to run through Grand Central in pursuit of the 6 train. I had an evening shift at bloomies to complete my 14 hour day, but it didn’t matter because I had gotten my books.
I did not fail my mission.
*Editor’s Note: I owe a big thanks to Ivy and Clare for sharing their insider knowledge. My books wouldn’t have come in without you!
Look at that glorious pile of books. Have you ever seen anything so lovely?

Please Call Me Back: Part #1

Bing.

The email button lit up again on my work computer. Sweat was beginning to form on my forehead as I scooted closer to the screen. What I read did not help my current rate of perspiration.

The message said something along the lines of “We need those books by the end of tomorrow.”

Crap. I had one afternoon to call in 14 some books from large publishing companies, and yet possessed absolutely no contacts. Have you ever tried calling a publishing company? They're not exactly inviting, probably because of the number of crazy peoples' manuscripts the reject daily. Now how the heck was I going to swing this one?

Let’s back track…

My first day at the internship, I had been given a list of books to “call in” for a photo shoot. Instead of buying publications, most magazines contact a publicity department and get the books compensated, as well as delivered, directly from the publisher. We receive them at no cost; they obtain free press. Everyone is happy.

Except this little, worried intern.

Rule One: Never have faith in only one contact. An editor had emailed me the name and cell phone number of someone involved in a powerful industry-related company. Supposedly she could get us every book, and I wouldn’t need to play the telephone game all around town with separate (and hard to reach) publishing companies.

Do you think this worked? Do you think the book-drug lord of all contacts came through?

Well now, we wouldn’t have a blog post if she did, would we?

I grabbed a cup of coffee and forfeited my plan of going to the park for lunch. Lunch? Who can even eat lunch when you are about to fail as an intern! Had this ever happened before?

Just as my stomach was about to flip into that horrible knot, previously caused by public speaking, math test, and long plane rides, an ex-intern walked over to my desk. “Hi Britney!” she said, greeting me with a smile I didn’t think I deserved.
She probably never had such a problem getting hold of contacts.
“How’s the internship going?”
“Oh yeah, you know… It’s really great so far. I’m just, uh, trying to call in these books,” I said slowly - then added in a much more rushed tone, “But of course no one is answering or emailing me back.” It was hard to hide the traces of panic slipping into my expression.

“Oh don’t worry. You’ll get used to that,” she said, continuing to explain that these things happen and how quick deadlines arise constantly, but that you learn to complete the task at hand.

After thanking her for the bits of wisdom, I starred down at my coffee and then back to the computer screen. The knot subsided ever so slightly.

I had conquered public speaking! I was a Communications Major and university tour guide. I had conquered long plane rides! My Ireland trip was 7 hours on a plane by myself. I had conquered math test! Well, actually
no, I hadn’t really… but I graduated so you know…
Bing.

Another email. “Have you heard anything about the books yet?”

Nope. Guess it was time to really get started. This project was not going to be some failed math test, and these companies were most certainly going to call me back. Check out "The Why" again tomorrow to see how it all plays out...


Worried face. This was actually taken after I ate someone's sandwich at a bar. Turned out it was the leftovers from the couple who sat at the table before us... not a person from our party. Ew. But so good.

First Day as "Parents" Intern

Meredith Corporation's headquarters are located on the corner of Lexington and Park Avenue. Situated right next to Grand Central Terminal, this billion-dollar business is quite literally in the heart of Manhattan.

Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, Family Circle, and of course Parents magazine all resided in the looming structure before me. I stopped and stared at the offices piled high on top of one another, taking in the final moment before the experience began.

Sometimes that’s the best moment.

As I approached the revolving glass doors, my speed increased to a near jog. Unlike my first day at Martha Stewart Living, I wasn’t 30 minutes early but in fact almost 5 minutes late. This is untypical Britney behavior, but I just had to get that cup of coffee in Astoria… and who knew “train traffic” could be so bad during peak hours?

That’s right – I’m officially apart of the “rat race” in the city with the most rats. Every morning I run to my coffee shop with most of my makeup done, then hop onto a crowed subway train and search (in vain) for a seat. Exiting at Grand Central is, well…grand, and running my swipe card through a turnstile to enter 375 Lex can be slightly thrilling.

Plus they’ve given me a voicemail, and a computer, and a work email, and a DESK, and it comes with DRAWERS!?

Yes, there is one problem though…that whole thing about not getting paid? Ehh, soon enough my friends. One day this internship lifestyle will result in something we call a real job.

Anyways – back to Day One. Slightly late but only a little ruffled, I find my office and the editorial assistant who’s ready to get me started. After going on the grand tour of Parents magazine, I’m put to work. Fixing email problems, copying papers, opening reader mail (some of which was hilarious PS) to calling in book orders and working on research projects; I felt like on my first day I’d done so much. Yet there was still more to do and projects left incomplete – I even considered doing some of it at home. Don’t worry; I didn’t.

But what a good a feeling.

Already there is a sense that my contributions are important, even with the first week still in progress. More to come…. And stayed tuned because Day Three was a doozy.

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Meredith Corp's headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

Thursday's Things New Yorkers Say: She Speaks

I was carrying two grocery bags from Whole Foods.
It was finally a blue-sky kind of day, though deceptively chilly when the wind whipped around a building. But that's typical spring weather, and I was simply content to wake up to something besides the miserable, ever-present grey.
So when I was asked to walk several avenues across the island to purchase party supplies for the editorial department, I didn't mind in the slightest. Pesky sunshine rays had been whispering in my ear, "Come indulge!" all day long.
The green Amex felt heavy in my wallet, weighed down by purchases I couldn't even dream of making as a poor grad student. I was sure that today's $60 shopping spree was nothing in comparison.
Ow... These bags were getting heavy.
I rounded the corner, and glanced up to see 601 W. 26th in the distance. Despite the commute, I had come to enjoy this looming building full of all types of important people, from book publishers and magazine companies, to Homeland Security.
Oh no. These bags we're going to break. "Just make it the elevator," I told myself. "Just make it there, then put...bags...down."
Ha! Made it.
I slumped against the elevator wall and massaged my fingers. We zipped up the floors, only stopping once. I was alone in the car when the 9th level button lit up, signaling my arrival.
Ding ding.
As the doors slid open, I reluctantly grabbed the heavy Whole Foods bags. I heard footsteps rush to catch my elevator followed by a set of slower yet more pronounced clip-clops.
I glanced up and saw a woman stick her arm out, as another blonde lady walked my way. She spoke right as I leaned over to secure the packages around my wrist.
"Hellooo," she said, almost with a smile.
I probably looked frazzled. The wind had blown my curls around for the last hour, and heavy bags pulled my arms down, bunching up the sleeves of my coat. I had a guest pass in one hand and my phone in the other.
But it didn't matter.
Because MARTHA STEWART was talking to ME.
Yes, a millionaire was gracing me with conversation. The owner of her own omnimedia corporation was acknowledging the poor, lowly intern, who at the moment, also happened to look like a crazy bag lady.
Ah!!!
Now…. that was about the extent of our dialogue. I did manage to mumble out a "hiiiii," or something along those lines.
But that one simple phrase? That little "hello" with an extra emphasis on the "hel" and a slight lowered tone on the "o?"
I'll never forget it.
And that's all New York needed to say this week, my friends.

New May issue, just out on stands.

Thursday's Things New Yorkers Say: Coffee and Canned Soup

First, an update for those of you who aren’t on Twitter: I saw her! I finally saw Martha! She was taking photos with our new editor in chief and I caught a few glimpses from afar. While they were having the shoot, I was told to go into the editor’s office and finish putting up storyboards (snapshots of the pictures used for articles).
She returned, so typically I would vacate the office because you never know if a meeting or conference call is about to take place. But the editor was very sweet, and told me I could continue to my work.
Then suddenly she says, “Thanks for shooting with us Martha!”
My eyes dart to the door. I see a blonde woman walk by with her arm extended in a slight wave, and that trademark scary smile that always leaves you wondering.
Oh my lordy! It was HER! Homemaker, baker, gardener, and powerful businesswoman all wrapped up in one, like some complex casserole.
Now my internship is complete.
Speaking of the office, here’s a tidbit from today’s conversations for Thursday’s Things:
In the kitchen area at the magazine, around 1pm:
There were three of us.
One was warming something. One was pulling out milk from the fridge, and I was washing my coffee mug.
But I knew we were all there for the same thing. The coffee canister was slowly filling up with a warm, fresh batch of black deliciousness and the three of us wanted to be privy to the first couple cups. So one at a time we formed a small, almost subtle line.
“Here for coffee?” “Yep.” “Yep.”
There’s a moments pause while we all stare at the coffee maker with longing in our eyes. Drip drip drip. Could this take any longer?
Suddenly the woman in front of me starts swinging her arms back and forth, and sways from side to side. “This is my coffee dance!” she says. I laugh at her, but focus on the task at hand – I need coffee ASAP.
“We’re on the drip,” the other woman says. Hours seem to go by as the brown liquid gold flows hesitantly into the canister. Coffee Dancer begins to add a little hop to her dance, while Coffee Fiend #1 (and I am most certainly Coffee Fiend #2) starts to edge toward our desired beverage.
Drip. Pause. Drip. Pause.
Coffee Dancer quickly runs to the aid of the machine. I admire her motivation as she shakes the last droplets of water from the filter with a frenzied look upon her face. We Fiends #1 and #2 also step forward to prepare our mugs for that afternoon pick-me-up.
Coffee Fiend #1 turns to me, obviously excited about the beverage soon to rip through our bodies. “This is like extra-strength, you know?”
“Yeah, yeah” I say to her with crazy eyes and maybe a small twitch.
“And you know when you have, like, that chill in your brain??”
“Yeah, this’ll fix that!” I say and we both laugh like villains. Coffee Dancer has just filled her cup, and is eyeing the black pool with a look of ecstasy. Meanwhile, the three of us have caused a bit of a scene – people wonder by to see if there are any free samples from the test kitchen, only to be bitterly disappointed that no, in fact we are just really excited about the free coffee that’s available everyday.
“Like drug addicts on a street corner…” a man laughs at us as he walks by, shaking his head in mock disgust. Yes. We were. But it's the little things that can bring you immense joy throughout the week, and believe me, free food and beverage ranks high on my list.
“CHEERS!!” we three shout, and clink mugs most conspicuously, forever bonded by the love of that ferocious black drink.
********
Speaking of free food... My family sent box full of sustenance! The combos were gone on the first nights, the chocolate-covered pretzels are well on their way out. I desided to try some soup for dinner..

Might be sketch...

But I opted to give "Giant Chunky" a good ol' try.

Okay I ate the first half warm in a bowl. But then, I got hungry about two hours later...

So I may or may not have just eaten it out of the can...

And it was good.
Props to you "Giant Chunky." I know my old roommates want to throw up right now. But you guys weren't here to tell me not to eat things cold when saving time! Hehehe... yum.

A Bold Statement

May, June, July.
I was organizing binders for the new editor in chief of the magazine. After photocopying 1500 sheets of paper, 200 needed to be individually separated into sheet protectors. The top of every page read a corresponding month, and they needed to follow the pattern, “May… June… July.”
May… June… July
Soon enough I was on autopilot. My hands nimbly moved the pages, sticking them into sheet protectors, but my mind had long vacated any menial task and drifted wistfully into a land of its own.
The smallest part of my attention span was fixated on making sure the pages were in order.
May… June… July.
How many times had I said my mantra? “Hum… well let’s see,” I thought with the distracted portion of my brain. “There are 1500 pages, and three months, so that means… I’ll repeat this phrase 500 times in my head.”
Oh.
Then my mind really tumbled into Never Land, Wonderland, Whatever You Want To Call It. I didn’t want to do this! Not forever at least. Sure, sure everyone needs to have the crappy jobs and be the intern and photocopy thousands of pages. It’s good for you… and it’s humbling.
But if I knew this wasn’t a permanent setup, then what exactly did I want to do next? Literary agencies are cutthroat and under a lot of pressure to succeed with a failing book market. Publishers are struggling to adjust to the new e-technology and have long since given up as the romanticized 1960s novel-hunters we know and love. Business has beat out creativity and marketing can be more important than the actual book itself.
And then it struck me. Now, maybe you already know what I’m going to say or maybe you’ve already guessed where I’d end up. Maybe you don’t care, but you accidently read this post and now you kind of want to know that…
I want to write.
Zing! That realization hit me like a ton of 1500-page binders.
Yes, I want to write. I want to dive into worlds, true or imaginary, that you can picture and taste and breathe in like a real ocean’s breeze or warm city night. I want to take you through the streets of Newark and show you what it looks like to be addicted to crack. I want to grab you by the hand and drag you though the subways and supermarkets of New York. I want to document personalities and human character. I want to give you the world, my world, and analyze its every fiber to present you with the truest sense of an experience – to present you with an adventure.
And I want you right there with me.
May, June, July.
No, this realization doesn’t make things any easier! Maybe it makes things more difficult. But I know this: I don’t want to edit the books; I want to write them. I don’t want to find the authors; I want to be them. I don’t want to research the stories; I want to live them. And that is a bold statement my friends.
May, July, June.
Ha. How ironic.
The last three pages were out of order.

**********
Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated topic, it was Spring Break, St. Patrick's Day, and Sam's birthday this week! Here are some pictures from around town:

Crazy St. Patricks day. Notice the guy's shirt in front. Ah, one of the many dumb shirts for the day.


All of the avenues were crawling with people in green.


Had to have one of these.


A "plastic paddy!"


We spent most the night in Queens pubs because 1) there were real Irish people and 2) Manhattan was getting ridiculous


Sam's birthday!


She hosted her party at Brooklyn Bowl...


...which happens to have amazing food. We were all grossly full by the end of the night.

First Day as "Martha" Intern

I was 30 minutes early… again.
Why I perpetually stress about exact times and subway hold-ups, I’ll never know. The first day of anything new (Bloomingdales, graduate school, Martha Stewart Living, etc.) I am almost always 30 minutes early.
And then, once I find out the latest possible time I can crawl out of bed without being tardy, I sleep in late and rush rush rush… but in that situation it’s for good reason. What an anxious insomniac I do seem.
Never the less, I promptly arrived at Martha Stewart’s corporate office at 12pm on Monday afternoon. After a brief tour of the 9th floor, I was sent to work on a few different aspects for the editorial department.
The space is beautiful, with multitudes of natural lighting and magazine layouts covering the walls like artwork. It's slightly odd being the only intern, since everyone else is a permanent employee working on their careers, but I like the challenge this presents.
Large Mac computers are organized into rows based on departments and publications, with me seated in the middle of the Martha Stewart Living section. Yes! I have a desk. And Martha mug? That's just too much...
Now this is when it gets tricky. I want to tell you all everything! What I did, who I saw, my daily assignments – but you know I can’t. Just like with Bloomingdale’s, I had to sign a confidentiality contract. Of course this makes sense with a magazine, and it’s an opportunity I’d rather not destroy. So for now, these lips are sealed.
But I would suggest following MS_Living on Twitter ;)

Getting coffee does not seem as though it will be the main aspect of my internship.
More to come.