Having completed shall we say a few *cough a lot* work experience placements you could consider me quite the serial intern! So I thought I would pass on my magazine knowledge to my fellow blogging and aspiring journo friends. Hope this helps and enjoy :)
Work experience placements, especially at magazines, can be short most only lasting a week. To ensure you stand out, try to be confident. A friendly yet professional manner can work wonders, perhaps involve yourself in small talk with your colleagues whilst completing the task in hand. Try to have confident telephone manner as you may be expected to talk to PR's to request samples, images and general info about a product, speak clearly, confidently and listen carefully as PR's can speak quite quickly or without emphasis. If you're not sure if you got the correct email, just ask politely again and they may spell with the phonetic alphabet to help you out!
Always arrive on time, if not earlier, as several interns I worked with arrived early to make a good impression. Whatever you do, try not to be late when you can help it as although you may not be being paid, you are there to make an impression and you don't want them to remember you as the "late unorganised intern".
I'd advise to take a notepad and pen to make a list of tasks colleagues ask you to complete. Sometimes, a magazine office can get hectic and you may have many tasks on the go so it's always good to make a to do list so you don't end up forgetting something. Also try to listen carefully when your colleagues are giving you instructions as they won't want to repeat it and sometimes do speak quite quickly as they are can be pretty busy!
Always offer to make tea or refreshments. Also, if you are going out for lunch ask if any of the staff would like anything bought back.
I've happened to experience a few networking events and again it helps to be confident and friendly. What I wished I had in the beginnging was businness cards, great for when you meet someone and quickly want to exchange contact deets. I got mine relatively cheaply at www.moo.com, but there are plently of others on the net available for a small charge. So much easier than various scraps of paper that can easily get lost, they diffuse the awkard scramble for paper and pens. Also they look super professional making you look like you really mean businness!
Use your intitative
If you find yourself with nothing to do, use your own intitative to complete some tasks. Perhaps the editorial assistant has given you a list of possible tasks and you could help tidy the magazine files, for instance. Showing you're keen and want to work will look better than sitting there bored, so try to think of possible tasks that need doing. If not, always ask the ed assist or other members of staff as chances are they need help with something or other, just didn't know you were free! If you are interested in doing some writing and are free from other duties, try asking the online team if you could write any stories- great for your portfolio plus fab writing practice! I think this saying particuarly rings true for internships, "if you don't ask- you won't get!" So if you want to write, push yourself and perhaps show whilst you are prepared to knuckle down and do the nitty gritty, you have the potential to write/compile amazing stories too!
Don't expect too much
Whilst magazines are known to be glamourous the work sometimes is not. Be prepared to muck in and show you are keen to help out whatever the task. Do NOT think anything is beneath you as whilst one task may be boring, you may be given more interesting tasks later on in the week. From my experience once colleagues see you are capable and confident you will be given more responsbility- just don't expect to be writing a news story in a national mag on day one as you will be bitterly disappointed!
This may sound superficial, but wherever you do your work experience make sure you at least look smart & presentable, as after all you do want a job and are not going to achieve that by looking like a scruffbag in the morning! (With the exceptions of rock mags, Kerrang, Q etc where the scruffy look is the norm!) Each magazine tends to have their own dress code, some are relatively casual whilst others like to dress up; wearing heels, dresses etc. If you're unsure I'd advise to meet them halfway and go relatively smart on your first day. Go for smart staples that you have in your wardrobe that you feel comfortable and confident in, like a blazer for instance and you can always dress down accordingly the following days.
The Perks! After all it's not all hard work...
You usually find you will be given a goodie bag at the end of your stint for all your hard work. My room is, unsuprisingly considering the amount of work experience i've done, full of goodies consisting of make up, fake tan, moisturizer and various creams so you'll be in for a treat! I now have an obsession with red lipsticks- much to my boyfriend's dislike, my current fave being red mac lipstick!
You may see the odd celeb, I happened to bump into Stuart Baggs at Heat- took me a while to realise why I recongised him whilst muching away at my tuna sandwich!
Working for your favourite magazine/publication
The main reason why you're doing this: working alongside those who produce your favourite magazine and are doing the job you would love to do. I loved compiling fashion pages for Heat and I think that's the most important part, you must enjoy it. Work experience is a great way to realise, hang on I don't actually think this is for me, as whilst you may have always thought you wanted to be a high-flying magazine journalist- actually working there may give you a different picture than what you imagined.
Seeing your name in print is an added bonus, so remember to keep hold of your work so you can build a portfolio of your cuttings. That's currently where I'm up to, waiting for a cash injection so I can invest in a smart black folder to create a super smart portfolio.
I'm still on the road to success, but as many people have said to me- don't give up, its a long and hard road but if you want it enough you'll get there.
Said as much to myself as to my fellow blogging friends, hope this little guide helps! Would love to hear your comments on your internships/experiences. Any other tips for fellow aspiring journo's? Hit me back, please.
*Realised the "hit me back" sounded quite gangstaa so added the please to be polite!*