Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How Can You Be Eager Without Being Annoying?

My internship is officially more than half over! I can’t believe how fast it’s going – feels like I just started.

For the most part, the first half of the summer has been good. A learning experience, for sure, and different than I expected, but I feel like it’s been valuable and I think I’ve learned a lot about the office, like how a story gets from idea to publication, how long the research process takes, and generally which editor is responsible for what.

One thing I haven’t quite figured out, though, is my relationship with my editor. Specifically, I’m struggling to figure out when and how much to check in.

Here’s the thing. At my past internships, the offices have either had cubicles or been totally open. With those set-ups, my bosses would walk by me multiple times per day, and so checking in sort of happened naturally. At the mag, that is not the case. Everyone has their own office, which is awesome, but it doesn’t do much to facilitate conversation.

For the first few weeks, I was checking in with my editor every morning, updating him on my progress and getting the meeting schedule for the day. Those daily check-ins started to feel useless, though, and I felt like I was annoying my extremely busy editor.

So I moved to checking in only when I couldn’t do any more work without guidance. And then slowly I moved to just emailing questions to my editor instead of stopping by. This is well and good, but it means I sometimes go days without talking to my boss, which seems strange.

This past week, I only saw my boss once, and I had to email him to see if there was a time he was free for me to drop by. This seemed a little odd to me, and I worry that he’s going to think I’m not being proactive enough, when really I’m just trying not to be annoying. I still don’t know my editor that well – we never did have that lunch I mentioned earlier – so I’m a little worried about his impression of me.

I think next week I might try to make sure I at least email my editor at least once a day (ideally with a substantial update), so he knows that I’m in the office and I’m working. But I don’t know if that’s an ideal set-up, either.

So, what do you think, Edsters? How often do you check in with your editors, and where’s the line between being eager and being annoying?

Edit intern


  1. I had a very similar problem while interning at Zagat Survey. It seemed like every time I asked my bosses for guidance or a new assignment I was just creating more work for them instead of helping the team accomplish things. I think you need to strike a balance between pestering and passivity, but it will probably never feel quite right.

  2. I had a 9 month internship with a magazine and have experienced something similar to what you've described here. What I found out was that Editors have a pretty heavy work load, which seems so simple to say, but it really is a lot, especially if the magazine is under a tight budget. What I found to be the best solution to the feeling that 'you're not sure where you stand', is to send a status update at the end of everyday. That way you've kept the lines of communication open and the editors will have a current knowledge of your productivity. Also, in the end, it's an experience for interns to find what makes a good fit. It's nice to find a place to work that challenges us and is also inspiring!