Saturday, July 23, 2011
How To Be An Expert on Everything (Or At Least Fake It)
It was the first week of my fitness internship when I realized I didn’t own a pair of sneakers. I had just settled in to the city, and decided I should go ahead and splurge on a gym membership if my career (for the next few months at least) was going to be about exercise and nutrition.
Now, I’m no Heidi Klum, but I can safely say that I have been blessed with a fast metabolism that has afforded me the luxury of being able to eat what I want and never gain weight. So, besides a few yoga classes every once in a while, I’ve never really had to work out.
Anyhow, I found a gym close to my apartment and was prepared to walk over and sign up for my membership, but it occurred to me that the only sneakers I owned were converse. Yikes! How embarrassing. My roommates got a big kick out of the situation, but I started to wonder how the heck I was going to make it through an internship with the fitness department when I didn’t know much about the subject. But then it dawned on me: Journalists don’t have to practice what they preach.
You may be rolling your eyes, thinking I didn’t deserve this position. But not everyone that writes for magazines exemplifies their readers. Two great examples: The EIC of Inked magazine doesn’t have any tattoos, and the editor of a top foodie magazine once told me she loved McDonald’s fries (and had her wedding catered by a fast food joint!).
My point? Sometimes you need to BS your way through an internship or job. I previously interned for a men’s magazine, and I didn’t exactly have a lot in common with their main demographic. But I was still a kick a** intern.
How, you ask? Every morning I searched through men’s fashion blogs, men’s magazine websites, and cultural websites like urbandaddy.com that would give me an insight into the male readers’ mind--what they want to see, purchase, and read. And for my fitness internship, I’ve done the same but with exercise and nutrition. Follow people on twitter that are experts on your main research area. Ask your editors what their favorite blogs are. Buy your competitor’s magazines to get a feel for the trends they’ve already covered.
Writers do countless hours of research and interview experts for their articles, so you don’t have to know everything about your subject going in to an internship. The reason I love journalism is because I’m able to report about so many different things, and I’m slowly becoming an “expert” on just about anything.
Till Next Saturday,