Friday, July 1, 2011

How To Make An Awesome Second Impression

Hey fellow Edsters!

So, thankfully, my forgiving and fantastic managers seem to have put the Cupcake Incident of Summer 2011 behind them, and my ensuing time at The Mag has gone fairly smoothly since. I feel like I’ve tackled a million projects since I last wrote, and walked twice as many steps in stilettos. (How many weeks did it take me to actually start packing a pair of flip-flops in my purse? Three?)

Since I’m not quite sure where to start, I thought I’d shed some light on the dynamic at my office by outlining my experience interacting with my fellow interns, my managers and the higher-up editors. Spoiler: my review is generally glowing.

And, you know, then I can bore you next week with a detailed description of everything that goes into making the ginormous – and impeccably organized, if I do say so myself – research binders I’ve been putting together for editors. Or maybe I’ll blog-talk your ears off about the blog post I got to write today for The Mag, and what it was like to write a piece in the office under deadline pressure for a website that people actually read. (This greatly contrasts with the writing experience for my widely-unread school newspaper, which generally takes place during the witching hours, on my bed, usually with a Snickers bar in hand and the knowledge that my friends won’t hate me too much if I submit my article an hour or two late. Yeah. My manager at The Mag, not so much.)

But consider that my riveting cliff-hanger. First things first.

Friends, Romans, and Countrymen: My Fellow Interns
I got tremendously lucky to be working with such a brilliant and, frankly, chill group of girls this summer. I’ve been working a few weeks longer than the other summer interns, so I’m in the semi-lofty position of showing them the ropes – and, of course, I still feel that I have only a meager grasp of what I’m talking about.

Back to the girls themselves: all of them hearken from top-tier liberal arts and journalism schools, and they are exactly as intelligent and well-dressed as you would expect, although nowhere near as cutthroat as I had feared. Even so, I try to keep from collaborating with them on projects without checking with one of my managers. Though many of the editors have no idea what our names are, some pick favorites (annoying, but not unexpected), and I’d rather know that credit – or partiality – is being given where it’s due.

But I do trust and like my fellow interns so much, and I don’t draw a harsh professional line with any of them – I’ve hung out with a few outside of work (once at the Ed2010 happy hour meet-up!), and we had a great time getting to know each other and hunting down an elusive subway station (okay, that wasn’t the greatest). I’m looking forward to calling them good friends, and maybe someday, legitimate colleagues.

Please Report To: My Managers
Though I’m sure they were skeptical of me at first, I think I’m beginning to develop good relationships with both of my managers. One of them just added me on LinkedIn, anyway, so that seems indicative of positive, professional feelings! After the end of my second week, during which I worked my butt off for five days straight trying to prove that I did, in fact, belong there (I empathized strongly with Anne Hathaway’s character in The Devil Wears Prada when she’s trying to hunt down the last Harry Potter book. I kind of feel that way every day here, at least for a few hours), Manager 1 sent me an email applauding my effort, which for all the world felt like a five-hour Swedish massage in Tahiti. (Editorial Assistants – if your intern is doing something right, tell them! They’ll be beaming for days.)

It’s always been a struggle for me to strike the right amount of personal information to share and withhold in the workplace, but because my managers are only a few years older than me, I feel comfortable enough to tell them, say, my weekend plans, although I’ll never approach any personal subjects if either of them look frazzled. I’m always more than happy to hear them rant about anything – although happier if it has absolutely nothing to do with me – because it helps me understand what makes them tick, and since my job is to make their jobs easier by anticipating their needs, that’s useful to me.

I’m looking forward to getting to know Manager 1 and Manager 2 better over the next few months. Basically, I just want to know how to be them when I graduate.

They Won’t Bite: The Higher-Ups on the Foodchain
I studied the masthead before I got here. Like, I studied it. Like, show me a flash card with a position and I’ll most likely be able to rattle off the correct name. So to me, our Executive Editor, our Deputy Editor, our Editor-at-Large – these women are all sort of celebrities to me. They’re immeasurably cool.

And don’t get me started on the Editor-in-Chief.

I’ve had varied experiences with the big players at The Mag. One of them has me working on a long-term research project for her on what is possibly the most interesting and difficult-to-research story ever, and she’s got this enviably efficient, no-nonsense way of thumbing through my research which makes me want to stick my head in the sand when I fail to impress her. It also motivates me to present her with the most fascinating, mind-blowing source she’s ever seen in her life.

Another sent me on an early morning, way-uptown, and crucial errand that involved standing in the sun for three-and-a-half hours, and then decided to thank me by taking me out to a “fabulous” lunch next week. Well, okay, if you insist! (Who says task work is always unsatisfying?) She’s so much fun, and such an incredible writer, and I’m looking forward to talking to her outside of my cubicle.

The best stories, of course, are my hilariously awkward and fan-girly attempts to speak with my EIC, who is possibly the most glamorous and charismatic person with whom I have ever crossed paths. I took the elevator down to the lobby with her last week, and stammered a compliment about her studded bracelet. I then proceeded to tell her that I loved studs (not specifying whether my preference was for metal or men. It’s both), and that I had a Bedazzler in the third grade. And she didn’t even laugh at me. She also allowed me to talk her into trying the sunflower seed snacks someone keeps sending us, which look vaguely like dog food but taste deliciously like salsa. I’ll be swinging by Icing to pick up a BFF necklace for her any day now.

What can I say? My dream job is actually a dream job. That’s not to say that people don’t get snappy when they get stressed – we’re in the middle of closing week right now, and I’ve seen more furrowed brows than not. I’ve had some stresses unloaded on me that have had nothing to do with me, and I’ve seen a few passive-aggressive exchanges as crunch time really draws near. But I don’t see any of the other women taking it seriously, and neither do I. Creating a magazine isn’t a low-drama affair, and if you’re interested in getting into this business, chances are, you thrive off the stress, anyway.

On that note, I’d better get to bed. The challenges I enjoy overcoming do not include beating the two o’clock slump.

Love and many shots of espresso,
Features Intern

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you're so lucky that you get to have lunch with that editor, I hope it goes well. That could be a game changer, I'd totally love to get that opportunity at my internship!