Tuesday, August 2, 2011

5 Ways to Step Up at Your Internship

Hey there, fellow Edsters!

Another week, another set of memories that have made my time in New York unlike any other. I’ve been given a lot at work to juggle, but I love the challenge. I know the work I’m doing — especially now and however small the task — is really helping my editors. The work of an intern may not appear in print, but it’s felt around the office. A better office environment means a smoother operation and stronger publication. Never doubt your impact.

But with the weeks flying by until my (and your) internship’s end unfortunately, now more than ever it’s important to step up. My editors know me now and what I’m capable of. They’ve come to trust my ability to do assignments. Now it’s time for me — and you — to use that relationship to your advantage!

The people I’ve talked to in the industry have told me the most memorable interns are the ones who do more than just what they’re told. They’re the interns that go the extra mile constantly. And they’re the interns to strive to be. So what’s their common traits? What did they do? The five ways to stand out like them:

1) Always do more. No matter what the task, always go above the minimum. This is a good habit to get into earlier rather than later. Example: Your editor asks you to brainstorm three ideas for such-and-such-page. The good intern does three quickly. The great intern does five and beyond. Always see the number an editor sets as a minimum, not a maximum. (This is especially important on the edit test you’ll take later on for EA positions!)

2) Take initiative. Have a bit of lag time? Pick up a long-term project to work on or better yet, ask editors you haven’t worked with if they have any assignments. Not only will it introduce you to them and allow you to build a working relationship, but it’ll show you’re not the intern to let time idle by. And in this industry, it’s that embrace of time and productivity that’s winning.

3) Ask for specific assignments. Have an interest in a certain area? Don’t be afraid now to ask your editor to send more assignments of that nature your way — it usually works. During one of my internships, for example, I really grew to love fact-checking pieces. I asked for more fact-checking assignments and ended up fact-checking cover stories! Your editors do want to make this a rewarding experience for you, and by hinting to them what you like working on best, they can customize it better for you.

4) Always volunteer — even for grunt work. Never let an opportunity to help pass you by. If an editor offers up an assignment (even if it’s a coffee-run or copying), volunteer and do it eagerly. Great interns maintain a positive, can-do attitude. Let that mentality shine. Editors do notice it. Case in point: at my first internship, one of the interns I worked with would always volunteer to go out, drive and get my editors’ lunches. She had graduated, and at the end of the summer, she ended up with a job there.

5) Continue to work quickly, efficiently and to prioritize. Stepping up may mean adding more to your plate, but the point is to show your editor you can handle it. Continue doing the more urgent assignments first — making those copies for your ed’s meeting, for example. Always put your best effort in with any assignments tossed your way. That means proofreading something as little as the email you type to your editor with it — the last thing you want your ed to see now is a silly typo. Demonstrate you’re smart: you do know how things run around the office, what your ed wants and what comes first. The result of this effort? Proof to your editor you’ve meshed in and that those bigger assignments are worth sending your way.

So what do you think, Edsters? How do you stand out on the job? And what’s the one thing no intern should ever do when trying to impress?

Until next week,
Women's Mag Intern

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