Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer Recap: The 5 Lessons I Took from NYC

Hey there, fellow Edsters!

The summer’s coming to an official close, and it’s hard to think it’s almost time to pack up and head back down to school.

I’ve undergone such a transformation in New York: who I am now is very different from who I was at the beginning of the summer — but in a good way! I’ve become so much more confident and fearless in my work. I’m comfortable in the city. And I know now more than ever this is what I want to do, and New York is where I want to do it.

At every internship, I take different lessons. This year is no different. The journey may have been a little more challenging: adjusting to New York and a major internship away from home is no cake walk. But every second was worth it. My internship at the mag was nothing but a positive experience, and I’ve loved every moment of it.

My top lessons from this year?

1) New York can be a big, lonely place, but give it time: it gets better. Adjusting to a new city where you don’t know anyone is never easy. But it’s so important to keep pushing. A lot of the editors I met with this summer told me the transition to New York was actually harder than the transition from intern to editorial assistant work. The best advice they gave me to deal? “Stay out as much as possible.” Avoid that lonely apartment and immerse yourself with people. Go to events. Reach out to alumni from your school living in the area, coworkers or friends of friends. Cast out as many lines as you can, and soon enough you’ll have a circle of friends who will help keep homesickness out of the picture.

2) Always, always step up. Never let the opportunity to lend an extra hand pass you by at your internship. When editors give you bigger assignments, it’s important to cast aside your doubt and remember that they gave you this assignment because they know you’re capable. So prove them right and do the best you can with it. It’s always OK to ask questions when in serious doubt, but give your judgement some credit too. Follow your common sense, and don’t doubt yourself. You’ve proven yourself with the small things; now it’s time to rock the bigger ones.

3) Organization is the key to success. A clean space is a clear mind; a to-do list is time management’s best friend. At any internship, it’s important to be able to balance tasks and judge which is more important. Staying on top of everything not only makes your day a little easier, but also makes you more of an asset to your editor. When doing assignments, let that organization carry into them, too: explain clearly what you’ve done. Label and use stickies so the assignment is easy to follow for your busy ed. Editors like thoroughness: show you’ve got that, and you will stand out.

4) Take advantage of what’s around you. Don’t forget you’re in New York, at the heart of the industry. Take advantage of the people working on the publication with you: try to get to know them and foster relationships with them, whether through informational interviews or just doing assignments for them. And keep in mind the people out of your mag too: the HR contact at your organization, editors in different publishing houses, other fellow interns, etc. The person who helps you land that first job could be just one coffee meeting away. So keep talking, networking and taking advantage of the subway that links you to anyone.

5) Don’t forget to enjoy the ride. It’s so easy to get preoccupied with doing the best at work or networking. At the end of the day, however, ask yourself how much fun you’re having. Do you love what you’re doing? This internship is more than your chance to help a publication; it’s the chance to see if you’ll really be happy here and if this is what you want to do. Think of it as a career consultation. If at the end of the day you’re exhausted and miserable, it may be time to reevaluate, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just as meaningful to learn something is the wrong fit as it is to learn it’s the right one. Keep in mind your feelings; they’re more important than anyone else’s. After all, it’s your career and life. Shouldn’t you have the best one you can?

And there we have it, Edsters: the biggest lessons from this summer! It’s been such a pleasure sharing my experience and advice with you; I hope it’s made a difference. I wish you all the best in everything and look forward to meeting you someday down the line, when we’re all big-shot editors, reflecting on our journey during an Ed happy hour (hey, we can dream, right?)

Best of luck, keep pushing and aim for the stars! You never know how far you’ll go.

My best always,
Women’s Mag Intern

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