Tuesday, July 10, 2012

3 Ways To Overcome A Tough First Assignment (Part 2)

Hey Edsters,

I have to admit that when I wrote part one of this post, I was a little (ok, very) concerned that I would be coming to you this week with no advice to offer because I hadn't actually figured out how to overcome that first assignment. 

Luckily for both of us, that's not the case.

This past week was a huge improvement over last week, and once I stopped freaking out about how badly I was doing, I had the presence of mind to realize that I learned a ridiculous amount about how the magazine operates during that tough week. I even ended the week with my first national byline (and it's not even online, it's actually in the magazine). So, here's how I did it:

1. Stay late. Early in the week, I was finished with the first assignment, but still at the office around 7:00 when I heard a couple editors mention they needed an intern to work on something in the morning. I quickly realized that it was the same two editors who I had worked with on my first assignment. They noticed I was still there and gave me the task. I was able to complete it before noon the next day and redeem myself, at least a little bit, in their eyes.

2. Be meticulous. While I was working on assignment #1, I was also fact checking a pretty complicated piece. The process took several days of phone calls and emails with the writer and the source, and quite a bit of the original story was changed. Because so many corrections had been made over multiple days, I wanted to make sure all of the changes were reflected in the final product. My editor had already finished the page and moved on to something else when I asked her if I could see the final version, so I was a bit worried about how she would react. To my surprise, she was willing to let me see the page again and even said she appreciated me checking. 

3. Branch out. During the height of my crazy, I was pretty sure the editors I was working with on assignment #1 would never give me anything ever again, and I wouldn't have blamed them. In an effort to avoid being bored the rest of the summer, I reached out to other editors and helped with anything I could. I did my best to make a good impression this time around and I got to work on some pretty cool projects in the process. I think this one might be about to backfire on me (let's hope my next post isn't about handling 50,000 assignments at once), but hey, it's better than being bored and now I know more of the staff.

So there you have it. That first week was seemingly never-ending, but I made a bunch of mistakes I'll never make again. Sometimes it's good to remember that internships are supposed to be about learning the ropes, even though we all probably feel like we're supposed to be perfect from the start.

What have you learned so far, and what did you have to go through in the process?

See you next time,
Edit intern

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