Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How To Collaborate With Your Fellow Interns

Rule Number 1: Not all assignments are created equal. Ok, that tip is a given, but you never truly learn to appreciate the blatant truth behind this statement until you've been assigned to work with a partner on a project that would take a single person only a couple of hours to complete by themselves. On the flip side, there are some perks to collaborating with another person on a project, with the most obvious being that two completely different minds are contributing details for one idea from different angles.

If I haven't made it obvious yet, Annie (my partner in crime, err, I mean, fellow intern) and I were recently asked to work together on an assignment. And then another. And since then, one or two more. Like I've mentioned, Annie is great and we work together well, but there is only so much work that two people can share before they get burnt out on the other.

By working together so regularly with Annie, I've learned a few tips that will be helpful to keep in mind, should you ever find yourself trying to write a piece for your mag with someone who has a completely different writing style than you do. Trust me, it can be done, it just takes a little extra concentration, and maybe an extra shot in your afternoon Starbucks.

1. Don't be afraid to be yourself. This is just as much your project as it is your partner's, and at the end of the day your editors are going to see it as a mash up of both of your skills. If you come up with something to say that may be kind of quirky, say it! There's no harm in throwing your ideas into the mix, and you are only hurting yourself by trying to stay cordial with your partner and let them win the battle on whose idea is better. Which brings me to tip number 2...

2. Find a middle ground. Annie and I didn't always see eye to eye on how information should have been presented in our piece, but we both would quickly realize that this isn't an exercise in our personal writing style, but rather how two people can present their ideas in the voice of their publication. Lifestyle Mag has a very conversational, casual, and sometimes slightly snarky voice to it. When Annie and I would find ourselves with conflicting ideas, we would remind ourselves that we're writing this from a different point of view, and this change of mindset always helped us get back on track and adapt our ideas to suit the needs of the Lifestyle Mag.

3. In times of tension, take a breather. Yes, there were definitely moments when working together on a writing assignment wasn't all sunshine and lollipops. Sometimes Annie would make a comment that wasn't appreciated on my end, and sometimes I would make it a little too clear that I thought her ideas just weren't going to work. To diffuse to building tension, and salvage our relationship as really great office friends, we would sometimes put an abrupt end to our meetings to work on something else. These breaks from each other were oftentimes exactly what we needed to get back on track with our assignment.

Working with a fellow intern may not always be ideal, but through my experiences of working together with Annie, I was able to learn about the voice and audience of the Lifestyle Mag much more quickly than if I had been assigned to work alone. Case in point? Look at everything as a learning experience. Keeping a positive attitude about every assignment, no matter how much you may think at the time that you'll dislike it, will help you work to the best of your ability.

Have you had to work together with another intern on assignments for your internship? I'd love to hear your collaboration tips in the comments section!

Until next Wednesday,
Lifestyle Intern

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