Thursday, August 1, 2013

Navigating The Art Of: 'Keep In Touch!'

Hey Edsters,

So, this may be a weird topic to bring up mid-internship, but I learned this week that ‘keeping in touch’ is not just reserved for emails between you and your internship supervisor.

First of all, I have no idea what kind of animal the phrase “keep in touch!” really is. I used to think it was just something that supervisors felt obligated to say at the end of an internship. But really, I thought, who wants loads of emails in their inbox about whatever my next internship happened to be?

Case in point: 1.5 years ago, I bussed into New York City over the winter semester to complete my first big magazine industry internship. It was a glorious lesson in what really went down at one of my favorite magazines. As it turns out, it involved a lot of twelve-hour days and aching feet, accompanied by falling asleep over dinner every single night.

I’m sure some of you have experienced the same.

At the end of my 4 weeks, I walked off with an inordinate amount of free clothes, a pat on the back, and that silly phrase ringing in my ears: “Keep in touch!” I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant; but ever the optimist, I was like ‘hey, this is really cool, I AM going to keep in touch via a email every couple of months or so.’

In February, I emailed with well wishes and a little bit of gushing about how cool it was to see spreads that I had worked on come to life in the March issue.

No response.

In April, I emailed about my plans for my next internship, when I’d be in the city next, and threw in something about catching up over a cup of coffee sometime.

No response.

I’m not going to lie, it was a little heartbreaking. True, I hadn’t been there for long but I swear, I wasn’t a wallflower while I was there! I was a little bitter about it, and I ended up just projecting that experience onto the industry as a whole. I reached the (wrong) conclusion that by, “Keep in touch” a lot of people really just meant, “It’s been real, good luck with whatever you do next.”

Fast forward to six months ago. Once again, I bussed myself to New York City for a winter internship at another magazine I adore. Not much had changed in the area of 12-hour days accompanied by falling asleep at the same time as my grandma, but this time I was more prepared for it. Also, this time I got paired up with the senior market editor for personal assistance during the span of my internship. She had just moved into the position, and was probably the chillest senior market editor I will ever have the opportunity to meet. She regularly wore jeans, white t-shirts, and skipped makeup most days. Someone spelled her name wrong on the board in the fashion closet and she was like ‘eh, whatever.’

I instantly fell in career-oriented love.

At the end of my internship, we rode the subway to our respective stops together and she said nice things and wished me luck in the coming semester. In February, I emailed her about the March issue, and she emailed back within five days. Mid-June, I emailed her about being a reference for a freelance position I was applying for her.

No response.

Well, I thought, that was fun while it lasted.  But wait! Last Monday, I was shocked when I logged into my email to find a message from her waiting in my inbox. She apologized profusely for her late response, and said that she’d be happy to be a reference for me. I was stunned. Because I can’t just let good things be, I emailed back saying “thanks so much” and then moved in for the kill: “Want to grab coffee sometime?”

Edsters, we’re getting coffee together next Thursday.

That success on Monday spurred me to try harder on this whole keeping in touch business. On Tuesday, I came across a funny Trader Joe’s rant that had gone viral. It made me think of a conversation I had had at an event with a junior staff member of another popular website in the same field. The event had been weeks ago, but I found her address and emailed her anyways, pasting in the link and wishing her well. She responded with plenty of exclamation points in under an hour.

On Wednesday, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists were announced, and I remembered that I had briefly emailed one of the designers last summer during a remote menswear-related internship. Even though there’s no way he would have remembered me, I emailed him a congratulatory note because hey, why not? I got a response within two hours.

Thursday night, I went to a private dinner event in place of my editor, who couldn’t make it last minute. I sat right next to the founder of a popular urban fashion blog, and the next day, I emailed saying how great it was to meet her. She emailed back within an hour saying the same and ending with, of course: “Keep in touch!”

Basically, I think I managed to teach myself within five days that not everybody is out to ignore all my emails. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. The industry is small and the more connected you stay, the more everyone will remember you fondly.

So, I hope this encourages you to trust in the power of sending a nice email simply to “keep in touch.” And if you don’t get a response, don’t let it hold you back from sending the next email. Now, I’m dying to know, do you have any great stories about keeping in touch? 

Until next week,

Ed’s Entertainment Intern

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