On March 28, I got the email from an editor at Redbook magazine, offering me a summer internship. After months of sending out cover letters and resumes to every magazine editor whose email address I could find, I finally I got an offer.
Redbook is one of the oldest women’s magazines. It has a national circulation of 2.2 million and is owned by the Hearst Corporation, which owns 20 other U.S. magazines including Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Seventeen. All of the magazines are headquartered in the Hearst Tower in New York City. Every day I shared elevators and waited in line for sushi with some of the best editors, photographers, models, artists and writers in the publishing industry.
On my first day I was a hot mess –literally. Afraid of getting lost on the subway, I opted to walk sixteen blocks in the scorching heat to the Hearst tower from my bus stop. I was sweaty, smelly and nervous. I finally made it to the building and to the Redbook office on the 22nd floor. I mentally prepared for an intimidating Devil Wears Prada monster, but luckily my editor was nothing like that.
I was put to work immediately. Every month Redbook runs a Home Under $100 spread, featuring affordable home décor items. My editor had me start working on September’s Home Under $100 page, calling in high resolution images and samples for photo shoots. Throughout the summer, I did this for every home spread for September, October and November’s issues. I built relationships with public relations teams for every store from Urban Outfitters and West Elm to Nordstrom’s and Pier 1. I also wrote home décor posts for Redbookmag.com. I went to industry events on behalf of my editor, including press previews for Teavana, Tide and an exclusive tour of Fab.com’s showroom.
The perks were amazing. The amount of freebies I accumulated over the summer borders on hoarding. When a company sends an item to be included in a photo shoot they almost always want it returned. If they don’t want it, we can keep it. I took home designer lamps, side tables, and rugs, all with a combined retail value probably worth more than my car. There was also a general freebie table where all the editors would put leftover items, including stacks of advanced copies of books, beauty and fashion items.
However, the learning experiences outweighed the material perks. As an intern I had access to Hearst Master Classes. I attended several classes, including discussions with fashion designer Michael Kors and political commentators and actors Bill Maher and John Oliver. Marie Claire also hosted a wardrobe workshop for all the interns in the building. This was helpful because the typical tips for professional wear are very far from how staffers at a magazine dress. Instead of blazers, slacks and pantsuits, I saw chic sundresses, crisp blouses, skinny jeans and stilettos. It was slightly intimidating. New York City as a whole is a rat race for best dressed and the media industry is a magnified version of that. However, hard work and confidence take precedent.
I gained so many valuable learning lessons and connections from my summer internship. Though I was hemorrhaging money faster than I could get more, I had an amazing time and have no regrets.