Obsessed with magazines from my early teens, I have dreamed of working at one for as long as I can remember. Like many thousands of other girls I embarked on the internship – the rite of passage into any job at a glamorous publication.
With over 23 weeks of unpaid labour at ten titles and websites – high-end to high street, weekly and monthly – under my belt, I can safely conclude that the inside of many a magazine is more than a little The Devil Wears Prada. However, I also found that they can be the most incredible and influential creative hubs, and I’ve met some absolutely lovely and inspiring people along the way. Don’t judge a magazine by its cover…
Here’s all the random things I learnt as an intern.
1. You will feel as though you have been airlifted to (an albeit very chic) planet zog
Maybe it’s all the creativity and freebies going on, but magazines can often feel like another planet. At one high-end society title I had Annabel’s private members club on the phone in one ear, and a discussion about why Made In Chelsea‘s Mark Francis Vandelli is actually a chav going on in my other. Surreal.
Indeed, #firstworldproblems doesn’t quite cover it, when losing a Saint Laurent jacket in the fashion cupboard (aka room) seems like the end of the world, and weekly 12-hour return flights to Barcelona are the norm.
2. Fashion people do actually eat…but it’s weird stuff
In fact, at one legendary fashion monthly I couldn’t believe how much they actually ate. Why do I know? Because I was sent to fetch the calories each time.
Marmite was a favourite topping, and rye break was the carb du jour. One time a fellow intern brought back the normal white stuff and the fashion ed threw it on the floor and screamed, “I’m NOT eating this”. Hangry or what?!
Skinny and soy lattes were a given. Natch. As was the ability to accurately remember lengthy and complex orders shouted across the office to you and never repeated. My favourite memory? The work experience handbook which included the golden line: ‘It is very important that you ask the editor if they would like their water served at room temperature or chilled’.
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3. What to wear is the least of your worries
Let’s face it, the average work experience will hardly be expected to turn up decked out in Burberry (one fellow intern did have a pricey Chanel habit, and bought at pair of Saint Laurent heels on her lunch break, but that was hardly the norm).
Obviously dress as though you’re interested in the subject matter, but no one’s going to lock you in the beauty cupboard for arriving in 100 per cent high street. In fact, with the less-than-glamorous tasks you might be given – emptying bins, doing returns and carrying very heavy £1,000 vases across the capital on the tube (yes, really) – there’s no point ruining your best outfits.
That said, when you’re prepping a suitcase full of Balenciaga and Fendi for a shoot – worth more than your student debt – you do start to appreciate the workmanship of a £2,000 jacket compared to your fraying fast fashion buys.
4. You could make a lot of money from all the things you overhear in the office
Well, magazines are all about great stories. From the fashion stylist who was a diva on a shoot in Machu Picchu, to the blonde supermodel attempting to sue the women’s weekly I was at for allegations of cheating and hilarious tales of an even more famous model’s drug dealer popping by. There was always an abundance of good listening between transcriptions and clippings research.
Most memorable line? “When I’m editor next…”