Magazine Interning: Getting in the Door

I’m not sure if I’ve written about this, I know I’ve mentioned it and spoken about being a magazine girl, but have I actually gone into what it takes to be an intern at a magazine? I started out my career as an unpaid cretin doing anything and everything asked of me (the amount of times I went to the post office!). The magazine I work for now is very different to the magazine I started at. But, as I’m currently doing a search for a new features intern, here are some words that the wise will listen to.

As I started writing this, I realised it’s a multi-blog post story. Here’s Chapter 1. Parts 2 and whatever to follow when, er, some day.

The Most Important Thing

If you’re applying to a position – any kind really, but specifically writing – and there’s a spelling or gross grammatical error in the application, you won’t get emailed back. I know it sounds harsh, but not checking your letters with spellcheck as well as reading through it again (or getting someone else to read it!) makes it look like you don’t care and/or that you’re lazy.

The CV & Cover Letter

Really, truly a CV should be 1-2 pages MAX. Don’t put your matric grades, don’t even put your college grades. Keep in short, simple at to-the-point. If you have previous work experience, explain it in three sentences per job max. If you’re fresh out of varsity/just starting out and your CV is longer than a page, you’re doing it wrong. It’s not a case of the longer your CV, the more impressive it is. Basically what I, and I think most people, would be looking for is: did you get a tertiary qualification in a relevant field. That’s it.

As for your cover letters, a generic cover letter can be spotted on opening. Don’t ever just go for generic.  If there’s a job ad, make sure your letter is tailored to mention what the ad asked for. If you’re applying without an ad, make sure you get across that you know about the company, its values and its mission. Your cover letter is your first impression. Make it count.

The Interview

Here’s one thing to keep in mind: the interviewer is not out to get you, trip you up or trick you. Everyone has sat in the hot seat, everyone who interviews has been the interviewee. It’s ok to be nervous, it’s ok to be anxious. If you need a moment or two to collect your thoughts before you answer a question, take it. If you blank, don’t panic. I’ve had more than one girl blank in an interview and I didn’t penalise them for it at all. Very rarely is there a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ answer to a question. Answer honestly.

Do prep work before the interview. There’s the stock standard questions (strengths and weaknesses) but also be sure you know the brand you’re interviewing for as they’re likely to ask you brand-specific questions to see if you really are interested in working for them as opposed to just anyone. I’ve been known to throw curve-ball questions.

That concludes part one for now. Oh, if you want to intern as a features writer at the best magazine around (seventeen), email I’m currently looking for someone to start in Dec/Jan to work 4-6 months full-time. Unpaid position, but you’ll write more than you ever have.

Part 2 is here.


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