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© 2019, all rights reserved. For more information, visit the American Society of Magazine Editors.

Jake Bittle

Architectural Record, BNP Media 
Lutz, FL | University of Chicago

   Architectural Record is a magazine with a full-time staff of nine editors. It is owned not by Hearst or TimeInc but by a small media company headquartered in Troy, MI that also owns drilling and roofing magazines. I am the first ASME intern, or intern of any kind, that the magazine has had in recent memory. It also happens to be 125 years old, among the fifty oldest magazines in the country. The editorial staff is about half former architects and about half former magazine editors from magazines like SPIN, Newsweek—in short, not architecture magazines.

   This is all to say that my experience as an ASME intern was probably a little different from those of my peers. I heard nothing about branded content, content verticals, Snapchat Discover, or anything like that during the course of my internship, nor, when I first got there in the last week of May, did anyone particularly know what to do with me—there was no intern coordinator, no one assigned to be my immediate “boss,” and no set plan for what projects I would take on. But all this meant both that there was no limit on what I could do, who I could help, where I could make myself useful, and also that I got to interface in a deep way with both the magazine’s website (not, I admit, at the cutting edge of online journalism, but still the home of a lot of really, really good architecture-related news) and with both the textual and graphic components of the (very gorgeous) print product.

   For the first few weeks I basically just bothered each editor one by one until they each gave me things to do, oftentimes very different things: by the end of the summer I was posting on social media, writing calendar blurbs, news stories for the website, and one project story for print (!), getting photo permissions, picking out photos for articles, searching for old stories in the 125-year magazine archive (not digitized), sorting contest submissions, fact-checking stories at the last minute, and that’s in addition to a massive project I took on with another part-time editorial assistant: making a list of the 125 best buildings of the past 125 years.

“Jake was born in Rhode Island but grew up an hour outside of Tampa. In addition to being a student, he’s the editor in chief of the South Side Weekly, an independent news- magazine that covers arts and politics on the South Side of Chicago. He is a Canadian citizen.” 

Doing not just so many different things but so many different kinds of things made for a summer that was as exciting as it was rewarding, and I really mean that: there was no telling what I would do from one given day to the next, and I’m sure that no matter what kind of career I pursue, at least one of the skills I developed this summer will show up down the line. Even if I don’t end up writing about architecture (which I also learned how to do, through trial and error), being so intimate with the production of such a thoughtful magazine was an experience that confirmed up-close and personal my belief that I belong in this industry.