My first impression of AARP was the sheer size of it. After walking nervously around a large building on a Washington D.C. block, looking for the AARP entrance, I realized that the entire building was AARP. On my first day, I was brought into an orientation with at least 40 other interns from various departments in the organization; I was the only magazine intern. What makes AARP The Magazine and its sister publication, The Bulletin, unique is that it’s part of the larger interest group AARP, which represents the population over the age of 50. And did I mention that it’s the largest circulation magazine in the United States?
All of my nerves about interning for a magazine that served an age group I knew little about went right out the window after that first day. At AARP The Magazine, I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by editors and writers from impressive backgrounds who were more than happy to show me the ropes. It isn’t uncommon to hear: “Have you also spoken with so-and-so about this? Let me introduce you!” A few weeks in, Bob Love, the editor-in-chief, came into my office space and graciously introduced himself. Not only was everyone in the office excited to welcome me, but every day I feel myself becoming more and more part of the team. It’s always nice to run into someone I’ve worked with while getting coffee and talk about recent news items or upcoming movies. When my birthday came around, a few people in the office got me a piece of cake!
At AARP, I’ve learned that part of the fun of being a writer is taking initiative and diving into topics you don’t know much about. I’ve been encouraged to pitch my own stories with the help of those around the office. So far, I’ve explored California’s right-to-die bills, the love of out-of-home coffee, fast casual restaurants, documenting your life story and common surgical procedures. Every assignment has been a challenge, and every single one has taught me a lot about my writing. I’ve been expertly coached in news writing, headline writing and even how to write a unique table of contents by the various editors on the magazine and Bulletin.
My day-to-day consists of checking in with the various editors for assignments, doing research for their pieces, pitching my own pieces and then writing them. I also read and organize responses from AARP readers, pulling interesting letters to put into the magazine, and writing an analytical report of them overall. Between working with editors, writers, fact-checkers and designers, I’ve gotten to see what goes into magazine production from every angle.
When the summer’s over, I know I’ll be sad to leave AARP The Magazine. I'll miss its staff that's so passionate about the largest-growing population in the United States and the issues they face. When that time comes, I’ll be proud to say that I am passionate about them as well.
Chelsea Cirruzzo is a rising senior at American University, studying public relations and women, gender and sexuality studies. She’s passionate about feminism, digital media and coffee. When she isn’t busy acting as president of Her Campus American and serving as a resident assistant, she can be found exploring Washington D.C. or reading her favorite women’s magazines.