We all have those you-made-it moments. My first one occurred during my internship at Men’s Health. I opened a box I had shipped to the office for an assignment I was working on, and inside were 10 frozen pizzas from Newman’s Own. I only requested one from the brand, so I passed the extras out to coworkers and became the most well-liked person in the office. Why did I think I made it? Because to Newman’s Own, I was the one who could deem their pizzas worthy to the Men’s Health readers.
Internships are full of these little moments. From sitting in on your first editorial meeting to seeing your first byline, these little moments add up to an unbelievable experience. And that was what my experience was like as an intern at Men’s Health.
Men’s Health is the largest men’s interest magazine in the world with 37 editions in 61 countries, and that meant I had a very high reputation to uphold. I didn’t know what to expect on the first day. Would I be running errands so the editors’ lives would be easier? How involved would they let this amateur journalist get into creating the Men’s Health brand? Well apparently, they trusted me a lot, because they threw me right into the mix. I felt I was more of a team member than a lowly intern.
I started my internship writing transcripts of interviews that were hours long. Most of the time, they would only pull one or two sentences as quotes from a 50 page document. Eventually, my editors started handing me more work that began to mirror the job I wanted to have. I was being assigned reader questions to answer, sidebars to future feature stories and workout of the day articles. I never begged for work, to avoid annoying my supervisors, but I never let downtime go to waste. Every free minute I had was spent searching for ideas to pitch. Even when I came up with 20 pitches that were all turned down, I used that rejection to find ideas that were along the lines of what the editors wanted.
I wasn’t handed a map to navigate my internship, but I wasn’t left stranded either. Fitness and health are not my areas of expertise, but that didn’t stop me from asking questions. My editors and other interns were always available to lend a hand, whether it was to explain how an exercise worked, or what a ketogenic diet was. There were even times when an editor wouldn’t know the answer to a fitness question. Even when you work for a magazine that specializes in a certain field, there is so much left to learn. It’s funny because journalists, no matter how smart, don’t actually know that much, which is why we ask so many damn questions.