Frequently asked questions
What do you wish you knew before you started your internship?
“I wish I knew how to use InCopy. When you receive your placement, ask your supervisor what software you will be using throughout the summer. Take an hour, watch some YouTube videos, and go into your internship with an understanding of the basics.” -Rebecca Rakowitz
“That it’s OK to wear sneakers on the subway and change into nice shoes at the office. That would have saved me lots of blisters the first week!” -Emily Cieslak
“I wish I knew that interning for a legacy publication isn’t glamorous. A lot of people in the field say “every day is different.” I didn’t experience that. I wish I knew that I would be doing the same thing, all day every day, and that’s not a signal of a bad internship. I wish I knew not to compare my experience to that of my friends or roommates. And I wish I knew that I really didn’t have to dress so formal every day.” -Sarah Madaus
“I wish I would have realized that the people who were in my magazine were friendly and wanted to help me. During orientation, ASME encourages you to reach out and network with people in the city/in your office, which I did — just a little later than I wanted. It is important to realize the people who you look up to were once YOU and they WANT to help you achieve your dreams. They know how difficult it is.” -Marissa Vonesh
“I realize how important it is in a newsroom that focuses on news analysis to be knowledgeable about several topics — knowing your beat is the best way to go. I wish I had familiarized myself with a few master themes (i.e. themes that can be applied when interpreting most stories; race and identity is a good one) that I connected with earlier, so I can use that knowledge to inform unique perspectives and opinions earlier in my internship.” - Haidee Chu
“That balancing the office work with ASME duties (weekly lunches) is more of a challenge than I expected, and it's important to keep a calendar I check every day.” -Melania Hidalgo
What was your favorite part about living in NYC/D.C.?
“My favorite part about living in NYC is that I'm never bored. There is always something to do and see (and to eat), and the energy is incredible.” -Madeline Purdue
“I’ve wanted to live in New York since I was little, and the thrill of walking on streets that have inspired music, art, and novels never got old. Also, my favorite hobby is people watching, and I’m convinced New York is the best city for that.” -Cathy Perloff
“I loved living in NYC because the world was at my fingertips! There is always something to do, see, or eat, and I loved the idea that there was always something to cure my boredom. This city energized me. Everyone is here for a reason; they have something they want to accomplish. Being in the midst of such a successful, ambitious population had me continually pushing myself to reach my goals and strive to be better.” -Sarah Madaus
“Life in NYC can be so glamorous (most of the time) that it’s hard to pinpoint just one aspect of it that could be my favorite. But if I had to choose, it would be the ease of being able to duck into a park and escape the feeling of being trapped by concrete! While all the conveniences and bustle of New York make it the city it is, it’s comforting to sit on a bench along a tree-lined path and just be surrounded by nature every now and then. Central Park is, of course, a must-visit, but even Washington Square Park, in easy walking distance from the NYU dorms, can offer a much-needed breath of fresh air away from the concrete jungle!” -Sutton Travis
“THE FOOD. With the exception of good, cheap Mexican food (New York does not compare to the West Coast in that respect), New York City has so much to offer in terms of food. I am a convert to Shake Shack, and I willingly concede it’s better than In N Out. My other recommendations: Dig Inn, CAVA, Kobeyaki, Max Brenner, Chopt, Tarallucci e Vino, Milk Bar, and this one restaurant in Chinatown that sells only different flavors of rice pudding.”
“NYC is the best. There is SO much going on all the time—in the media world and otherwise. There are so many opportunities to meet with people who have jobs you aspire to have. It was awesome to be able to ask people to coffee or lunch and actually get responses. I was able to learn a lot that way. NYC more generally is just so energetic. It’s electric. Even when it’s 98 percent humidity and the RealFeel is 102 degrees. You can always count on Smorgasburg being packed, a concert going on somewhere, and the presence of hip rooftop bars.” -Hope Tierney
“My favorite part about living in D.C. was the walkability. I was able to explore the city and really get involved with the young adult community here. It was like living in a big city with a small town flair. Plus, everyone is young and ambitious — that energy is contagious.”
“Going to college in NYC and having lived in D.C. this summer, I have had the privilege to get a taste of both. D.C. beat all my expectations. I loved the Friday night jazz in the garden, the $5 margarita happy hours at El Centro, the fact that I could cycle everywhere I wanted to, and the fact that D.C. is intern city.” -Ilya Kneppelhout
“I like that D.C. is a very walkable city, and the Metro is the best public transit I’ve used so far (compared to the NYC subway and the Boston T), but the best part of D.C. is that you can walk into any random restaurant and it will be great. You have to try the Ethiopian food.” -Theresa K. Machemer
How did you feel in your workplace environment?
“I thought I would be an outsider in my workplace because I was working for a health magazine when I knew nothing about the subject and didn't care about what I ate. However, that changed pretty fast when I got there because I learned so much through my research that it made me care and want to be better at eating healthy.” -Madeline Purdue
“Family Circle really has valued me so far as an intern. They try their best to make me feel welcome — it’s the little things like designing me my own email signature that make a difference. I was always learning something new from the staff, and I really have looked up to them all throughout my internship!” -Victoria Merlino
“I don’t know if an office can be more fun and welcoming than The Knot! The open office design makes everyone accessible (even the CEO), and each week there are social hours and coffee chats for bonding. Everyone is happy. How couldn’t you be when writing about weddings and babies?” -Emily Cieslak
“Inc. was so supportive of my ideas. There was no story idea that was “too complex” for an intern. My supervisors didn’t treat me with kid-gloves — I was an employee of the magazine with the responsibility and privileges that come alongside that. People at Inc. are very passionate and serious about the work but at the same time are incredibly friendly and warm, which doesn’t always go hand and hand in newsrooms.” -Cathy Perloff
“I felt very welcome. Everyone was very friendly and willing to kindly correct me when I was still learning the way things worked at Mental Floss. They were very trusting of me and encouraged me to try new things. I shot video for the first time at this internship, and I’m still amazed they had enough confidence in me to hand the camera over.” -Hannah McDonald
What kind of work did you do in your internship?
“I did a mix of writing, research, and administrative assignments. I wrote for our website, planned our main toy testing event (which provides us with information for our toy story in November), transcribed interviews, delivered mail, and helped pack the office for our move. I also attended editorial meetings, desk side meetings, and photoshoots. More advice: When people tell you to write down every single task you’re assigned, listen to them. It makes answering this question and updating your resume that much easier.” -Rebecca Rakowitz
“I did a little bit of everything. My day-to-day work focused on scheduling tweets and Facebook posts, but I also wrote articles while helping research and build stories. Occasionally we would do Facebook Live videos with people in the food and health industry. Food companies love bringing us their yummy snacks to try. Obviously, I ate a lot.”
“Everything under the sun: writing for print and digital media, representing the brand at press events, communicating with PR firms, calling in products, assisting at photo shoots, transcribing interviews, conducting interviews, pitching ideas, researching, working on various teams in a three-part rotation (home, features, social), writing e-comm pieces, utilizing SEO, analyzing stats to determine engagement, hosting desksides with companies. And that’s just a short list.” -Stephanie Harris
“Hoo boy! What didn’t I do? My supervisors always had tasks for me, which was awesome. I spent roughly half of my time writing posts and listicles for RD.com, optimizing posts for SEO keywords, updating old pieces, and pitching new ideas. The other half of the time I spent deep in the Reader’s Digest archives. I spent hours searching through old features that RD could potentially republish on the site and in the magazine. It was so interesting to see how articles from the 1930s could still have total relevance to 2018 — I loved it!”
“After I’d been trained for a week or so on the ins and outs of the CMS by building other writers’ stories, the majority of my work consisted of researching and writing my own articles. While I did pitch (and get to write) a couple of my own ideas, for the most part, my editor sent me a list of stories he wanted to get up on the website and instructed me to get to work! I still occasionally built other writers’ articles or helped with research for other pieces when needed, but largely I just worked on my own assignments throughout the internship.” -Sutton Travis
“All kinds of editorial and digital work, as well as writing. I was basically treated as an editor. I put myself out there and worked my ass off to get this kind of respect, starting with asking my editor if I could take over a piece he was frustrated with. Get after it.” -Sage Marshall
What did you learn this summer that you will take into your professional life?
“I can’t even begin to count all the things I’ve learned this summer! First and foremost, I learned about business reporting, something I’ve never done before, but that I ultimately ended up really enjoying. Everything is a business, and as someone going into journalism to learn about the world, business journalism is an opportunity to learn about everything. Second, I learned so much about fact-checking and vetting private companies, which is invaluable in any kind of journalism. Finally, I learned about living as a young adult in New York City.” -Cathy Perloff
“The lessons I learned were less about improving my craft and more about honing life skills. During my time at Reader’s Digest, I learned how to write positively and vibrantly about topics I wasn’t necessarily that interested in. I learned how to accept every task with a smiling face and how to prioritize my work (all of my tasks were given on a weekly basis). I had two very different supervisors, so I learned how to work with both of their personality types. I learned how to be patient — with computers, old software, and old website quirks. And I learned that attitude is truly everything. One thing I learned about my craft is how to write short. Clearly I’m still honing that skill.” -Sarah Madaus
“I think one of the most important lessons I learned from this summer is the value of flexibility and efficiency. My daily assignments encompassed quite a random range of topics. One day I had an article due on the weirdest urban legend in every state, and the next day was my deadline for a piece evaluating the nation’s worst cities to drive in. *I had to adapt from researching to writing mode and from Excel charts to articles quite rapidly in order to submit every assignment by deadline.* Although it did feel stressful at times to juggle all the tasks, I know that no matter what field I end up working in, those skills will be invaluable in my professional life.” -Sutton Travis
“Too many things to count. I feel like I'm so much more efficient and analytical. I've started to visualize and structure a piece in my head the minute I hear the headline, rather than spend almost three hours trying to perfect it. I'm learning to let go of “perfect.”
“How to feel out situations and act accordingly, whether it was more relaxed or more professional. I learned to say yes to everything — you never know where you might end up. If you have a free slot of time, email others and ask if they need help. It’s always appreciated.” -Hope Tierney
“I learned a lot about myself and about how my background and personal experiences empower perspectives that other people struggle to fathom. I find that my most authentic, insightful pieces are about topics I’ve had personal encounters with. I’ve also learned that mastering small talk can open up opportunities to have meaningful conversations that create lasting friendships and bonds.” -Haidee Chu
How did your previous experiences prepare you for this internship?
“I had an internship at a national newspaper last summer and it helped me prepare for this internship in many ways. One, it taught me how to live in a major city even before coming to New York (that’s more important than you may think). It also prepared me for the pace of the media industry, which I love. Every day is something new and unexpected. Working at my school newspaper also prepared me for both of these internships, as a lot of skills cross over into the magazine industry. I am bringing a lot of information I’ve learned this summer back to my school newspaper to improve our content.” -Madeline Purdue
“Coming from breaking news desks and newspapers in general, my pace was different. I was able to write things quick and dirty to move on to other experiences at the magazine. My past experiences also made me more comfortable navigating the office hierarchy, from picking up on how to ask questions to being straightforward about what I wanted to get my hands on.” -Brooke Henderson
“Thanks to my other internships, I was able to take the reins here the first day I started. I had built up enough confidence and rapport with my editors in the past (they had either mentored me or given me advice) to email and talk to the editors here directly, introducing myself and pitching pieces the minute I arrived. This, in turn, helped me stand out to them and prove my competence early on enough to make them trust me with bigger and better stories.” -Melania Hidalgo
“My previous internship at HerCampus.com prepared me well for digital writing and reporting, which I used every day this summer. My time at Philadelphia magazine taught me how to get by when your work environment isn’t conducive to positivity (hint: listen to podcasts, brighten up your desk, and get up once an hour to remain human). My various journalism classes have prepared me for all different kinds of writing, and since Reader’s Digest is a general interest magazine, I was able to write about a variety of subjects with ease.” -Sarah Madaus
“Right before starting this internship, I had just finished my term as editor in chief of the Tufts Daily. This gave me a good sense of all the process of productions and all the work and people goes into making a publication. Previously, I had interned at regional publications — The Jewish Advocate, Metro Boston and The Chagrin Valley Times — which gave me skills writing quick and professional copy for professional publications. I also got to do some in-depth reporting for these publications and for the Tufts Daily, which perfected my writing and reporting skills.” -Cathy Perloff
“My previous experiences gave me a foundational understanding as to how a publication runs (from concept to creation) as well as the basic skills of researching, reporting, interviewing, writing and editing. This internship, mainly, gave me more insight as to how to pitch, how to adapt to a certain beat, and how to fact-check.” - Marissa Vonesh
What recommendations or advice do you have for future ASME interns?
“You're probably not going to end up where you wanted. That doesn't mean where you'll be won't be what you need. Jump in fast, don't wait to settle in, and use every opportunity to get where you want. There are people interested in helping you that can't because you don't reach out.” -Brooke Henderson
“Try to talk to everyone on your magazine’s staff and really put yourself out there! Learn about what everyone does for the magazine and how you can help, and don’t be afraid to ask to do something if you’re interested. There are people in your magazine rooting for you and who want you to have a great experience.” -Victoria Merlino
“It’s easy to get stressed out trying to be the perfect intern, networking with all the right people and never making a mistake. But at the end of the day, while this is an amazing opportunity, you’re just a human. Think of everyday of your internship as an opportunity to learn, not a test!” -Cathy Perloff
“Complete each task that you’re assigned to the best of your ability, no matter how menial. Also, train yourself to maintain positivity in all circumstances—no matter how frustrated you might be. (I speak from experience—I once was asked to rewrite a piece I had originally been given very little direction on, because the content I’d come up with wasn’t what the editor-in-chief had in mind. After I filed my rewritten version of the piece, the associate editor made a point to tell me how much he appreciated my willingness to roll with the punches with a positive attitude.) Also, as cheesy as it sounds, I think it’s most important to approach your internship with an open mind, ready to learn about and adapt to how that specific publication runs!” -Sutton Travis
“I would highly recommend reading much of the magazine’s content before you start so that you get familiar with their tone and what they write about. It is very important to know the audience of your magazine, too. Only then you can pitch story ideas. Another piece of advice is to ask questions. Show interest in all parts of the magazine and ask many questions – they notice that and appreciate that.” -Ilya Kneppelhout
“Befriend your co-workers and go out with them after work, they have connections and advice that they’ll be happy to share with you if you ask. (And you might wind up at a birthday-party happy-hour at the same tiki bar as another magazine’s going-away happy-hour for an editor who’s moving to the city you attend school in. Networking!) But also, talk about more than just work—you’ll get sick of having the same conversation 3 times a day, and it’s always better to make a genuine connection.” -Theresa K. Machemer