Weekly Lunches: Learning How to Be a Professional Intern from Esquire
Updated: Aug 8, 2019
By: Natasha Roy, intern at Inc.
I’ve never felt more seen than when Esquire’s lifestyle and culture director Kevin Sintumuang told us he used to feel like a professional intern. Just minutes earlier, I’d had slight anxiety about walking into an esteemed magazine’s office, but Sintumuang immediately put us at ease.
He gave us frank recommendations about how to be a pro intern — ask for things to do, get to know people and write thank you cards at the end of the internship. But there were two pieces of advice that were unique: come up with five story ideas every day, and keep a diary.
Coming up with five story ideas every day keeps you more proactive, Sintumuang explained. It keeps you more in-tune with your publication’s voice, and it also helps keep your brain motivated. He said most of the pitches likely won’t be published, but it keeps you fresh and it makes you better at pitching.
I found Sintumuang’s second piece of advice to be the most intriguing. While he interned at Condé Nast, he kept a diary every single day. It was a fantastic log of everything he learned — and, on a practical level, he could refer back to it when writing cover letters and resumes. Needless to say, my journal was dusted off and opened that day.
We also met Eric Sullivan, a senior editor at Esquire. He talked to us about joining the magazine industry when he was in his later 20s, after studying neuroscience with the intent of becoming a doctor. He started out as the assistant editor to the editor-in-chief of GQ Magazine, later becoming the grooming editor. His goal, though, was to be a features editor.
Sullivan told us it’s imperative to literally never say no to anything. He established his desire to become a features editor early on with the editor-in-chief of GQ, and eventually, he worked his way up to editing some of their features stories before joining Hearst Magazines.
Sullivan also talked to us about what it takes to write an Esquire story. It’s more important to think about why a story fits a publication in this moment. All things considered, if it’s “a great fuckin’ idea and a great fuckin’ writer,” it’ll work.