Writing/ Editing/ Communication Internship Panel


Elizabeth Anderson – Editorial Assistant, Marie Claire

Hearst publication – no direct application process. Networked her way into an interview – as a freshman.
Getting an internship at Hearst is about knowing a direct name and networking ones way in.

Conde Nest has "impossible" application process; she was recontacted by Marie Claire and made an offer. Her first summer entailed many administrative duties. The second summer she interned she worked in the Beauty Department, some filing of papers and management of the "beauty closet". Beauty is a very small department. In addition to administrative work, she got to draft copy, conduct an interview, attend press events and interact with press professionals (a big part of the job), call for props, keep up with designing pages, sat in on staff meetings, learned to layout a page. Charity beauty sale – coordinated it – gave away proceeds.

Internship was unpaid, but there were some perks, including free stuff to take home.

She really got to learn about all aspects of the industry. Beauty department is great because it's small. Fashion department is huge, and often interns only work 1-2 days per week and didn't get to know the editors.

• Keep your contacts
• Go back to visit
• Be enthusiastic
• Make friends in other departments and mailroom
• Think about the organization as "one team"
• Closing an issue of the magazine is very intense, and sometimes you will have down time – be able to keep yourself busy
• Be as close to full-time as possible
• Be reliable and helpful

Bret Hovell - World News Tonight/Nightline ABC News, DC

Political Science Major
Worked on World News Tonight & Nightline. Had contact at ABC, which was his entry, but their web site is very open. Wrote directly to someone who sent him a formal application. Nightline had a fairly formal application. WNT was more relaxed. He went through a one day interviewing process. Was offered the intern position at both Nightline & WNT.

The day is "back loaded"; you work from 11-7, and most of the work is at the last minute. Assigned to team with correspondent and 2 producers. Reviewed newspapers for possible stories. Producers would gather pictures, and the correspondents would prepare the script. Brett 's job was to help whoever needed it: the correspondent or the producers. Worked on pre-interviews for correspondents. Producer: "B role" – reviewing pre-shot materials. Editorial room: work with editors on stories. You have about 1.5 hours to get entries readied – "you become an adrenaline junkie". Peter Jennings insists on approving all scripts.

Brett also got to type up sound bites – Timing pieces absolutely crucial! Got to cover press conferences, listen to Ari Fleisher press briefing, go out on lots of interviews, go on field trips. He got to spend time in the studio and watching Peter Jennings do the show – his writers are all writing even when he's on air.

• Never miss an opportunity to introduce yourself to everyone.
• Help with everything – offer to help others if your not busy
• Go back to visit – keep contacts.
• Make sure everyone you work with knows you and your name.

Zuri Rice - Nickelodeon, Miramax, Spike TV , VIACOM

Learned about Spike TV from Career Services Web site– kept in touch with her interviewer, even though not initially offered a position. The persistence in the relationship ultimately paid off. Always try to talk to people.

Spike Development Department: get scripts/pitches for programs – evaluate pitches – make pilot – receive "bibles" – what the program is, promos. Not lots of hierarchy as outsiders review you – "dress well and your treated like an insider."

2nd summer – very laid back application – recruiters look at previous summer's evaluation – if good, you're asked "what do you want to do?" She decided to work on the production side, ending up at Nickelodeon on-air production. Got to work on live program, go on shoots, be on set and help them film. It was really hands-on.

At Miramax – Went to see Meryl Poster speak. Zuri spoke to her and she said, "send your resume" – which she did. Got offered a position in the Development Department. Worked under the assistants. Try to speak to everyone.

Miramax, less hands-on than MTV – got to do lots of administrative work, but also did get to learn a lot about the industry. If you go out of your way to help the assistants, they will go out of their way to help you.

• Make the most of your internships by doing as much as possible and doing many different things.
• Make as many contacts as possible.

Ray Liu - Ketchum Public Relations

Worked on promoting products, media relations, and event planning. P.R. really different from advertising – less control.

www.prfirms.org: will find lots of listings. Call and inquire or apply on line. Ketchum called Ray for a phone interview. Be sure you know yourself and your strengths, show that you've done your research and understand their values, know the industry. Offered position in May. There were 10 other interns, and they earned approx. $250/week. Received some training, was assigned a mentor, and learned about billable hours.

Ray was assigned to corporate accounts, researching (Factiva). In pitching stories, researched the different writers and know who to pitch to. Attended team meetings, prepared press kits, worked on field trips/
special events, Received continuous training – his final project consisted of developing an entire pitch/p.r. program for a particular client, including planning the budget, events, etc. – presented as finalized to client.

• Network like crazy – it's much better than a million letters.
• Focus your resume and cover letter and show that you are really interested.


Q: What should we send if asked for a writing sample?

A: Ray sent in a Daily Pennsylvanian clip, something from a communications class. Actual clips are best.

Q: Any pointers for preparing great applications and interviews?

A: Elizabeth: really tailor your letters to the specific firm or publication. The same holds for interviews. Be able to answer "why do you want to be at _____"? Know the masthead.

Q: Is it better to call or e-mail employers?

A: Bret: E-mail is often read by the interns, calling may be better – don't pester, but calling is not a bad idea.
Zuri: Writing you back may not be what they want to do, so call.

Q: What kind of majors are the networks looking for? Do you have to be a COMM major?

A: Bret: ABC News was not specifically looking for communication majors. Don't ask for specific academic things you've done – more about why you want to work there. Want to know what you like most about the show. Bret didn't have television expertise, had worked in a think tank – internships and entry-level positions are used to teach you to do the next stage. Basically they were looking to find and groom people.

Q: How did Zuri manage two different internships at the same time?

A: Commit yourself to what you will and won't do – and be there and do it! People will remember your failures, so be really reliable and outstanding. Extend yourself very far.

Q: How do you handle phone interviews?

A: Get in the zone. Can have "cliff notes" (including your resume, info about the publication or program, etc). Never click-over or answer another line. Pre-set a time and place, make sure it is comfortable. Smile - people will hear it in your voice. and smile.