Samuel Jackson: Charleston Magazine
JRNL major Sam Jackson spent his summer in Charleston, SC.
Describe your internship. Where were you and what did you do?
I relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, where I had the privilege of serving as an editorial writing intern for Charleston magazine, a monthly lifestyle/culture publication covering art, dining, fashion, home and garden, Charleston goings-on and more. The internship allowed me to observe and take part in the process of crafting a monthly publication. Editorial interns were given a variety of tasks throughout the summer and often balanced multiple short-term and long-term projects. Chief among our responsibilities were writing the About Town sections of each month's magazine, conducting research for feature articles in upcoming issues, proofreading and editing, fact-checking, archiving past issues, creating and uploading content to the magazine's online event calendar and other miscellaneous tasks like transcribing interviews.
How did you develop this internship? What advice do you have for others?
When I began the process of searching for an internship, one of the first things I considered was what city or town I would want to be in for the summer. After all, this was my last free summer before graduating, so I wanted to make the most of it! I immediately knew I wanted to intern in Charleston, if possible, so I researched magazines and publications in the area and quickly came across Charleston. It seemed like the perfect fit for the kind of experience I was hoping to get out of my internship. I found some information on the magazine's website about the different internship opportunities available and emailed their suggested contact to ask her a couple of clarifying questions and let her know I was interested in the internship. The application process consisted of submitting a résumé, cover letter, and work clips, taking part in a phone interview, and completing a sample writing exercise. Once all that was done, I was ecstatic to have been given the opportunity to join the summer team.
My biggest piece of advice for the search-and-application part of the internship experience is actually something a panelist at Auburn's J-Day said that stuck with me: "Let someone else decide you're not qualified." When looking at job qualification requirements and expectations on internship applications, it can be so easy to psyche yourself out of submitting your name for consideration and decide not to bother at all. I, myself, am incredibly guilty of doing that. But don't talk yourself down from opportunities. Again, let someone else decide you're not qualified. The worst thing anyone can tell you is "no," and you'll never get a "yes" if you're not willing to throw your name into the hat. My other piece of advice is to try to intern outside of Auburn or your hometown if it's financially viable to do so. I didn't have any connections to the office where I worked prior to being selected, and I had no friends or family in the Charleston area going into the summer. I truly was operating under a "leap and the net shall appear" mentality, hoping that I would find a place to live, enjoy my internship, make friends, and learn my way around an unfamiliar place. Coming to college as a freshman is similar to that, but doing it in the "real world" where you can't meet people by joining a club, get your questions about your new home answered at Camp War Eagle, or find out what campus activities are going on just by looking at a campus bulletin board is an altogether new, exciting, sometimes lonely, and completely worthwhile experience.
What are the most important things you learned during the internship—both inside the office and out?
I learned, most importantly, that I could see myself working at a magazine once I graduate. If you learn nothing else from an internship, when your time at whatever company you intern for ends, you should be able to answer if you could see yourself working in that field professionally or not. Both answers are OK; it's just as important an internship let you know you don't enjoy a certain career path as much as you thought as it is finding out you love what you worked on. For myself, I learned that I would love to continue a professional career in the field I interned.
Inside the office, I learned that not every publication uses AP Style (I seriously had to retrain myself to use the Oxford comma this summer!), some days at an office are more exciting than others and interns are not expected to know everything from the first day. I also learned how to juggle multiple tasks through time management better.
Outside the office, I learned that working Monday-Friday in an office doesn't leave as many hours of free time as I would have expected, but I came to understand the importance of using my leisure time well. Counting down the days till the weekend in order to enjoy yourself deprives you of countless hours of fun to be had during the week. There are 168 hours in a week, and only 30 of those take place at your internship. The job is only part of the story of your summer--don't spend the rest of it holed up watching Netflix.
What advice do you have for interns during the internship experience?
This is going to sound trite, but one of the best pieces of advice I've gotten in college is "choose your attitude." That's also the best advice I have for handling yourself in an internship. Your supervisors want interns who are excited to be there and are gung-ho about tasks on the job, so having a good attitude is essential to making a good impression. Just like with anything, there are going to be days when you're tired, cranky, or just want to be in bed (and those emotions are OK!), but you can't let that affect your work. Eagerly volunteer for tasks--never make it seem like you are unwilling to do something that's asked of you. I honestly believe that the way you carry yourself in the office is just as important as the work you're doing when it comes to how your supervisors think of you.
Don't be afraid to ask questions either. As I mentioned earlier, interns aren't expected to know everything from Day One. If something is puzzling to you, ask about it. Obviously it's important to read the room and know when is a good time to ask questions and when isn't, but people were always helpful and willing to answer every question I had. The internship is supposed to be a learning experience, so use it to learn!
Lastly, if you're in an internship that sees you doing different types of tasks, I think it's smart to let your supervisors know when you enjoy certain tasks. This allows them to learn a little bit more about you, gives you a chance to explore some of your strengths, and encourages them to continue giving you similar tasks as your internship goes on.
Is there anything else you want to add?
If you're interning somewhere where there are other interns, get to know them! Knowing them on a more personal level than just asking them to pass the stapler makes a huge difference in how much you enjoy your day-to-day work. I would even encourage you to hang out with your fellow interns outside of work. I made lifelong friends in some of the other interns in my office, and I wouldn't have gotten that experience if I had only ever seen them at work. It can be a little awkward to organize a post-work outing at first, but I promise it's worth it.
Show your personality in the office. You'll come and go with little to no impact on the office if you treat each day like it's a stiff interview. Be yourself--laughing and the occasional off-topic conversation are good! As long as you never veer into unprofessional territory, you'll be a much greater asset to the staff if you're someone they feel comfortable being around.
Take a lunch break! This is one of those things that seems obvious in retrospect, but I learned that no one dismisses you for lunch in an office. Don't go hungry at your desk all day. Whether you go off by yourself to clear your mind before heading back to the office or use the break to eat with your coworkers, a midday breather is an essential part of keeping your productivity levels high, I found.
Last Updated: June 13, 2017