Written by Monica Mercuri on Aug. 11th, 2017
Since I started my internship in New York as an Editorial Intern in May (now, a Beauty and Fashion Freelancer) for StyleCaster, an online magazine focused on beauty, fashion, and lifestyle, I have had TONS of requests from people asking for advice on how to land similar internships in the city.
Last week, I also sat down with the deputy editor of StyleCaster, where I received more advice on how to set myself apart from other applicants in the future. First, I will explain a little bit about my experience at StyleCaster, and then go into some helpful tips about how you can spice up your resume and what experience you need to stand out amongst the crowd.
When I first walked into the StyleCaster pod, I really didn’t know what to expect. I probably shouldn’t have watched the movie The Devil Wears Prada before going into it, but I have to say that I am scarily similar to Andy—except for the fact that all of the people I worked with were absolutely amazing. Before StyleCaster, I was doing mainly newsy writing, features, and politics related things in D.C. So, it’s safe to say that this internship was far beyond my comfort zone. When I started to apply for internships in February/March, I looked for places where I thought I would be consistently challenged, forced to learn a new place (in this case, NYC and the subway system), learn a whole lot, and have fun, of course.
StyleCaster did all of this for me. I got to attend incredible events, interview celebrities, meet a diverse range of people, try an insane amount of beauty products, get lost in New York City a couple times, have over 20+ bylines and write daily news posts, and improve my writing tremendously under really talented editors who have written for Marie Claire, Glamour, and Refinery29, to name just a few. From when I walked into the office at 9:45am until I left at 6pm, I was constantly working, writing, copy editing, building slideshows, transcribing, sizing photos, organizing the beauty closet, and more. Of course, it was stressful at times, but all magazines are when you’re strictly under deadlines and people are relying on your work to be completed. But most importantly, the constant pressure forced me to prioritize, strategize, and multi-task. In three months, I learned so much about beauty products, fashion, writing creatively, copy for magazine, WordPress, photoshop, and so much more that I am positive, will help me in the future with internship and job opportunities.
Below, I listed some tips that I recommend you follow if you want to land a magazine or editorial internship, or even an internship that has nothing to do with publishing. If you have any questions about specific internships, resume questions, or any other questions about my experience, feel free to contact me at monandmore.blog! 🙂
1. Prior Writing & Editorial Experience
Whether you are writing for a school newspaper, online websites, or a blog, employers want to see that you are actively writing and are working as part of a team. You don’t have to have internships at big magazines like Cosmo, Elle, and Teen Vogue just yet to land your first editorial internship, but employers want to see that you are making an effort writing for some type of publication. I would also highly recommend getting leadership positions within the publications you are writing for to better your chances, like an editor or editor-in-chief position for your school newspaper. For publications like these, it is crucial to work with others in a fast pace environment and multi-task constantly, so if you show employers that you have already being doing that, it’s a huge plus.
2. Polished Resume
Resume’s are extremely important. But, most employers will only spend 6 seconds looking at your resume, according to this article published by Time Magazine. Crazy, right? I would recommend going to your school’s career center and reviewing your resume with some career coaches. I work for the career center at my University, and they are so helpful! I have attended so many sessions related to resume building, writing cover letters, navigating LinkedIn, and more. Take advantage of all of the resources your school has to offer. Here are some resume tips that I have learned throughout the process:
- Add style to your resume. This is something my StyleCaster editor told me and it really stuck. Add a splash of color to your name, add some designs on the sides, a border. Obviously, not distracting the employer, but just enough for them to remember you and catch your style at a glance.
- Don’t overdo it. You really should have two to three bullet points for each work position that you have held. People don’t have the time to read your eight bullet pointed list of what you have done for each profession.
- Establish a professional writing tone. Edit edit edit your work! You absolutely do not want any typos on your resume. Personally, I will re-write a sentence 20+ times until I really feel like it’s good enough. Take your time, don’t rush!
- Have someone read it over. Usually when I write something and spend a million hours on it, I always fail to miss small errors. That’s why I recommend sending your resume to one of your friends, your parents, a mentor, or professor to check it over.
3. Have a Passion for What You Are Doing/Applying for
Editorial internships are a lot of work, especially in the fashion and beauty industry. Also, you probably won’t be paid for what you are doing so it is important that you like it and want to do it for yourself. Sure, there are great perks like the free stuff and events you get to attend and celebs you get to meet, but that’s the treat. The hard work is the long hours you put in to make sure your part of the site continues to be up and functioning!
3. Start Early
In this industry, you are most likely going to work from the bottom up. And that’s okay. When you are applying for internships, start early. Most employers will post two to three months before the position will start. For summer internships, I recommend even starting in February. You definitely do not want to start in late March/April because many of the internships begin in May, and it will be too late.
4. Don’t Over Apply
I looked at applying to internships almost like a college application. If you apply to 20 internships, while it is good to diversify your options, it can honestly be a waste of time. Prioritize the internships you want. If this is your first internship and you are applying to intern at Harpers Bazaar, chances are, you probably won’t get it. Center your applications around smaller magazines and publications to build experience. You can still send in the application to Harpers Bazaar to show that you are interested and use it for the next time you apply—but don’t worry if they don’t respond just yet.
5. If You Get a Follow Up, Make Sure You Nail the Edit Test
Great! You sent in your resume and got a call back! Now, the employer sends you an edit test. If you have never completed an edit test before, initially, it can be very scary. Don’t panic. The first thing you should do is glance over the test, and then go to the publication’s website or pick up their magazine and study study study their style. What kind of stories do they write? What is their tone? Go through all of their beats and read tons of articles. You really want to familiarize yourself with the publication as much as you can. This will be extremely helpful if you get the position. If they ask you to send sample pitches, search through the archives and make sure you don’t pitch something that has recently been covered. Be creative with your pitches and continuously ask yourself, “Is this something you would see on their website or when you open up a magazine?” After you finish the edit test, similar to the resume, send it out to family, friends, and professors to re-read it. I am pretty sure I sent my edit test to my mom, three of my college roommates, and my best friends. And guess what, they found grammatical errors I would have never seen and gave me incredible suggestions on what works and what doesn’t. If you get an interview, make sure to be genuine, knowledgable, positive, and always ask questions at the end!
6. Don’t Underestimate Yourself.
Believe me, I know how easy it is to put yourself down in the process and feel like you are not good enough for some positions. Take chances! The fact that you are applying for these positions already gives you a better chance if you don’t get it the first time. Be motivated and stay strong; And I promise that while you may not get your dream internship the first time, all of those unpaid internships will lead to that amazing paid internship or first job. You got this!