Become A Magazine Intern

Getting an internship at your dream magazine can be hard, but it’s not impossible.

Ever dreamed of being behind the scenes at your favorite magazine? Well there’s no better time to break into the magazine industry than in college with an internship. An internship will give you a chance to meet the editors that hire, learn the ins and outs of the industry, and decide if working on deadlines is right for you. Follow these tips to landing your first magazine internship.


Become a Magazine Intern

1. In order to become a magazine intern, you must first get the appropriate experience. It’s important to note that these often unpaid internships are very competitive and previous, related experience is required to put you a step-ahead of the competition. To secure an internship in editorial, fashion or design, you should first sign up to work for or volunteer at your university’s newspaper or magazine. If your university has multiple publications to choose from, apply for those that interest you or closely resemble a magazine you would like to work for. While some campuses have multiple publications if only one is available, apply for a section that resembles your favorite magazine to start honing a specialization or niche. Also check around for alumni newsletters which typically hire student writers and interns. If those are not available, contact your local newspaper to see if you can serve as a teen columnist, apprentice, or intern.

2. After getting some publication experience as mentioned in step one, and maybe even a few articles or samples, compile your resume with the help of your university’s career services department, a resume writer, career counselor, or professor. Be sure to put as much relevant experience on the resume as possible, trying to avoid past experience that is unrelated to the internship you’re seeking. However, feel free to list leadership experience on campus or in the community and major honors and awards.

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3. The next step, and probably one of the most important one, is writing a cover letter. While a standard three-paragraph cover letter is important, it’s also important to have your cover letter reflect the style of the magazine you’re applying for and show that you understand the publication’s voice, ideas, and purpose. It’s also a good idea to reference a favorite writer or article recently published in the magazine to show you are a regular reader. Be sure to include what section you’re interested in working in, such as fashion, editorial, or design, and why you love the publication.

4. In addition to preparing a cover letter and resume, you may also need to prepare samples of your work. Whether you’re a photographer, designer or a writer, having samples of your work that have been published on campus or locally is a big help. If you have multiple clips or examples of your work, create a portfolio to take on your internship interview.

5. Before sending out your materials, know that timing is also important. For the fall semester, apply between June and August. For the spring, apply between October and December. For summer internships, some magazines require you apply as early as November, such as the Time Inc., Editorial Internship Program, and the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Internship Program. However, some magazines will accept applications for interns until April or May, maybe even June if some interns drop out before their start date. Check with individual magazines well in advance to ensure you do not miss their application deadlines.

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6. Now that you have all of your materials ready, you must send them out to be considered for internships. The tricky part, however, is finding contact information for the editors and knowing where to send your internship inquiries. For national magazines, most are owned by major companies and follow typical email formats and have published addresses online. Others, which could be regional or niche publications, usually require a visit to their Web site, a phone call, or a hard-copy to pinpoint the exact contact method for inquiries. You should usually send your information for internships to an assistant in your desired department or the managing editor. First-timers should apply for 10-15 magazines. If you do not hear back from any magazines within two weeks, send follow -up emails to the editors you originally applied to, reiterating your experience and interest and attach your materials again. For each magazine that you do not get a response to, apply to one or two more magazines.

7. If you are called in for an interview, have your portfolio and resume ready. Some internships, mostly those located in New York, will only do a phone interview with interns if you attend school or live in another state. If you are fortunate enough to attend an interview in person, dress appropriately for the publication. While usually suits are avoided unless you’re interviewing for a business magazine, using your discretion about what a staff member of a particular magazine might wear is important. During your interview, you will also need to produce a letter or assurance you will receive course credit if the internship is unpaid and for college credit only. While very few national magazine internships are for pay, you may also still need to prove that you are enrolled in college.

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8. After your interview, choose a stylish card, which most likely shows the style and personality of the magazine, and send the editor you interviewed with a handwritten thank-you note. Afterward, wait a week and follow-up with the editor via email or phone.