Journalism student takes on the Big Apple

Feature written by Baileigh Johnson

I began my studies with Nicholson as a sophomore at UCF, and gained my first internship with a magazine the summer before entering my junior year. Just as a reporter gets an adrenaline rush from the chaos of a newsroom, I am completely fueled by the way the magazine industry reports the things of this world.

In January 2012, I sent out 52 packets along with 30-something emails including my resume, cover letter, and samples of my work to any (and every) address of a publication in New York City I could get my hands on. I included links to my blog on WordPress, Twitter and LinkedIn profile. By the beginning of March, I had heard back from 13 different publications, and had accepted a position as a fashion closet intern at Marie Claire magazine. 


The experiences I gained, the connections I made, the things I saw and the things I learned from this internship at Marie Claire are irreplaceable. They have forever changed the journalist I was and the journalist I now want to become.

On my third day working for Marie Claire, I moved from the fashion closet to being an editor’s assistant for Ashley Afriyie, Nina Garcia’s right-hand woman. There were the notorious coffee runs, the occasional Devil Wears Prada glances, the fetching of this and the running to get that. There were also opportunities to edit a photo shoot’s storyboard, create a trend-report of my own taste, visit the set of “Project Runway” and understand just how a national journalism publication comes together.

From my experience, I have a few tips:

  • Local experience is VITAL: Gaining skills locally, and in general, will create a clear separation between the interns with previous experience and the interns with none. I wasn’t afraid to take on more responsibility as previous experiences helped me prove to myself I could handle it, and my eagerness was rewarded. But more than that, my experience earned me more respect. Magazine editors live hectic lives and by not having to take the time to explain basic journalism internship concepts to me, I saved them valuable time and effort they could then use to pour back into the magazine.
  • Brand yourself: As you begin to gain more local experience, take notice in what it is about journalism you really love and narrow it down to one or two concepts. Once you gain a few clips in that field, take things viral. Start a blog that not only links to those bylines, but also features other topics in that subject field you find interesting. Share your work on every platform out there: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram. Nothing is off limits.
  • Use your resources: We have just about every resource available to give us access to almost any information we could possibly want. That being said, it’s not that difficult to find an email address of a potential employer that is out-of-state. Start with the big schools in the state and see if they have a page dedicated to helping their students find opportunities in the area.
  • Research: Of those 13 publications that I spoke with, including Marie Claire, my interviews not only required me to talk about myself, but the publication as well. Editors need to be reassured that you will contribute to them just as much as you will gain from them. Familiarize yourself with topics the publication writes about. Make your interviewer believe that giving you a shot out of the hundreds of other applicants is the right option.
  • Stand Out: If you land your dream internship, the competition has just started. The key to standing out? The word “yes” and a smile. Willingness to do any task, no matter how big or how small, will take you far, and if you do the tasks you’re given willingly and well, you should begin to see your responsibility load increasing.


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