As I wind down my last few weeks as an intern at The New Yorker I'm going back over all that I've learned through my experiences there. Since I'm receiving school credit for my work I had to write a paper summarizing the semester, and below is an edited version of it. I had to take out some parts (perhaps the most interesting parts!) because they don't like you to divulge "trade secrets" and certain information as an intern, so this is a rather vague account of my wonderful time. I am SO thankful I had this opportunity.
Experiences as an Intern at The New Yorker
When I first saw the advertisement saying that one of the country’s greatest magazines, The New Yorker, was looking for interns, I jumped at the chance to be a part of such an institution. Six months later as I finish my internship in the Cartoon Department of the magazine I can say that it has been a wonderful experience that I’ve been lucky enough to take part in. What started as menial administrative tasks like any other internship turned into much more.
When I first went in to interview for the position I knew this wouldn’t be like any of the other 3 magazines I had interned at. For starters, the Conde Nast building has such a hustle and bustle of important publishing professionals that just walking in the elevator seems to put you into another element. I met with my soon to be boss and he asked me to take a quick quiz – almost like a “funny test.” I left feeling unconvinced but was happy to get an email a week later offering me the internship.
The first few weeks were mostly basic “intern” type tasks. Opening mail was a big one, since the department receives several hundred submissions from amateur cartoonists hoping to have their artwork printed in the magazine. My job was to go through these many envelopes and be the first set of eyes judging if they were worthy of the editors’ consideration. Those that weren’t had to be sent back in the included envelopes with a small rejection slip thanking the person for their submission and apologizing for not being able to use it.
I enjoyed reading through the slush pile and picking out ones I liked, but it was hard to keep sending rejections to the same people who submitted week after week! I actually had great responsibility in selecting what was good from what was not. Finding autonomy and purpose within simple duties is the key to being a good intern and enjoying the process, in my opinion.
Aside from sorting submissions, filing original art, and sorting through endless piles of photocopied cartoons, another major responsibility of the internship was checking new cartoons against the magazine's library of all previously published cartoons. It’s a really interesting process.
Luckily the internship experience didn’t stick just to these kinds of duties. One of the highlights of my time there was a two day span when my boss was away and asked me to fill in for him. I got to completely step into an editor’s shoes for these days, and it was challenging and exciting. The preparation as an intern was good, but nothing like actually being in the moment.
There was one situation he had forgotten to warn me about, which happened to occur the day that he left. Normally he plays an integral role in the process from cartoon on paper to cartoon on the magazine page, and now it was my chance to take over. Some of the steps involved had never been explained to me, but thankfully other editors were more than willing to help out. The second day I filled in for him was quieter but still gave me insight to other aspects of the cartoon department. Those two days were definitely a turning point. Following that I was able to me more active in other processes.
I was very appreciative for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful publication for a short period of time, and to have it turn into an experience beyond mailing and phone calls was an added bonus. I really enjoyed my internship at The New Yorker and am sure that it has helped me in my quest for a full-time position in publishing in the future.