The really great news is — we're not. Again, we'll get out of the way, and let Megan Cummins, this year's Second Place Winner, tell about her experience as a summer intern at Departures:
I cannot begin to express how much I learned during my internship. It has, quite literally, changed my life. Prior to coming here, my ideas about the magazine industry were based on movies, classwork, and my overly-active imagination. I honestly had no idea what to expect, and countless questions. So, here goes.
First off, I finally understand the chain of command. I never quite understood what each job title entailed. More importantly, the departments themselves. Seeing first hand what each dept. does and how they interact with one another was quite eye-opening. I now know for certain when I start my own Graphic Design firm, a mixture of styles and personalities will be pertinent to its success. I loved watching how people reacted to hearing everyone's opinions and see them make revisions as a result. I also enjoyed getting to experience how stressful it can be when someone might not clearly understand what another dept.'s job is and have certain expectations of them (ie. the photo dept’s ability to make images appear instantaneously). Communication is key.
Another thing I learned was the importance of personality. This one is multi-faceted. I believe those who are in higher positions have the ability to set the tone keeping everyone on eggshells or making them feel comfortable and encourage new ideas. I can see what an impact it makes. I also noticed the need to be able to sell an idea — to pitch a story with enthusiasm so as to get everyone else excited to be working on it with you — to paint a picture in their minds so the photo dept. knows what images they're looking for, and the art dept. knows what style of design to imitate, and so forth. Lastly on the personality bit, I learned that you CAN overcome shyness. Prior to my coming here, I was always rather nervous on the phone- since I tend to sound like my younger brother, but after making calls to businessmen and women across the globe, I somehow forgot to feel uncomfortable and saw it as something that just needed to be done. I also learned the value of creating relationships with individuals over the phone- establishing contacts that are willing to go the extra mile for you when you’re in a bind because they’ve come to know you. Sometimes the key to getting things done on time is having having friendly relationships with the people in the mailroom, or the assistant to a photographer. It always pays to be nice.
I have also learned the value of time and efficiency. I can honestly say I now understand what is meant when you say "a New York minute". 1 NY min = 10 southern min. When I was able to work in the Art Dept., I quickly picked up on the fact that not only does your work have to be great, but you have to be able to produce dozens of ideas in hardly any time. You also can't put too much heart into it, because critiques can be brutal!
I'm struggling to express just how much this internship has taught me. From little things like the mysterious "editor-in-chief" or how to politely call someone for the 13th time about a contract or W9, to tagging along on a photo shoot or watching ideas evolve and move from each dept until they're finally put into print... It would take pages to fully relate what all I learned.
I love that the magazine was like a small family. I was able to go on a photo shoot, watch the images get edited, see how the art department laid out the spread, learn the details of crediting and research — basically every aspect of the magazine. I never expected to be so immersed in the production and get such a thorough understanding of the inner-workings of the industry. I witnessed an entire issue come to life! It was terribly exciting and has woken me up to the real world. I learned the pros and the cons of the industry. I can appreciate it so much more. Regardless of the industry I end up in, the mechanics behind the magazine — the teamwork, the business personalities, the production, the mixture of the creative and technical skills — are all things that I know will have a direct influence on my business, and whatever job I may have prior to that. I now know what aspects of my portfolio to focus on when I return to school and what direction I'd like to go after graduation — things I was terrified of at the start of the summer. I cannot thank you enough for this internship. I cannot express what an impact it has had on my life. Everything I learned will continue to pay off for the rest of my career and will shape and influence everything I do in the design world.
So, there you have it. A rambling overview of what I learned. Please know that however cliche it made have sounded, I sincerely mean every word of it. I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity. It was everything I had imagined and more. I will never forget sitting at a little restaurant with my family in Memphis and getting the greatest phone call of my life.