Anna Chambers week on the weekend magazine

Friday 24 April 2009

Each morning I alight at London Bridge Station and enjoy a scenic and historic stroll to where the FT Building squats beside the Thames. On my first day I was rather apprehensive about entering the intimidating black glass façade, but now two weeks into my internship it seems par for the course. Life at the FT is certainly something I could get used to.

My first morning was taken up with the grand sounding ‘tour of the editorial floors’ as promised in my introductory email. All was quiet on the news desk at 9.30am, but I was soon ushered in to the morning news conference for my first taste of the action. Watching senior FT journalists effortlessly hold forth on global affairs was a sobering experience. After a few eager minutes spent trying to grasp the flood of information passing between these journalistic titans, I succumbed to a sense of awe. We interns need some higher goal to help keep things in perspective, and the indelible memory of the FT news conference will surely serve as a beacon as I pursue the trepidatious path of the fledgling journalist.

Since then, I have been cocooned in the relative safety of the magazine. Any anxious visions of being run through a Devil-Wears-Prada-style gauntlet of coffee runs and small humiliations were soon dispelled by the welcoming editors and subs.

My days here consist of a mixture of delegated tasks like fact-checking and proof-reading articles. The rest of the time I spend researching and pitching ideas for regular features like ‘Defining moment’ and ‘The Information’. I’m looking forward to contributing some book reviews to Life & Arts and to visiting the local bookshop to find fitting extracts for ‘That WasThen’. After pitching an idea for first person, I’m hoping to be able to conduct a phone interview soon, and perhaps even be able to road-test some quirky pastimes for the ‘Great Indoors’.

Perhaps the best aspect of life on the magazine is the sheer breadth of subjects I have been introduced to. I can now claim expertise on topics as varied as King Ethlebert of Kent to the future of Artificial Intelligence. Yesterday I was immersed in the wonders of canine literature and the modern realities of piracy on the high seas. If the pace of life here is a little slower than the frenetic dash of the news desk, it is certainly never dull.

This morning I arrived to find a copy of this weekend’s magazine on my desk, with my first article printed in glossy technicolour. As far as my modest experience of internships goes, the FT can’t be faulted for providing a friendly and stimulating environment, with lots of opportunities to secure those sought-after bylines.

An internship in Life & Arts, Helen Waller

Monday 6 April 2009

Before I started my internship at the Financial Times I was both excited and terrified in equal measure. Waiting in reception I saw smart, suited business-types walking in and felt very young and inexperienced. And whilst I was filled with awe during my tour of the vast floors filled with people at their computers, working on important news stories, from the moment I started I have felt comfortable and well looked after.

Being unfamiliar with all things financial, I was happy to be given a placement in the Life & Arts section of the FT Weekend. Here I have carried out a variety of tasks from not only the Life & Arts section, but also House &Home, Arts & Books and Travel. It has been a pleasant surprise that I have only made tea once and have not had to do any photocopying. I still cannot believe that I have been writing copy, which may not exactly be front page stuff but still gives me a great thrill when I see it, along with my name, printed in the paper. I have also done some fact checking, research for articles, and even a telephone interview, which helped me overcome my irrational fear of talking on the phone.

This is a real positive aspect of the internship. Whilst everyone is friendly and makes sure you know where important things are, like the canteen, they do not spoon-feed you and allow you to carry out tasks independently, using your own initiative. This makes excellent practice for the big bad world.

I have also been able to attend editorial meetings, which has been fascinating. I have felt privileged to be able to listen in on planning for articles in upcoming papers and have enjoyed the jovial banter that goes along with these discussions. It has also been incredibly satisfying seeing those same planned articles go through the entire process of being written and edited, laid out on the page and finally appearing in the paper once it has been printed.

I am currently about half way through my month’s placement and am very much looking forward to the next two weeks. Overall I know that after this I will have learnt so much and have grown massively in confidence, which will be extremely beneficial when it comes to getting a job.