Intern blog – Farah Halime

Friday, 14 August 2009

The word “intern” has many connotations, most of them not particularly positive. Some of our columnists have remarked on these attributes that are shared by many – even interns themselves.

But just as the FT is an exception in its spine-chillingly high standard of journalism, so is it an exception for internships. With a string of other media-related placements behind me at various newspapers and broadcasters, I feel I can comment with some legitimacy on the usefulness of this placement.

Having just completed five weeks on the interactive desk, I was able to move from pitching an idea on banking regulation, to researching it (this opened up avenues of communication with FT journalists in our offices in Brussels and New York) and producing it with the help of FT designers. The final product is the result of weeks of collaboration and unlike a news story it can be embedded into various pieces relating to regulation, over and over again.

The interactive desk will stand me in good stead for this alone, but the sense of achievement I have gained from seeing an idea realistically develop into an FT product is enormous. It goes to show that an idea can go a long way at the FT.

I think quite a defining moment came when our Editor, Lionel Barber, picked up on the graphic in his weekly editorial update (where he notes pieces of particular interest). This was a cheer to the interactive team and a sentiment to the hard work we put into it.

The interactive desk is also at the crux of a major part of the organisation: a move towards online journalism. Digital services accounted for 67% of FT Group revenues in 2008, up from 28% in 2000 whilst the emphasis on advertising went down in the same period. It is exciting to be part of a growing phenomenon that is so crucial to modern journalism.

I am now working on the Books/House & Home desk; part of the weekend edition. The emphasis is on lifestyle (high standard, luxurious lifestyles at that) and creative thinking. There is not the pressure of the news desk, but the same benchmark well known to the FT remains. I have been asked to review an as yet unreleased book and I feel a certain privilege in this. If there is something many FT interns have in common, it is that we are given a certain responsibility that is not matched in any other organisation. There is also openness towards new ideas as I have already suggested.

I am currently working on a story I pitched that has allowed me to speak to people in the US, Japan, China and across Europe. Global contact almost goes without saying at the FT but for me it is exciting and introduces me to a wealth of knowledge on different cultures and economies.

Above all, the FT encourages and nurtures the intern who is enthusiastic and eager to learn. As clichéd as it sounds – if you arrive with ideas and a smile, you can achieve what you want!

This isn’t just an internship, this is a Financial Times internship

By Sarah Halls

My preconceptions of work experience were quickly dispelled on entering the FT. During the six weeks that I’ve been interning here, the usual suspects of photocopying, filing and getting the coffee have never featured on my ‘to do’ list.

During my first two weeks I had the task of suggesting new ways to improve the Business Education website. At the end of my placement I had to present my ideas to the Business Education editor, her colleagues and to the Lead Product Manager. Hearing that my ideas- case studies for MBA students to answer amongst other suggestions- were feasible and will be implemented gave me a great sense of satisfaction as I felt I was directly contributing to the team.

My next desk, Consumer Industries, gave me my first by-line. After attending the publication of a report on the restaurant industry I wrote about how it is floundering during the recession. After working to a strict deadline my Consumer Industries correspondent gave me feedback on how to improve it and what could be excluded. What really struck me about this desk was the sense of responsibility I was given from the start. However, if I needed any advice my correspondent was always at hand to guide me.

My current desks are Books and House and Home, which both appear in FT Weekend. I’ve been mainly focusing on the editorial side of things e.g. fact checking the proofs and making book lists for writers to review but at the same time I have been pitching and writing about upcoming events and trends.

Working at the FT is an amazing experience. However, this experience has been trebled since due to the downturn many sectors are facing challenging situations. Depending on your desk, you are at the forefront of all the business, national and international news. Whilst here, I’ve met internationally renowned journalists who are more than willing to offer their advice and have had a real eye-opener into life at a global newspaper. However, the best part of the internship is receiving feedback on my work. Often, criticism is perceived as something negative, but here at the FT I saw it as a constructive invaluable element to my internship that will serve to enhance my skills.

I would say to anyone considering interning here to chuck all your preconceptions you might have about the FT over London Bridge, because this isn’t just an internship, this is a Financial Times internship.

6 weeks in the life of an FT intern – Magda Ali

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A switch of FT desks every 3 weeks is exciting but equally overwhelming. There are no dull admin tasks, photocopying or making cups of coffee – that much every editorial intern knows. But after experiencing your first desk at the FT, you feel a sense of apprehension; is it going to be as good as the last? Will I learn as much? Will they be as nice?

My first three weeks began at the Lex desk where I was filling in for the publisher/ researcher. start, we’d commence with preparing for the morning meeting where the writers would pitch their ideas, and Jo Johnson (head of lex) would give the go ahead. By 12 The Lex writers would have the notes up, ready for me to publish. Best part of Lex? Apart from the fact that starting early means you to finish at 4 and enjoy the sun, I’d learnt absolutely all there is to know about the wonderful world of Methode. (FT’s publishing software). One week into Lex, and I was also assigned my first editorial task to write the weekly “letter from the editor” section of Lex which would go on the FT site. Had a crack at it, enjoyed it and did the letter the next week. So there it was – my first two bylines at the FT.

Then I moved to FT Money. It was there that the real reportage began. I would write about two stories a day, which would go straight into publication – the count soon went from one to twenty, it was there I began to really grasp the fundamentals of finance reporting. My younger brother called me from Switzerland that week, only to tell me I'd been Journalistedand all my articles appeared on google. To think, everything I’d write would be read by FT readers - a phenomenal feeling to say the least.

I have learnt more about the realities of Journalism in my six weeks at the FT than I have 3 years at Journalism school. University assignments are nothing like writing stories for the FT, and seeing the very stories appear on the paper and the site. Working alongside esteemed journalists in itself is an astonishing experience – sharing by lines with the very same journalists – more so. Getting tens of by-lines on the FT is not something a just-turned 21 year old journalist anticipates. I am now half way into this internship and I can honestly say that the experience has surpassed any expectation I had built up. My next desk will be UK Companies; I can only hope that what's left of my time at the FT will be as stimulating.