Internship: Books by Christian Halsted

Tuesday 29 June 2010

"Christian, would you mind doing the ‘small talk’ interview tomorrow morning? It’s with Neil Gaiman." "Christian, I have just the perfect book for you to review; can you make it for Wednesday next week?" "Christian, can you get hold of the RHS and ask them about any new initiatives? Oh, and I’ve left two articles on your desk that needs some copying. There is an editorial meeting at 4 if you want to come along." "Christian, can you send me your blog entry before Thursday please?" "Christian, you can go home now. Oh, and thanks a lot!"

I suppose most people wouldn’t believe that editorial interns actually get to do such things. But having read other intern’s blog posts here at, I can confirm that an internship at Financial Times is not about making coffee or copying documents in a dark room behind the kitchenette all day. Some interns have described the job and especially their first week as a whirlwind, some have been overwhelmed and some have even feared being fired before starting. All seem to have enjoyed their time though. And why shouldn’t they? The FT is not only a trendsetting newspaper with a highly respected profile located in the heart of London, it is also a place where people treat each other respectfully and interns are professionally arranged to blend in.

At the FT I’ve been given the opportunity to work side-by-side with respected journalists in one of the world’s most well-known newspapers. Not only do I learn from the people around me, I also get to learn about publishing. This included copy reading, fact checking, researching, writing reviews and interviews as well as assisting editors with administrative work. Being an intern has given me good insight and valuable experience to decide what career I want to pursue.

Life & Arts by Victoria Maw

Monday 21 June 2010

Last night I found myself in a screening room in deepest Soho, at a preview of the new film about Serge Gainsbourg. A lover of all things French, and having a particular penchant for old Gallic popstars (Johnny Halliday, Le Forestier – legends, I tell you), I was in my absolute element. Just one of the little perks of life on the Life & Arts desk.

Passing time surrounded by towers of books, submerged in food and films, and researching holiday destinations is, in my opinion, a good way to spend a weekend. But it appears that this is how some lucky people spend their working weeks.

My life as an intern involves helping the editors with a whole array of different and often weird and wonderful things. My daily tasks - leafing through advance copies of books, carrying out telephone interviews, planning a summer special feature, writing pieces for sidebars, forward planning for future articles - mean that I leave the office each night filled with ideas and inspiration.

I’ve found myself ordering in bottles of wine from British vineyards for photoshoots, quizzing campsite owners on what one might get served for breakfast in a luxury yurt, interviewing German chefs, sprinting across London in search of a book and chatting to Andy McNab about his favourite films.

Despite clearly being fabulous, it is also hard work. Fact-checking exercises are laborious, research needs to be done thoroughly and carefully and the work comes with a high level of responsibility. Thursday, which is press day, can be frantic and I feel under huge pressure to help the team quickly and efficiently. But I am surrounded by interesting people, I feel my contribution is appreciated and I love being a little part of the mechanics of the Weekend FT. They will have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming.

The Best in the Business by Jay Bains

Friday 11 June 2010

Sitting down on a comfy leather sofa, I looked around at the airy atrium. It had been less than a minute since I first entered the Financial Times, and my expectations had already been exceeded.

A meticulous perfectionist, I’d often worried that I’d never find a place of work that meets my pedantic needs. I yearn for dynamism, sophistication, and unmatched excellence, in addition to tolerance, balance, and a reputation for being the very best. Looking out at the Thames from the immaculately kept obsidian building, perched on the south side of Southwark Bridge, I felt at home.

My internship commenced with a grand tour of the building and its various departments. A sea of smiles greeted me from the many desks in the light and spacious newsroom, and continued as we conquered the next few floors. I returned to the first floor for morning conference with Lionel Barber, his team of chief editors, and the Hong Kong office. I watched their composed and captivating analysis of the previous day's paper and in-depth plans for the current day's in an awed silence.

Training in their specialised software and lunch followed. I was then introduced to my team on the UK Companies desk. After being assigned a desk, stationary, passwords and e-mail address, the day was drawing to a close, and it was time to leave.

The next two days were an exciting amalgam of tasks. From searching for imagery on Getty, to sifting through press releases, writing a short article, to forwarding a link to my first published story to everyone I know, it’s been surreal. Comfortable and gratified with my surroundings, applying my taught journalistic skills to real practical situations has been exceptionally rewarding.

This morning I accompanied David Blackwell, twice winner of the Aim Journalist of the Year Award, to a meeting in the Square Mile. David kindly introduced me using my full name and told the company we were meeting with a little about me, giving me confidence and recognition. Unnecessary, yes; I could have blended into the background and watched the meeting in silence. But it’s this subtle attention to detail and bespoke integrity, as exhibited by David, that makes the Financial Times simply the best in the business.

At the beginning of my internship, I thought that working with the Financial Times would give me some guidance as to what route of journalism I would move into, if any. After just four days, it has confirmed that finance journalism is the place to be, and the Financial Times is where I want to be.

Walking back over Southwark Bridge from the meeting, the river splashing beneath me and the wind howling above, I can see the black metropolis of world business standing royally on the other side. Smiling to myself, my grip around my staff-pass tightens, and I quicken my step.

Four weeks in Special Reports by Ian Smith

Thursday 10 June 2010

Well into the fourth week of what was initially to be a two week internship – and having been asked again to stay on for a week further to help out the Lex desk – my experience continues to demonstrate the opportunities available to a Financial Times intern.

Before I arrived, following three months at the New Statesman, I had some doubts about the value of a fortnight internship; not in terms of the amount I could learn, rather the usefulness of my contribution. I was wrong – the amount that the Special Reports team can fit into two weeks is impressive, with tabloid and magazine supplements on subjects from global infrastructure and emerging business to wealth and the “new Brazil” simultaneously rattling through production.

This industriousness, coupled with an utterly welcoming and interesting team, swept me happily along with it. My principle role has been researcher, though I have also been mucking in with other duties such as proof reading reports, captioning photos and editing online copy.

As researcher, I have made countless international phone calls and sent many more emails than I have received replies; corresponded with various international think tanks and analysts; gathered global statistics and databases, promoted our content through social media; and I have written and edited profiles on infrastructure projects and expanding businesses for interactive web graphics.

The scope of the reports has proved for me pedagogic; having no previous business education, I have had to get to grips with areas of finance that are always different. I have been learning as I gather data, informing myself as I chase up press officers and scour websites. The extensions to my stay at the FT have allowed me to follow through my lines of research and given me a deeper understanding of the editorial process, from commissioning to the final tweaks.

I have also had a chance to meet those in the wider FT community; whether on that first day sitting in on the morning conference with the other interns, or the afternoon I spent helping set up cameras for an executive interview. Next week, I move to another team on another floor to experience yet another side of this organisation. Where I’ll be the week after that, who knows?

What a week to begin by Qin Xie

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I had dabbled with the short-lived idea of becoming an accountant before graduating from the University of Bristol in 2008 with a degree in Philosophy and Economics. I then stumbled into a job for about a year and half before realising that really, I should have had the courage of my convictions at 16 to follow my dream of being a journalist. So an NCTJ course and a string of internships later, I have found myself at THE Financial Times feeling a little over my head.

My worry was not that I would be mocked for my journalism skills. This was serious journalism but I was well trained by this point and as an avid reader of newspapers, I thought I knew a thing or two. Rather, my concern was that I would be uncovered as a fraud in comparison to the real economists at the FT. This concern escalated when the tour of the editorial floors took me to the LEX column. As luck would have it, most of the journalists on floor one started around mid-day when news items began to flow in. Nevertheless, I looked at my feet and hurried past.

The Monday morning editorial meeting was certainly very insightful. A cool and composed Lionel Barber addressed the interns before whisking the team into a discussion about the previous weekend’s paper and upcoming news items. I tried not to breathe too loudly as I strained to hear and upon realising that I was not completely oblivious to the reports in the FT, that I still had a chance of holding down the fort, order was restored to my world. And a little smugness.

A comprehensive intern’s guide in hand and passwords at the ready, I was then sent to receive some intensive training in Méthode 4. Four hours later, I emerged bleary eyed but a little wiser to the ways of the FT. Having finally arrived at the Weekend Magazine desk in the late afternoon, where I was to intern for four weeks, I was launched straight into proofreading the copy for features to be printed at the end of the week. All in all, it was a fairly successful day one.

Inevitably I found myself blundering on day two by stumbling into a fully populated LEX section when I took a wrong turn at the stairs. Red faced, I shuffled out quickly thinking that anyone who saw me must have thought “who is this ridiculous impostor?” It was probably all in my head though because by day three I was already interviewing someone for “Meet the maker”. The rest of my week was packed with ideas research for future issues, fact checking, updating @FTweekendmag and proofreading copy.

So that was the hectic brilliance of week one. Now that I’m on the slightly steadier second week and judging by the tales of interns past, it could only get better.