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?


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