FT Life & Arts by Fernando Augusto Pacheco

Thursday 26 May 2011

Being an avid reader of the FT Weekend, I was incredibly happy to get an internship for my favourite section of the paper, Life & Arts.I’ve done some internships before, but I have to say, I felt a little bit anxious on my first day, as I never worked in an office with so many people, and well, it’s the FT. But the anxiety was over right at the beginning when lovely Farhana introduced me to everyone and showed me around the office and after that I had an induction on the internal computer system with Yasmin, which was really helpful.When I arrived, everybody was so busy, it was deadline and after 2 bank holidays in a row, this came as no surprise, but everybody was really nice to me and I didn’t feel intimidated at all.On my first week, I had several tasks, from research to fact-checking, which I actually quite liked doing. I also tried to keep updated about new events to update the list of upcoming events, from fashion weeks to book fairs around the world. The first thing I did every morning is to ‘tweet’ the main Arts stories of the day. A press view of the new Ai Weiwei exhibition at Somerset House was part of my duties too. I’ve also had the chance to write an assignment for the travel page.My first week was very good, and I’m sure the rest of my internship will be too.

FT's Books/House & Home By Daniel Eltringham.

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Arriving at the FT’s monolithic offices overlooking the Thames on the Tuesday morning, I was a little nervous (I think it was all the black-tinted glass), but Editorial Assistant Carly swiftly put me at my ease. Three hours of technical training followed a tour of the office, leaving me desperately memorising keyboard shortcuts.

I was to shuttle between the Books and House and Home desks upstairs at the FT. Both teams were welcoming and took the time to ask about me, despite a shorter than normal press deadline: there were two bank holidays in my first week, the second because William and Kate were getting married on the Friday. Consequently, I was told, we only had three days to do everything that normally takes five. Better get on with it then.

My first proper job was to read over the draft of the Books section destined for next weekend’s supplement, checking it for errors and accuracy, as well as more sentence-level suggestions. That my comments were received as sensible was an initial relief, and it was genuinely gratifying that I was being taken seriously in what were my first couple of hours in the office. Fact-checking is an important part of the job – I found myself on the phone to an estate agent in Detroit for over half an hour, trawling databases for apparently non-existent properties in the name of factual correctness.

Later I fell into conversation with House and Home about artistic couples who have lived opposite one another, and the various things this could mean for their relationship and the nature of creativity. I ended up, sort of accidentally, with the task of researching the feasibility of the idea; an exciting sort of freedom for someone only on their second day, and there’s the promise of writing a short book review on the hopefully not-too-distant horizon.

This is my first experience of life as an intern, and so far what I’ve seen and done belie the clichés of menial tasks and little involvement that are often rumoured to be the intern’s lot: as yet, I haven’t been asked to make the tea.