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.


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