FT Special Reports by Rebeka Shaid

Thursday 29 September 2011

I had walked past the rather grand FT building many times, wondering what was going on behind the dark tinted glass windows. So when I arrived for my first day as an intern with the Special Reports desk, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had heard good and bad things about internships at big, international newspapers so I was, admittedly, a bit of a nervous wreck as I was waiting in the reception area. In fact, I felt like a lost sheep. But the moment I was met by the lovely editorial assistant who herded me and another intern through the maze-like corridors, showing us the various busy and buzzing desks, I completely forgot about my worries.

After this little sightseeing tour of the offices, I then embarked on a quite intense training session, which gave me a fascinating insight to Methode 4, the FT’s content management system. And once my lunch break was over, I finally got to sit with the Special Reports team on the second floor. Everybody I met there was very welcoming and the first task I was given basically consisted of editing, fact checking and proofreading one of the ‘Women at the Top’ blogs. Before I knew it, my first day was already over. Since then I have not only made good use of the coffee and tea facilities, but I’ve also gained a real understanding of what life at the FT is really like. Attending the daily conference meetings is certainly a highlight as you get to witness the editors discussing big stories in the making. Oh, and being given an FT email address is also a big plus - it gives you a strange feeling of empowerment!

It’s still early days for me, but the one thing I have noticed right from the beginning of my internship is that interns here are treated as members of the team. You can expect to be given real responsibility and your work load is likely to vary from day to day. For instance, I would spend one day researching enterprise zones and tax breaks, another contacting and calling up entrepreneurs, sending out press requests, chasing up PR officers, editing articles, or working on the ‘Women at the Top’ blog. At the moment I am managing the production of various interactive graphics that are going to be put up online shortly, so liaising with design editors and picture editors is really important. It’s also really exciting that I get to write short introductions that are going to be published soon! There are, of course, some less stimulating tasks to be completed, but overall, my experience as an intern at the FT has been really positive. You’re thrown into the deep end and the internship is really what you make of it.

FT Life and Arts by Maria Howard

Monday 19 September 2011

There is no doubt that an internship at the FT gets off to a glamorous start. The first time you walk through the doors of the scary grey building on the Thames you can’t help but feel important. The excitement builds as you are invited to attend the daily conference, given a seat in the hierarchy and nervously shake editor Lionel Barber’s hand.

After your busy first morning you are sent to the 6th floor canteen with a perfect view of London tinged a business grey by the windows and a large selection of food to rival any school dinners.
In the afternoon I was sent to my new home, the Life & Arts desk, that puts out the weekend supplement. Everything is considerably more relaxed than on the busy ground floor where the financial newsroom is dominated by screens showing 24 hour news channels and the air is filled with panic and/or excitement depending on what the stock markets are doing that day.

Soon after my arrival I am handed a copy of the upcoming Lunch with the FT interview and told to come up with some ideas for the ‘lunch box’. Instead of making sandwiches I am being asked to write some headings for a small feature that could accompany an interview with a technologically-savvy Shaolin monk.

I quickly get to work but soon learn that the pace here is more tortoise than hare due to it being a weekly feature-led paper rather than a news-based daily. As someone who up until a few days ago was an unemployed graduate I take this in my stride. Everyone seems busy but not harried and they’ll always have time to answer any questions you may have.

I have spent a lot of time fact-checking which allows me to read all the articles ahead of when they are published. So now I am very knowledgeable about fashion’s top families, the history of New York’s skyscrapers and Michael Moore’s eating habits. All useful stuff I’m sure you will agree.

A highlight of working on the Life & Arts desk is the exciting offerings in the post; glamorous invitations to art and fashion events arrive in expensive envelopes and dozens of shiny new books each to be carefully noted on the forward planning list in case they prove to be feature-worthy. The editors rarely have time to go to all these events so you often end up benefiting and enjoying the odd film screening or glass of wine courtesy of some gallery or fashion house. David Hockney’s press launch at the RA was one such exciting affair with free coffee and croissants and a presentation (some might call it a rant) by the man himself.

It certainly is a great introduction to the world of arts and lifestyle journalism but here is one last tip: it helps to be well-versed in the art of tweeting as the editors are very keen to attract people like you to what might otherwise seem like a very grown-up paper.