FT Special Reports by Snigdha Jain

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Intimidated. That’s what one feels when approaching the Financial Times offices for the first time. It felt surreal. When I got the call to tell me I had been selected for an interview, I did the dance from Madagascar in my living room. When I told people I was going to intern there, they got excited and congratulated me - but still the reality of it didn’t register for some reason.

The official business of signing forms and other paperwork on my first day brought it all home. I was given a tour of the newsroom by a very kind and helpful editorial assistant who showed me where the magic happened. I was star struck; I was on the inside looking out and was clutching my temporary pass for dear life.

This was followed by sitting in on the editorial conference, which I attended every morning at 10.15 am, chaired mostly by Lionel Barber. It was hard to believe I was sitting there with all the top editors of the FT. Their bantering and nit-picking allowed me to see how the paper is put together. It didn’t hurt that the view from the conference room was amazing, with the Thames winding in the background.

So much happened in those two weeks that it’s hard to put it into 500 words. The first day there, after I sat down at my own desk and entered my login and password, I felt gleeful. I was introduced to the warm and friendly Special Reports team who immediately put me at ease. Then when my editor asked me to research and get info on Davos, I was lost, and panic and fear set in. But I’ve learnt these emotions can be powerful motivators. After a few panicky hours, I settled into a routine and felt quite proud of myself for producing said information promptly.

My second day there, I did training on the FT’s editorial software and met two South African journalism students who were there for two weeks as well. Lunch was always great. Meanwhile I got to research, talk to and interact with CEOs who were attending the Davos 2012 forum. Did that make my confidence soar! It also made me very afraid of messing up, but the Special Reports editor’s faith in me helped me to get a grip. I proof read some stories for FT Business Education as well.

Thanks to one of the commissioning editors on Special Reports, I got to meet Lakshmi Mittal, the CEO of ArcelorMittal and other prominent CEOs. I had tea and snacks with them, and had a three-minute conversation with a steel magnate. Now if that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is.