FT Special Reports by Lene Wold

Monday 21 May 2012

When I found the ad for the internship position at the Financial Times, I replied within half an hour because, for once, I was both genuinely interested in the position and absolutely confident that I would fit the job.

And so, one rainy Monday morning, I found myself outside the shining black buildings of the FT desperately trying to regain that bold self-confidence.

I had arrived about 20 minutes early, and spent every one of them knocking back cups of coffee and inhaling a lifetime’s supply of nicotine.

By the time I had to go in to the building, I felt like Gollum – the pale, quivering and unstable character from the Lord of the Rings – determinately gurgling “my preeeecious FT” before entering the front-door, which at that time looked more like the entrance to Mordor than the first steps towards a career.

However, Mordor quickly turned into the land of opportunity again when I met the incredibly welcoming editorial assistant – ready to show me around the office the first hours of the day.

The tour started with a quick stroll around the first floor, before I was given a seat at the morning conference together with the most powerful people in town. This is where the editorial team set the agenda for tomorrow’s news and decides what deserves to go on the pink pages – and into the public’s mind.

The only thing I had in mind after this meeting was hundreds of questions about stocks and shares, and why people like me even dare to go into a place like this.

Finally I was introduced to the Special Reports team on the second floor, which immediately made me feel welcome with some informal banter and chatter.

I soon realised that I would be given as much responsibility as I could handle a fact evidenced when the first task I was charged with was to find and write a story good enough to be published in the next edition of FT’s Wealth supplement.

While ploughing through information on the internet and searching for inspiration for my feature, I was asked to do some research and phone some of the most senior experts within the private equity world.

No time to pick up coffee or be banished to the silent corners of the office – at the FT, the interns are treated like journalists, and there is no sense of hostility.

A significant part of my internship so far has been not so much the things I do, but rather the people I meet. During my first week, several editors have dropped by my desk for a quick chat, a warm cup of coffee or social sushi.

For anyone serious about a career in business journalism, this is certainly the best introduction you could wish for.

FT Life and Arts by Chay Allen

Thursday 10 May 2012

It’s 10:15 on Monday morning and I’m sitting at the Financial Times’ editorial meeting with Lionel Barber and his section chiefs discussing the news agenda for the day: Standard & Poor’s has downgraded eleven Spanish banks, Aung San Suu Kyi has agreed to end a boycott of Parliament, and the Leveson Enquiry is still threatening to damage the Prime Minister’s reputation. Having only been in the building for forty-five minutes, I realise this is far from an ordinary internship.

After a tour of the building, in which my memory of the paper suddenly takes the form of a topography, I’m introduced to my home for the next four weeks on the Arts & Life desk. Managing to maintain my dignity as I’m introduced to the many notable names whose work I have become familiar with over the years, I am struck by the calm and friendliness that pervades the office. The surrounding desks teeming with books, papers and magazines, fencing busied faces performing curious deeds with words, gives me the impression that I’ve stumbled upon my own kind.

The first task I’m charged with is to look after the Twitter feed, making sure that all articles appearing in Life & Arts are given prominence throughout the week. Soon after, the Travel Editor Tom Robbins asks me to dig for information on prestige hotels providing pedal bikes for their guests. Sixty minutes and several phone calls later I have enough material for him to produce a contextual box next to a feature in the coming weekend’s edition.

I soon realise that the calm pervading the office is merely on the surface: while ploughing through reams of book catalogues, phoning film distributors and searching the Googleverse to ascertain the viability of a future feature, I’m given pages of the forthcoming edition to check and correct. No time for idol worship here as my red pen bulldozes a fictive anomaly parading as fact.

You’re given as much responsibility as you can handle, a fact evidenced on Friday when I’m asked to find an interviewee to talk about alternative art galleries open during the Olympic Games. At 6:00 pm I’m writing up an interview I conducted with the Director of the Camden Arts Centre, and have it completed before meeting friends for dinner.

Welcoming, challenging and supportive – this is how I would describe the experience of my first week as an Editorial Intern for Life & Arts. And for anyone serious about a career in arts journalism, this is almost certainly the best introduction you could wish for.