FT Special Reports by Hesham Zakai

Thursday 6 September 2012

Approaching the Financial Times building on the day I would begin my internship was a surprisingly calm experience. All the nerves I had felt in the run-up to my start date had dissipated and were supplanted by excitement and an enthusiasm to do my best. They momentarily returned as I arrived at the entrance and looked up at the imposing building before me, but a calm tour of the floors and a modicum of bureaucracy later I was more ready than I had ever been.

The FT has daily editorial news conferences usually chaired by the editor, Lionel Barber, which is a fantastic experience for aspiring journalists. I was able to witness how the news editors reflect on the issue just published and outline the agenda and key stories for the next edition.

Next, I was taken by an editorial assistant to the Special Reports desk where I would be working. I was welcomed by the editor who introduced me to the team and laid out the basic framework for the internship. I immediately felt at ease and ready for my gentle start – a gentle start which didn’t come. I was asked to read an article and then conceptualise and commission an illustration for it. It was an exciting, if challenging, task and I got to work immediately, brainstorming various directions the illustration could go in and then sourcing illustrators.

At every stage the editor, when needed, gave me direction and the team made me feel welcome and valued.

The days that followed continued in largely the same vein and my tasks ranged from proofreading and fact-checking to researching entrepreneurs and writing an article on investment for one of the FT’s supplements.

As interns, we are assigned an editorial assistant who provides pastoral and administrative support and just generally tries to help us in any way they can.

The whole experience is invaluable, and I would certainly encourage others to apply. If nothing else, the top-floor restaurant has delicious food at low prices, complemented by a great view!


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