FT Special Reports by Judit Szilak

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Andy Sachs was told numerous times that “a million girls would kill for this job”. Though my boss was no devil, either of the Prada-wearing or the regular hooves-and-horns kind, I know exactly how Andy felt.

Stepping through the doors of the Financial Times, armed with my newly minted pass, I couldn’t quite believe my luck that I would get to intern at a globally relevant title like this. Especially as I have an academic background in the humanities, not economics.

On my first day, the editorial assistants had me fill out some forms then we were off to attend the conference. For the next two weeks I got to sit in on the morning conferences every day. I took it so seriously that usually I was the first one to arrive, so much so, that it prompted on of the Editor’s to ask “”Who are you?”

The conference was a marvel in itself. All the editors lined up around the table, and either the editor, the deputy editor, or the managing editor was running the show. He would invariably start by looking at that day’s paper and giving feedback on what he was pleased with or, alternatively, what could have been done better. The screen on the wall showed the FT website and someone would point to the sections under discussion.

Then one by one, the editors would give a short summary of what they are working on that day, while the editor commented or asked for clarifications here or there. I was basically getting the headlines of the next day’s paper, like when breaking news run across the crawlies on television.

After the very first conference, one of the assistants gave me a tour of the FT’s open space offices, complete with running commentary of who did what and when, and how it all appeared in the different editions of the daily paper. I was getting the inside scoop!

Finally we arrived at my destination on the second floor, where I met the lovely Special Reports team, and I was shown to my desk, received my log in details, and, best of all, my very own FT email address. I arrived.

The first job I was given was to research some fun facts about F1 Williams Team owner Sir Frank Williams, and write a bullet-pointed profile on him. The next few days I even got to see the finished copy, because I was asked to fact-check and proof-read it.

I did a vox pop about risk management, asking CEOs of British companies with revenues between £150 million and £500 million about their thoughts on risk management. After some prompting and clarifications, people tended to be helpful and talkative. I also researched and compiled some statistics about risk management.

The biggest job for the duration of my internship was researching and writing 200-word school profiles for the FT’s piece on the Top 1000 Schools in Britain.

There were no coffee runs. Andy Sachs, eat your heart out.


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