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Go Inside an Editorial Internship at Cosmo Magazine

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Wishful thinking was the first step that got Iris Goldsztajn in the door at Cosmopolitan magazine. “I grew up saying I would work at Cosmo one day — that was my one goal,” Goldsztajn says of her high school aspirations. With her writing chops, can-do attitude, and networking drive, she made it happen – she landed an editorial internship with the famed magazine’s digital media team.

And it was her networking that gave her the edge. In the publishing world, she says, it can be about who you know. And who you reach out to. After seeing the intern posting on ED2010.com, a website geared toward the editorial world, Goldsztajn reached out to her connections. And recommends you do the same.

“When you hear about a job opportunity, look up the hiring manager and brainstorm people whom you could contact to recommend you,” the UCLA graduate says. “Even if you don’t see a listing for a particular job, message people on LinkedIn or find out their email address and ask for an informational interview, or even just to grab coffee. Be genuinely interested in people and stay in touch.”

She already sounds like a pro. Read on for more advice from Goldsztajn about landing an editorial internship.

Q: How did you find your internship at Cosmopolitan.com?
A: It was a pretty long process. The opportunity was posted on Ed2010.com, a resource for aspiring magazine editors. I actually looked up my now-supervisor and found that she was connected on LinkedIn to someone from one of my previous internships. I contacted her and asked if she would feel comfortable recommending me and sending over my resume, which she was kind enough to do.

Q: What was the hiring process like?
A: My supervisor asked me for writing samples. A few weeks later, she interviewed me over the phone and sent me an edit test, which I had five days to complete. A week or so after that, she set up a second interview with the managing editor at Cosmopolitan.com, and I was offered the internship a week later.

Q: What was your day-to-day like?
A: The three interns are a team, and we divide and conquer all projects that need doing. We start each day by scouring the internet, Reddit especially, for things that would be good to blog about. Throughout the day, we schedule Pinterest posts and keep track of all published content. The rest varies from day to day: we are encouraged to pitch and write original content – i.e. listicles, quizzes, personal pieces, etc., but we also conduct research that editors assign us, transcribe interviews, pull analytics, and more.

Q: What was the most challenging thing about working there?
A: I definitely had to learn to prioritize tasks and work as a team. There were really busy days when we had tight deadlines and a lot on our plates, but those ended up being the most fun! I guess I like the slight adrenaline I get from being very busy – and productive. It’s also challenging to put your ego aside when editors give you feedback, but that’s also one of the most valuable learning experiences, because your writing gets better every time.

Q: What did you love most?
A: I love that this internship is really what you make of it. I was able to pitch ideas and write about things that are an important part of my life, like being bicultural. I also love that on any given day I can be asked to research anything from awkward celebrity kisses to body positive photos — it’s just a lot of fun! Overall the best thing about this internship was being surrounded by a supportive, kind and extremely talented team that pushes you to do your best on the one hand, and is always available to help on the other.

Q: Anything you would do differently?
A: I probably could have pitched more ideas, but all in all, I’m really happy and grateful for the experience.

Q: What personality traits do you think are most important to succeeding in an editorial internship?
A: Humility is crucial in digital media. Your editors are not going to think everything you write or pitch is the greatest thing they’ve ever seen or heard, and you don’t want them to! It’s important to learn from your mistakes and not make the same ones again. Humility is also important when working closely with other people. You also have to be curious and genuinely passionate about everything from the election cycle to Starbucks’ latest news.

Q: What’s one of the most important things you learned, as it relates to your future job prospects?
A: That the people around you matter the most. You have to get along with your coworkers or you will be miserable. You also can’t be afraid to get off the beaten path — if something doesn’t feel right for you, you don’t need to do it, even if some people tell you have to. It really comes down to trusting your instincts, as naive as that may sound.

Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to get their foot in the door as a magazine intern?
A: Don’t be afraid to pitch your favorite publications and ask to freelance for them. Start a blog or a Medium page. Enter writing contests. Develop your social media presence. There are so many ways to get your writing out there, and employers are expecting to see your past work.

Connect with Iris on Twitter.

 
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