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This summer I worked as an editorial and marketing intern for The Chicagoan Media. During my junior year I interned with Northwestern University Press, a well-established publishing house that focuses primarily on literature, translations, and academic books and journals. After the internship, I was positive I wanted to pursue a career in publishing but thought I should experience editorial work in different genres and in a less traditional environment to develop a deeper understanding of the industry.

In March, a professor suggested I look into a new magazine called the Chicagoan. I picked up a copy of the magazine about a week later while on my way to the Art Institute and ended up sitting in the members’ lounge for hours reading almost all 194 pages in one sitting (and never managed to tear myself away to look at the exhibits!). Not only did the Chicago and Midwest focus of the magazine appeal to me as a Chicago native with connections to many of the places and people described, but the innovative techniques and risks excited me as a young writer with an passion for publishing. While many publishers believe print is a dying medium, the magazine believed that readers still want high-quality, aesthetically-pleasing publications. Most media companies refuse to print stories longer than a few thousand words, but the entire focus of the magazine was long-form writing.

A focus on print and high-quality writing with a complementary online presence appealed to all my interests in the changing world of publishing and I contacted the editors about interning for the organization. The work environment I experienced this summer has been completely different from my previous editing work in book publishing. Much of my communication occurred remotely and I was able to research everything from marketing, to social media, to potential art scenes across the Midwest. My career skills expanded in ways I wouldn’t have expected, like learning how to conduct effective phone interviews and how to explore different avenues for artistic collaboration. I think one of the most rewarding aspects of my job was the opportunity to speak with a variety of artists and writers and to see their excitement as I described the focus and scope of the project—much the way my inspiration was sparked when I first discovered the magazine.

Working for the Chicagoan has proven invaluable in formulating my future career plans. I was surprised to learn that I actually enjoy working in a position that requires a variety of skills and knowledge beyond editing. I also liked the excitement surrounding a new project and the idea that anything seems possible and no creative outlets are off-limits. My internship with the Chicagoan was funded by the Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP), a fantastic program that gives students financial support and a forum for feedback while working internships that are traditionally unpaid. In such a small and new company it would be nearly impossible for the Chicagoan to pay interns and my position more or less wouldn’t exist without the help of SIGP. I would never have discovered that magazine editing is the proper path for me. I hope that someday I can show my gratitude by funding a SIGP grant some time in the future!

About the NU Intern Blogger Program
This summer, over 50 Northwestern University students will be sharing stories about what they are experiencing at their internships from across the country and internationally. Each week new students will share an inside look at what it means to be an intern. Please contact Betsy Gill, Assistant Director, Internship Services if you have any questions.