my internship experience

Amber Cronin '11, a Communication Studies major and Sociology minor from Buxton, Maine, spent three months this summer as an intern at Portland Magazine in Portland, Maine. The monthly publication focuses on arts and entertainment, architecture and all things Maine. On campus, Cronin is managing editor of Colby-Sawyer's student-run newspaper, The Courier, writes for College Communications, is active with the SAGE Club and competes on the cross country and track and field teams.

Why did you choose this internship?

I was looking for either a newspaper or magazine based in Portland. I have seen Portland Magazine in different locations so I decided to check it out. I applied online and heard back almost immediately from the design director. He asked if I could come in to help with deliveries the week after and then set up an interview. I think doing the deliveries really helped get me in the door. A note to all those looking for internships: if you can volunteer with a company or organization before your interview, do it!

What skills were required for this internship and what were your responsibilities?

Solid knowledge of programs like Photoshop and InDesign were really helpful. Knowing how to research and write were key skills; I became a fact-checking machine in my time at the magazine. I worked on four issues and though I did mostly fact-checking, I had six stories published, which was a really nice feeling. I was also sent out on a few photo shoots and ad calls during the four months I was there.

Did your course work and studies prepare you for this internship?

The most helpful class I've had at Colby-Sawyer was my Writing for Public Communications class. It really helped me with style problems as well as knowing how to conduct interviews and so forth.

Additionally, my desktop publishing class and experience with the Courier helped me a lot with the programs that the magazine uses on a daily basis, When I was asked to lay out a story or make corrections to a piece in InDesign I wasn't just scratching my head; I knew what I was doing.

What did you enjoy most, and what did you find most challenging about your internship?

I enjoyed the opportunity to work with people who have a lot of experience in the magazine publishing industry. The chance to put my writing to the test and get feedback was really rewarding. My supervisor wrote in my performance review that she fully expects my writing to be in a national publication someday, and I was really excited by that. It totally reaffirmed my desire to work in this field.

My first day was a flurry of activity; I came in and immediately had things to do – finding pictures, fact-checking and editing. It was a little bit overwhelming, but I got through it. My best day was probably when I landed a story that I really wanted to do on Portland's underground tunnels and catacombs – really neat stuff. While it was stressful putting it together, it was really rewarding. My least favorite were the days when there wasn't much to do, because it is hard just to sit in a hot office.

What have you learned during your internship?

Just that experience is invaluable. I learned that people in publishing are very secretive, which was pretty surprising. They don't want the competition to figure out what they are working on; they have to stay ahead and be new and inventive to sell magazines.

What has this experience taught you about yourself and your field of study?

It taught me I am a better writer than I thought I was, and that I really do want to get into this industry because it is fast-paced, exciting and always a challenge.

Please share one or two of your most memorable experiences from your internship.

I landed an interview pretty early on with one of my heroes, Joan Benoit Samuelson. She is an amazing runner and an inspiration to women because of what she has achieved. I only got to talk with her for a few minutes, but I still have the voice-mail she left on my phone.

The first time I saw my name in print was also a big thing for me. I was excited that I got to write a story about rock-climbing, which is something I really enjoy. I didn't think it was going to get printed, but when I opened up Summerguide, there it was. I definitely gave a little squeal of excitement.

Do you think that Colby-Sawyer's requirement of completing an internship is beneficial?

Definitely. I think that getting experience, any experience, in the field that you want to work in is great. How can you know whether you really want to do something if you never try it?

Read Amber's interview with best-selling author Tess Gerritsen, conducted for Portland Magazine,