Syracuse University alumna (’09) Caylin Harris returned to Syracuse University on Friday to visit with Ed. Two years the wiser, Harris shared tales of four post-grad internships at publications including Pilates Style, The Week, Parents (with Ed’s founder Chandra Turner), and W before landing a temporary editorial assistant position at Health. Now an EA at Good Housekeeping, she assists the Lifestyle Director (teaching her a thing or two about interior decorating and home maintenance) and the Entertainment Editor based in Los Angeles.
In addition to researching for the mag’s department and feature stories, she skims most applications that come into the office for internship position before passing them along to senior editors. On Friday, she shared what she looks for in a resume, and even met with many of you to personally critique resumes. But for those of you who missed out, Ed scooped five tips for turning your resume into a successful internship:
1. Build up your skills. If you worry about not having enough experience, take what you have under your belt and apply it to a magazine setting. Play up your experience with campus publications and multimedia skills learned in classes. Even extracurricular activities like community service can be relevant if you can connect your time management, communication skills, and leadership roles to what the internship requires.
2. Proofread. Spelling errors can get your resume tossed immediately. (Take advantage of the Career Development Center at Newhouse and an extra pair of eyes read it over before you turn it in.)
3. Tailor your cover letter. General cookie cutter cover letters are a no-no; even worse is to apply to all internships possibilities via one blast e-mail. Take the time to know your magazine so that you can write a snappy cover letter reflecting on why you would be be perfect for that magazine. And don’t go overboard: editors don’t want to read a book. Then paste the finished product in the body of your e-mail so it’s less work for the editors than opening an attachment.
4. Avoid going through Human Resources if you can. HR forwards four to five e-mails to Harris each day, which she admits to deleting. It’s much more impressive to do your homework, find an individual on your dream magazine’s masthead, and address your cover letter to them.
5. You’ve made it; but don’t slack just yet. Take it seriously, because you’ve entered the world’s longest interview. Complete every task with enthusiasm, as small as it may be. Once an editor sees she can trust you with menial tasks like answering reader mail, she is more likely to trust you with more substantial projects.