From intern to editor

Tom Rowley

My university peers and I were always striving to publish content in a print magazine.

The excitement of sharing something created by you with a magazine’s entire readership was enough for me to put up with the constant rejection from publishers, and commit myself to a world that wasn’t exactly welcoming with open arms. I’d spent years writing features, short stories, books, creating my own digital mags, so it was only right that I make a career out of producing great content.

After emailing Nicola, CEO of River, and inquiring about internships, I started working on a magazine that I’d been fond of for years: Healthy For Men. Internships are a strange beast; sometimes it’s hard to know where you stand. Am I part of the team? Is it always my round of tea? Should I stay in the shallow end of this pool, or should I risk deeper waters? It is important to do all the small things well and prove to your employer that you’re capable of basic tasks – but I’ve always felt that there’s room to shine beyond basic efficiency. Luckily, my temporary workplace shared the same ethos.

River gave me the opportunity to become a valuable member of the editorial team. I wrote features, interviewed huge sports names, and attended important events as an ambassador for Healthy For Men. I felt like I was well in the deep end – but somehow keeping my head above water. I was tenacious and actively looked for opportunities, but I managed to work for a company that offered support and trusted my judgements. I felt more than an intern, so I acted that way. In those few months, I became a real journalist.

I returned to uni to finish my degree, completed a master’s and then moved to Melbourne, Australia, to write my novel. Not long after I returned, I was offered the position of editor of Healthy For Men magazine. I’m not going to be too cool about it – this was probably one of the best days of my life. My number one ambition was to become an editor and have the creative freedom to generate the kind of content I’d been reading for years, so to edit a magazine that is so close to my heart makes every day one to remember.

One of my biggest anxieties about taking on the role was whether the colleagues that remembered me as that intern guy would find it hard to take me seriously as the new editor. From day one, my anxieties were put to rest. Working with a team of highly skilled editorial gurus (who have a great deal more experience than me) means I’m constantly growing, and knowing that they support me made them an invaluable element of my transition to an editor.

I speak with interns at River often, and I can tell there’s some great talent coming to the industry. I only hope they take the same opportunities as I did, and that I see them at River again. My time worked out well for me, but even I have regrets about my internship; I still wish I’d worked with different departments and looked for opportunities with other magazines. If you can overcome the fear of being in an alien environment with experienced professionals, you might find that we all speak the same language. You’ll also find that most are happy to work with an ambitious young intern hungry to garner their wisdom.

If you’re thinking about taking on an internship, I assure you, the sky’s the limit. Emailing Nicola Murphy, the CEO of a highly successful publishing company, might have been a long shot, but it was certainly the best thing I ever did.

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