An English-woman in New York


This week WannabeHacks are proud to present a regular guest poster: a Hacker from Harlem.

Alice Vincent is a 21 year-old writer interested in magazine journalism as well as fashion, music and the arts. After completing an English Literature degree at Newcastle University this summer she has recently moved to New York to intern with Nylon magazine.

Alice Vincent

As those who have experienced it will know, the first day of any new internship is fairly nerve-wracking.  The combination of a new public transport system, entering part of a city bustling with confident commuters and feeling like you’ve got a luminous sign above your head saying ‘UNPAID NEWBIE’ isn’t a great one.

However, catching a glimpse of the Chrysler Building the minute I left the subway certainly eased the pain yesterday when I started a three month stint at a major American fashion magazine.

This is my seventh internship in just over two years. Although Labor Day ‘pool crashing’ in a Lower East Side Hotel with the incredibly accommodating Editorial Assistant had eased the tummy-butterflies, the judgement-filled stare of the receptionist still had impact because – unlike previous gigs – my first day outfit consisted of whatever wasn’t creased.

Having slept in three different places in as many nights and having had my luggage rummaged by airport security, just not looking like a tramp was the extent of my wardrobe specifications.

These emotional similarities aside, New York internships are a very different deal from your typical London affair; before I’d even stepped through the office doors I had already been given a book review to complete for midday as part of a new books blog project on the magazine’s impressive website.

It may sound like small fry, but contrary to popular belief writing things as a monthly magazine editorial intern is ludicrously rare. If you’re lucky you’ll get a vox pop or maybe some research you’ve done will be used. When there are dozens of freelancers competing for as many column inches, you’re lucky to even proofread it.

Or so I thought. Day one consisted of the said book review, a couple of editing tasks and learning how to fact check; something I’d never heard of since no previous internship had got me doing it. In the afternoon I sorted out an interview for another publication, got offered whisky-infused cupcakes and was asked my availability for shows at NY Fashion Week.

Chrysler Building

It took me until about 5pm to be asked to send something off via UPS and – oh! – today I threw out some boxes in the middle of transcribing two interviews (one my own).

Interning here isn’t about sitting on Facebook; it’s like actually being a journalist.

With the occasional model floating around, piles of books always needing reviewing and the latest niche band on the stereo, the offices are strongly reminiscent of their British equivalent – except, of course, for all those glossy and twangy accents. When things like “it f***ing stinks in here” are exclaimed, it sounds like something from a film, rather than something from a grumpy cockney.

OK, so the novelty’s still fresh (indeed more so than the bins, which is what happens when everyone is fuelled on sushi). However, after chasing up some research in small town Mississippi to hear “weeyy-lll, thay-errs a saaahhhn on the dooorrr but I dunno what it saaayyyssss”, can you blame me?

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About Matthew Caines
Community & content for the Guardian Culture & Media professional networks | founder of @wannabehacks @withinreachmag | find him on Twitter @mattcaines

8 Responses to An English-woman in New York

  1. Greg says:

    Wow working in New York sounds amazing! Can I just ask Alice, how did you go about looking for jobs in New York and where did you find the ad for this internship? It’s something I would definitely be interested in but I’m not sure how you’d go about finding such an opportunity

  2. I’m with Greg – Alice, you are living my dream! How did you get where you are today?

  3. Alice says:

    Hi guys!
    Thanks for commenting – apologies for the delay! I’d like to blame the time difference but it’d be more honest to blame Brooklyn’s bar scene…

    If you sit tight I’ll set up a proper account to get back to you in detail. In a nutshell though, pestering people, making contacts and interning a LOT.

    As I say – this will be expanded upon. But thanks for commenting, as soon as I can I’d love to share what little knowledge I have!

  4. The New Yorker says:

    Ok…so, now in my official alias…

    Greg: Coming over to NY was a sort of natural progression from my internships and journalistic activity throughout my degree. Although I was studying in Newcastle, 90% of my internships were in London. I was realistic that when I graduated I’d have to do a ‘proper’ internship if I was to have any hope of being a journalist professionally, i.e, one lasting three months.

    Living fairly close to London anyway and having had experience of working there, I figured if I was to do more free labour, I might as well do it abroad. I’ve never had a gap year and although I’ve travelled a little, it’s been in the form of holidays. So, the notion of interning in New York was formed!

    I got the placement after interning at NME. Their current editor, Krissi Murrison, had started her first week there when I had. One of the other editors had mentioned that Krissi had come over from working at Nylon, so I seized the opportunity to chat to her about it and see if she could link me up – which she very kindly did.

    I sorted out the placement about a year ago – a couple of emails to the then-executive editor of Nylon with Krissi’s name in the subject heading and I was put through to the Editorial Assistant. I had a phone interview, arranged a potential placement for September 2010 and spent the next eight months applying for MAs and working for my degree. Around April/May I realised that I’d be daft not to take up the placement – might sound wierd with such an opportunity but the financial expense had to be considered and an MA seemed like THE route in. It might still be, I don’t know. The rest is history!

    Arguably, having a contact really helped. However, Nylon were impressed by my list of relevant experience at UK magazine equivalents and my involvement with student media. It’s only now I’m here and seeing the reaction from people when I say I’m a Nylon intern that I realise how lucky I’ve been – it’s a pretty big deal, which is very difficult to judge from the UK. However, they take a lot of British interns here and it’s an amazing magazine to be involved with – furthermore, I think it’s the same across the board. I’d recommend applying for internships here the same you would in the UK: get a list of relevant publications (look through publishing houses for ones you may not have heard of). Find out who the editorial assistant is, write a load of cover letters, CVs, post them, email them, pester them – if they ignore you, it’s not because they’re not interested, it’s because they’re incredibly busy. That you want to come over from England to work for free says a lot about your dedication to the cause, so you’ve already got an advantage. I’ve only been here ten days and I couldn’t recommend it enough!

  5. gregnewcombe says:

    Sounds great Alice, thanks for your advice and good luck in the big apple!

  6. Kagem says:

    This looks really interesting but the red font is really hurting my eyes so just a thought for the editors of WH, please can you keep the font colours simple.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks for your comment Kagem; I’ll personally bring it up at the next editorial meeting and see if we can find a way to spruce up the pages without the eye-bleeding colours!

  7. Pingback: It’s lovely to meet you… I’m the new Hack « Wannabe Hacks

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