Life at the New Statesman: Part 2

Following on from ‘Life at the New Statesman: Part 1, which looked at the process of getting settled in an organisation today I am going to talk about having focus whilst interning.

What do you mean focus?

Everyone has specific interests, hobbies and passions and this applies to our working life as well as our non-work life. As an intern you are many things to many people, often asked to take on the more mundane and time-consuming tasks required to keep a business running day-to-day.


Image courtesy of Flickr user: Dani Ihtatho

However as an intern you are there to gain valuable experience for yourself as well; so you need to make sure that from time to time you are completing work that complements what you want to learn and what skills you want to improve. There are a couple of ways to go about doing this:

1. Do not offer yourself out to the entire office too often, although when you do have no work you should go looking. Don’t get into the habit of taking on anything and everything. By being selective you can build up a new skill set that becomes valuable to both you and the office.

2. Try and build up a relationship with a few key members of staff and by this I don’t mean sucking up to as many senior members as possible. Instead, identify those staff members whose work interests you and ask if you can help with it.

3. See if you can be set a larger project or a research project for the duration of your internship, this can have several advantages

  • You always have work to do when no one needs anything
  • You can show off skills you may not have been able to otherwise
  • Depending on what you are asked to do you might be playing a part in something much bigger than your day to day work – a special conference, supplement or pitch for instance.

As an intern you can spend so much time being all things to all people that you don’t get the time and attention you need to develop yourself. By building and maintaining a few key relationships within the editorial team at the New Statesman I felt that I had people I could ask questions (even if they were a bit silly) and that I could ask for more challenging work from time to time.

I also had more experienced people to talk to about my own ambitions and aspirations and receive advice and tips from. After all, the chances are you are not being paid and you need to remember that you are trying to make yourself more attractive to potential employers, so you must make the best of the opportunities available to you.


About Nick Petrie
Social Media & Campaigns Editor @TheTimes of London. Co-founder @Wannabehacks. Interested in communities, conversations, storytelling.

5 Responses to Life at the New Statesman: Part 2

  1. Excellent advice, Nick. I currently find myself doing all sorts of bit work for lots of people – as a result I a) often forget when someone asks me to do something else and b) have the ‘time’ to browse your site at ‘work’.

  2. journalist says:

    Please don’t come asking for work experience with my outfit. If you blogged about inside my office I’d not be impressed…

    • The Intern says:

      Would you mind explaining why you feel like this. The New Statesman were aware of Wannabe Hacks and any criticisms I have made of them on this blog were made constructively to the NS before I left.

      Further more, why should individuals not blog about their experiences and the insight this brings so that others can make more of their opportunities. If you run a good, inclusive and productive office then I simply cannot see what the problem would be. I have not and would not give away away insider information or forward planning or anything that would compromise any publication I have been at.

  3. journalist says:

    because it’s invasive and a breach of trust. no employee would blog about their employer’s strengths and failings. no-one wants a loose mouth in the office. you need us more than we need you, so if you’re not willing to be loyal and discrete then you’re in the wrong game.

    there are two kinds of workies in the world: useful ones (i.e. they grind through the work and don’t complain, like everyone else) and uppity annoying ones. think on that.

    • The Intern says:

      In my case it is not either invasive or a breech of trust. The New Statesman was aware of the project and never expressed any concerns. What I have written can hardly be constituted as being a ‘loose mouth’. The posts, although based on my experiences at the New Statesman are hardly specific and use only one or two examples to illustrate a wider point that applies to interns whether they are interested in journalism or another industry entirely.

      My loyalty has never been in question – I have given away none of the New Statesman’s competitive advantage in what I have written and would never be so stupid to burn an organisation in that manner. Constructively criticising an intern scheme or the manner in which an office goes about one aspect of its business is hardly damaging.

      I also disagree entirely about there being two types of ‘workie’ in the world. There are people that are wiling to get stuck in and work really hard, improve the way a company works and the quality of its output – creating a better environment to work in and happier customers, People who sit down and grind through are often part of the problem, rather than not causing one.

      Being discreet does not mean saying nothing, it is about choosing what you do and do not say. Something I have been very careful to do.

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