Editors and art directors pin up magazine spreads to collectively review the issue
Editors and art directors pin up magazine spreads to collectively review the issue's content and flow. Photo courtesy of Jessica Bennett

5 things I've learned as a Meredith apprentice

By Jessica Bennett, senior in journalism and mass communication, French

At Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Media, every day is a learning experience. As an editorial apprentice in the Home Design department, I write stories, research new trends and products, conduct interviews and schedule social media posts. From this whirlwind of new experiences, skills and insights, here are just a few things I've learned:

1. The magazine publishing industry is a complex machine

You may not be able to tell as you casually flip through the pages of a magazine, but each line of text and glossy image has been carefully, strategically crafted by a whole team of people. From planning meetings to photo shoots to issue pinups, I've gotten a behind-the-scenes look at the entire process, and wow - it's complicated. The sheer amount of work that goes into each issue is pretty incredible, which makes seeing my name in print feel like even more of an accomplishment.

2. A "can do" attitude is the key to unlocking opportunities

When I first started my apprenticeship, assignments started coming my way from all directions. It felt like everyone in my department had something they needed my help with. At first, all that responsibility seemed pretty overwhelming, but I decided to push past it and just say yes. My already lengthy to-do list continued to grow, but the people around me were so appreciative of my help, and I had the chance to take on opportunities and challenges I wouldn't have experienced otherwise. Being the person who says, "Yes, I can do that!" and then follows through is such a valuable skill. Not only does it establish yourself as a dependable team player, it can open doors for you that you didn't even know existed.

3. Asking questions isn't a bad thing

Admitting I don't understand something used to be an extremely uncomfortable task for me. It made me feel foolish and incompetent to even have to ask. But over the course of this apprenticeship, I've accepted that I don't always know exactly what I'm doing and I'm not expected to. My supervisor always encourages questions and truly appreciates when I reach out again for more clarification. It shows that I'm truly engaged in my work and determined do it right. Asking a question to clarify will always be better than turning something in that you're not sure about and later finding out you did the whole thing wrong.

4. Email communication is an art form - and an absolutely crucial skill

I send and receive dozens of emails every day I come into work. The first thing I do when I arrive in the morning is check my email, and until I leave the office at 5 p.m., my inbox is usually in a near-constant state of action. All that emailing has taught me how important it is to be professional, polite and precise every time I send a message. I always read, re-read and re-re-read what I've typed before I hit send to make sure my message is clear and free of errors. When I'm reaching out to PR reps, bloggers or designers, email is often the only form of contact we have, so it's essential that I make a good impression for myself and Meredith as a company. Take the time to master proper email etiquette - you never know where a good email could take you.

5. The real world isn't as scary as it sounds

One of the best things about being a Meredith apprentice is that you truly get a taste of what the real world is like while you're still in college. As a half-student/half-professional, I've learned that post-grad life isn't as daunting or foreign as I once thought. Greenlee equipped me with the knowledge and skills I needed to jump into the workplace, and it turns out staying afloat is easier than expected. The environment changes, but the expectations remain the same: do the work, do it well and do it on time. If you can do that in the classroom, you can do it in the real world.

Jessica Bennett is a senior double-majoring in journalism and French from Davenport, Iowa. She currently works as an editorial apprentice at the Meredith Corp. in Des Moines. After she graduates in May, Jessica plans to pursue a career in magazine publishing.