A painted mural enhances the main entryway of the Locust South building at the Meredith Corp. Photo by Jessica Bennett
A painted mural enhances the main entryway of the Locust South building at the Meredith Corp. Photo by Jessica Bennett

A week in the life of a Meredith apprentice

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

MONDAY

7:30 a.m. My alarm goes off.

It's Monday morning and the start of another week as a Meredith editorial apprentice/full-time Greenlee student.

Today, I'm not a student - I'm a working professional, and it's time to get ready for work.

I shower, eat breakfast and then drink my first cup of coffee of the day as I slip on black jeans, a cardigan and a pair of ankle boots (casual and comfy, but still totally work-appropriate). At 9 a.m. on the dot, my phone lights up with an "On my way!" text in the carpool group chat. A few minutes later, I climb into the car with two fellow apprentices, Emily and Hannah, and we embark on the 40-minute commute to downtown Des Moines.

Meredith apprentices often carpool together when making the drive from Ames to downtown Des Moines. Photo by Jessica Bennett
Meredith apprentices often carpool together when making the drive from Ames to downtown Des Moines. Photo by Jessica Bennett

Meredith apprentices are all assigned to park in the lot behind the original building, called Locust South, which houses the cafeteria, photo studio, fitness center and several floors of offices. Emily, Hannah and I work in Locust North, the newer of the two buildings that make up Meredith's headquarters. It's a several-minute walk from the parking lot over a metal footbridge, through Locust South, across the skywalk and finally up the stairs to my office on the fourth floor of Locust North.

I navigate to my cubicle and say hi to Sam, my supervisor and the senior home design editor at Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Media. She asks me about my weekend and tells me about a project she'd like me to start today, and then I sit down at my desk to get to work.

I start each morning with the same routine: check my email, make a to-do list and then, if necessary, enlist the help of additional coffee. For the rest of this Monday, I research vintage collectible items, attend a content planning meeting for Do It Yourself, contact companies to have products sent in for an upcoming photoshoot and write a sidebar for a story in Best of Flea Market Style.

Planning meetings take place in one of many conference rooms. Photo by Jessica Bennett
Planning meetings take place in one of many conference rooms. Photo by Jessica Bennett

I take a break around noon to have lunch in the cafeteria, and then the rest of the afternoon is a blur of emails, research and writing.

At 5 p.m., I log off my computer, say goodbye to my cubicle neighbors and head to the car. On the drive back to Ames, I switch my brain from professional to academic mode, knowing I have a French presentation tomorrow that I need to practice and an exam looming on Thursday.

I'm a college student again - at least until Wednesday.

WEDNESDAY

Every day as a Meredith apprentice is different, so I never know exactly how busy I'll be until I actually get to work. On Wednesday morning, I sit down at my desk a few minutes before 10 a.m., log onto my computer and click the Microsoft Outlook icon. I wait a few seconds as my inbox loads, and then 17 new messages arrive in rapid succession.

So today is going to be a busy one. This calls for more coffee.

The coffee machine at Meredith is a frequent stop for employees throughout the day. Photo by Jessica Bennett
The coffee machine at Meredith is a frequent stop for employees throughout the day. Photo by Jessica Bennett

After a quick trip to the office kitchenette for a steaming cup from the coffee machine, I sit down to begin combing through the emails, replying as necessary and sorting them into folders categorized by publication. I'm normally working on several different titles at the same time, so having separate folders in my inbox is essential for keeping things organized.

Every day starts with a to-do list. Photo by Jessica Bennett
Every day starts with a to-do list. Photo by Jessica Bennett

Once I've read through all the new messages, I start making my to-do list. Most of the tasks for today revolve around preparing for a photoshoot next Monday for Best of Flea Market Style. I've been coordinating with companies to have products sent in for us to photograph, working quickly to track down all the items we need and ensure everything arrives on time. Simultaneously, I'm working on requesting high-resolution images of products to be featured in Homes on the Water and following up with an editor about some questions on a story I wrote a couple weeks ago.

Days like these really put my communication and organizational skills to the test, but by 5 p.m., I walk out of the office feeling accomplished.

FRIDAY

When Friday finally rolls around, I'm ready for the weekend. It's been a busy week for both school and work, and this workday is the last hurdle standing between me and a couple days of relaxation.

Jessica Bennett does most of her work at her desk in a cubicle on Locust North
Jessica Bennett does most of her work at her desk in a cubicle on Locust North's fourth floor. Photo by Jessica Bennett

With the Best of Flea photoshoot coming up on Monday, today is our last day of prep. Fortunately, all the products I requested came in on time, so now it's time to unpack the boxes. I carefully unwrap each item, slowly forming a mountain of bubble wrap and packaging in my cubicle. I load everything onto a cart that we'll take down to the photo studio next week.

That afternoon, with just a few more items needed for the shoot, Sam and I go on a little shopping trip. We drive over to The Prop Studio, just a few blocks from Meredith in downtown Des Moines. Walking in the door, I marvel at shelf after shelf of dishes, glassware, household items and various other props useful for styling a photoshoot, which are all available to rent. We browse through the aisles for several minutes before settling on a few pretty painted plates and a vintage gumball machine.

When we get back to Meredith, my work is just about done for the day. After a couple final email responses, I'm out the door and headed back to Iowa State.

Another week down as a Meredith apprentice, and I'm another step closer to trading my student status for a full-time professional position - this time for good.

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, and she's also on the Greenlee School's student communication team. After she graduates in May, Jessica plans to pursue a career in magazine publishing.