The view from Meredith
The view from Meredith's Locust North building includes the downtown Des Moines skyline and sculpture park. Photo by Jessica Bennett

8 essential things you need to succeed as an intern

By Jessica Bennett, senior in journalism and French

The Meredith Apprentice Program is an opportunity like none other. It provides valuable real-world experience, plenty of portfolio pieces, endless networking opportunities and an impressive addition to your resume - but it also requires a wide range of skills and a lot of hard work.

To help you make the most of this experience, check out these eight essentials you'll need to succeed. While my suggestions come from my experience as an apprentice, I think most of them would apply to other internships, as well.

A good planner – or some other way to keep your tasks, deadlines and meetings organized – is a must! Photo by Jessica Bennett
A good planner – or some other way to keep your tasks, deadlines and meetings organized – is a must! Photo by Jessica Bennett

1. An organized planner

Working 20 hours a week in another city while juggling classes as a full-time student is a complex balancing act. With so much going on, responsibilities can easily slip through the cracks. Stay on top of things by writing down every assignment, meeting, project, deadline and important date for both school and work in a planner. Keep it updated and check it often.

2. A professional attitude

As a Meredith apprentice, you're treated just like any other staff member. You have a cubicle, an employee badge and high expectations to live up to. Strive to represent yourself in a professional manner in all aspects: how you dress, how you communicate (via email and in person), your quality of work and even your personal social media accounts.

3. Self-discipline

The Meredith Apprentice Program involves a lot of independence. No one is going to hover over your shoulder constantly to monitor what you're doing or to remind you to stay on task. In fact, many apprentices work from home every now and then. Because of this freedom, it's up to you to determine how you spend your time. It's crucial that you have the discipline to stay focused, stay off your phone and get the work done.

4. A nice pair of (comfortable!) dress shoes

Shoes are an important part of professional attire, so make sure you own a work-appropriate pair that won't kill your feet. Especially on days when you're standing for hours at a photo shoot or walking back and forth between Meredith's two buildings multiple times, comfort is essential.

5. Time management skills

Managing your time wisely is the key to survival as a Meredith apprentice. Between work, classes and extracurriculars, there isn't much time for procrastination. Prioritize what you need to accomplish and use your time effectively - master this and you'll still have plenty of time to enjoy a social life, too.

6. Headphones

Meredith offices are generally pretty quiet during the day, so if you work best with some background music, headphones are a must-have at work.

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

7. Respect for deadlines

As a student, missing an assignment deadline usually means nothing more than getting a few points taken off your grade - or maybe just annoying your professor a bit. In the workplace, turning something in late can be a much more serious offense. It can back up the entire schedule for the editors, designers, proofreaders, fact checkers and printers who come after you in the publishing process. As a rule, aim to turn in each assignment the day before it's due to ensure you're always on time.

8. Trust in yourself and your abilities

Stepping into the workplace for the first time can feel like a strange, scary stride toward the future. At first, you may feel way out of your comfort zone as you take on all these new responsibilities. Just remember that you were given this opportunity for a reason, and you're surrounded by people who want to help and support you along the way. You got this - and you're in for a pretty extraordinary experience.

Read the first two installments of Jessica's blog series on the Meredith Apprentice Program.

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.