Meredith editorial apprentices aren’t like the magazine interns you may remember from the movies.
They don’t go on coffee runs or drop off their bosses’ dry cleaning. These students write stories, conduct interviews, attend pin-up meetings and assist with photo shoots at a leading media and marketing services company. As undergraduates, apprentices hold many of the same responsibilities as full-time, entry-level staffers.
“The fact that you are getting a story with your byline published in Better Homes and Gardens magazine—that’s way different than a typical internship,” said Deb Gibson, the Greenlee School’s Meredith Apprentice Program coordinator.
The program, which launched in 2003, employs 10 Iowa State students each year: five in editorial, two in digital media and three in graphic design. These paid, yearlong apprenticeships allow students to work 15-20 hours per week at Meredith Corp. in Des Moines.
Allison Luety, a 2016-2017 editorial apprentice, works in Meredith’s Agrimedia department on Successful Farming and FFA New Horizons magazines. She produces both print and online content, including feature stories and timely news articles. Also skilled in photography, she has had several photos published throughout her apprenticeship.
Luety is particularly proud of a piece she wrote in December about President Donald Trump’s potential impact on the agricultural industry. After interviewing several professors and economists, she wrote a 900-word online story, which was also featured in Successful Farming’s daily newsletter sent out to farmers and ranchers.
“They trusted me with a really big and important story that was published on Agriculture.com,” she said. “That was something I never expected to get the chance to do.”
For FFA New Horizons, she has also written numerous front-of-book pieces, which vary from 50 to 200 words and are published in the first few pages of the magazine. She had never practiced short-form journalism before her apprenticeship, so these articles add new diversity to her portfolio, she said.
Maggie Jennett is another 2016-2017 editorial apprentice assigned to Meredith Agrimedia. Working Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as needed, she creates online content for LivingtheCountryLife.com, manages the brand's social media accounts and writes print articles for Successful Farming magazine.
After growing up on a farm, Jennett is particularly interested in agricultural communication, which makes her apprenticeship a perfect match. As an added perk, her family subscribes to Successful Farming and frequently reads her stories in this national publication.
“It’s kind of fun when my grandparents call me and they’re like, ‘We see your name in the magazine!’” she said.
She mainly produces content focused on gardening, recipes and local farms. One of her favorite assignments was traveling to a farm in Earlham, Iowa, to create a Facebook Live video featuring baby goats.
Jaden Urbi also works as an editorial apprentice, although her position is a bit different from the others. She writes for Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, a digital agency that creates content for a variety of clients. Urbi mainly works on the Panera Bread Company and Kraft Foods Group, Inc. accounts, producing both digital and print content.
For the Panera brand, she helps generate creative pitches that can include web articles, infographics and other visual components. Once Panera’s marketing team approves the ideas, Urbi handles the text components. She now has several articles published on the company’s website.
Her work for Kraft Foods involves writing online articles, managing email campaigns and writing headlines for Kraft Food & Family magazine. She has also helped direct a photo shoot for the publication’s spring issue and occasionally has the opportunity to test recipes that are featured in the magazine.
“We have a whole test kitchen staff that develops recipes for us using Kraft ingredients,” she said.
On those days, she applies her interest in food journalism while tasting different foods and offering opinions on what will look best in the magazine.
Apart from these special experiences, portfolio-building assignments and an impressive addition to their resumes, apprentices enjoy valuable networking opportunities. Each year, Meredith CEO Steve Lacy hosts a luncheon with the students and their supervisors to discuss the company, their apprenticeships and their goals.
“I just think it’s amazing,” Gibson said. “I don’t know of too many other companies that would have their CEO spend that much time with a group of college students.”
Forming connections like this can be hugely beneficial later in their careers. Following graduation, many former apprentices take on full-time positions at Meredith, while others have gone on to work for titles like Glamour, E! News, This Old House, Buzzfeed and Men’s Journal, Gibson said.
With so many opportunities, the apprenticeship provides students a glimpse of what they could be doing after their time at Iowa State ends. Wherever their careers take them, their experience with the Meredith Apprentice Program is only the beginning.
By Jessica Bennett