Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Time at People Magazine

Being a native New Yorker, the Big Apple isn’t a new experience for me. However, interning at People magazine definitely is. From the moment I walked into the Time & Life building on my first day I felt a whirlwind of emotions inside me. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was definitely excited to be there.

The first two weeks at People magazine have been hectic, but I’m not complaining. Each day I am learning something new and meeting new people. I’ve attended meetings with editors and reporters while also receiving a firsthand look at how stories are developed from start to finish. This experience has been helping me to understand the type of stories that are suitable for pitching. And even if a story pitch doesn't work, I've learned that it's important not to get discouraged, but to keep pitching.

I have been doing research, fact-checking, interviews and working with other interns at the magazine. Everyone is very welcoming and after a few days I felt like I was part of a team. At People magazine, they treat you like a real reporter and it’s a great feeling.

Some highlights of my time at People magazine have been, meeting the cast of the new TNT drama “Dallas.” Josh Henderson, Jordana Brewster, Jesse Metcalfe and Julie Gonzalo stopped by the office and I got to see what kind of questions a reporter asked them. The questions were thought provoking and different.

I also got to meet Rachel Crow of “The X Factor.” She was approachable and smart. Crow came to the office with her younger sister and mother. She looked fashionable and she is set to take the world by storm with her EP, which hit stores and websites today. I was amazed at how confident she is and mature at just 14-years-old. She truly is an inspiration for girls her age and it’s nice to see that she is making her dreams come true.

On another note, it's true what they say, “the magazine industry is small.” Everyone knows each other. Just the other day, I met a People magazine staffer who also graduated from my school, Long Island University Brooklyn Campus. She also once held my current post as the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, Seawanhaka. What a coincidence! We bonded while sharing stories about our common experiences.

After attending a meeting for the “Heroes Among Us” section, I started thinking about potential heroes to pitch for the upcoming issue. The first question that came to mind was, ‘What does it mean to be a hero?’ A few thoughts popped into my head. Someone who has faced challenges in life but has managed to overcome them qualifies as a hero. The same is true for someone who is making a difference and displays courage. So after I figured that out, I started brainstorming – but then, I received an email. It was from an editor at People who had extra tickets for a benefit for Matthew Badger, a Connecticut man who lost his three daughters, Lily, Sarah and Grace in a Christmas Day house fire. Since then, Badger has started a nonprofit called the Lily Sarah Grace Fund which brings arts into public schools. The Lily Sarah Grace Fund has already funded some 400 arts projects. Now if he isn’t a hero, I don’t know who is.

The one-and-only Whoopi Goldberg hosted the affair, which also included a performance from an 11-year-old violinist and students from Ballet Tech. Other attendees included the actress Julianne Moore, author Sir Ken Robinson, and director Philip Seymour Hoffman. Each of them had a presentation with photos and spoke about Lily, Sarah and Grace and how each of the girls were different and special in their own way. At times it was emotional, but that night I definitely realized what it takes to be a hero. You can view the article at: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20603764,00.html.

That’s a short wrap up of my first few weeks at People magazine. I'm looking forward to what’s in store for me for the rest of the summer. 

-Mabel Martinez, People Intern

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