Monday, July 9, 2012

Cubicle Giddiness.

Cubicles have withstood the test of time as 1) a symbol of semi-seclusion when one must focus on work and cut the chit-chat and 2) a boundary for personal space within the office.

They also serve as great hiding spots when one becomes embarrassedly giddy.

On my first day at GQ, I was allotted one of these cubicles alongside editorial assistants and associate editors. It's a small space, yes, but its just-tall-enough walls allow me to speak to the tops of people's heads and, as aforementioned, duck my head during times of extreme focus or sheer embarrassment. So nonchalant, I know.

After I met other GQ editors and set up my email account, I went right to work – transcribing, fact-checking, even a bit of editing. I grabbed lunch with our other editorial intern in Bryant Park (when New York weather actually allowed an outdoor meal without me turning into a puddle) and returned to my humble workbox.

One more thing you should know about my work space: to my left, diagonally, there's a small, Mad Men-esque conference room where the senior staff puts design pinups on the wall and discusses the break of book for future issues.

So, wandering-eyes me, I peeked up from my cubicle while the senior staff was in that conference room. The first pair of eyes I saw were of our editor-in-chief, Jim Nelson, and, of course, I broke into the cheesiest grin. I tried to hide all of my weird giddiness and to comprehend that I actually work at this magazine I've read since age 15; that and the fact that I was 12 feet away from the legendary editor-in-chief whose position I strive for sometime in my career. To say the least, Day One was quite eventful.

I'll end the gushing there with a beautiful piece of advice from an editor with whom I work closely. "If you have a big idea, just go for it," he told me. So simple, but so sensible. Although his advice referred to pitching story ideas, I think it's a mantra many of us can apply to other things: to applying for ASME, to starting our internships, to introducing ourselves to magazine-industry tycoons and to that crazy thing called "employment" that comes after graduation.

My experience at GQ has been my best one so far. I've developed new skills and refined a few old crafts. I've already written a few pieces, and even had the chance to brush up on speaking Italian for fact checks. Each day brings new opportunities for learning and for improvement. I'm honored to work in such an inspiring work environment and privileged to work for such talented writers and editors.

Here's to hoping the next five weeks pass extremely slowly, to a phenomenal summer in the city and to hundreds of thank-you notes to come.

Justin Whaley
Editorial Intern | GQ
University of Missouri
ASME 2012

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