Unlike many of the other interns you will read about here, I did not just complete my internship. In fact, I have not worked at FRIENDS JOURNAL for about a year and a half now, and I am writing this in the fall of 2009. But while my reflections on my experience there may not be as fresh or immediate as others, I believe the distance of time has allowed me to realize some things about the internship program there that were not readily apparent.
I arrived at FRIENDS JOURNAL in the fall of 2007 as an English major who thought she might be interested in editorial work at a magazine. And FJ certainly helped me to see what that was like: I got every kind of experience from copyediting to selecting articles and poems to layout. Examining and editing others’ work improved my own writing skills more than any other experience I have had, helping me to become clearer and more accurate and concise in my writing. Furthermore, knowing that my opinion could be one of the deciding factors in whether or not an article or poem should be published was a tremendously powerful thing as an intern. It is a reflection of how the tasks that make up an internship at FJ often differ from those at another magazine, and of the importance of interns to the magazine.
But most importantly, FJ played an integral role in helping me to decide what I wanted to do post-graduation. And it was not just an archetypal experience of loving the editorial process and deciding to pursue it as a career. In fact, in the time since my internship, I have decided to pursue something quite different. But my tenure at FJ played a definitive role in helping me to realize how important the quality of my work environment is, something all the more important to me than the specific field I will pursue. The environment at FJ is incredibly unique. It is a place where weekly staff meetings involve checking up on each individual’s life, interests, and well being. Consideration of an article was not an argument about whether or not it was “good,” but rather a thoughtful discussion of why each person was thinking what he or she was. As I have moved on to other internship experiences afterwards and worked at a variety of offices, I have realized that my internship at FRIENDS JOURNAL crystallized for me what was most important in my future as a working person.
When I began my internship at Friends Journal, working three days a week, it seemed like it was my full-time job, and it felt as if I were going to school only part-time. Then, as I gained experience copyediting, proofreading, and commenting on submissions, Friends Journal started to feel more like a second home than an employer. While I got to know everyone and observed how they interacted with each other, I realized that FJ was, indeed, a family. I have not had any previous internships, but I have worked in a few other offices and they do not compare to the way FJ functions. Other offices lack the unique closeness of FJ, and I have learned that this, to me, is the most important quality of a job. Along with reading submissions, the weekly staff meetings were what I enjoyed most because of the “go-around,” which allowed me to get to know the outside lives of the FJ staff—and they, too, got to know me.
At the same time, I was experiencing what it was like to work at an independent magazine: the deadlines, the never-ceasing submissions, and learning about Quakerism. For these past few months, the articles and submissions I have read here have nurtured my soul. In actuality, I probably learned more about myself at FJ than I did about running a magazine. Before I started my internship, pacifism, to me, seemed like a passive method that was rarely effective. But, through reading articles about conscientious objectors, the Peace Testimony, and countless other related subjects, I have realized that pacifism is effective. Pacifism is not a passive way of life. On the contrary, it is assertive and confrontational, for if it were not, peace would not be the outcome. I found that I have been a pacifist my whole life, and learning from FJ, reading the submissions etc., I found out why, and that is because there is no way to peace: peace is the way.
Intern, 2007 Summer
I had the unique opportunity this summer to do two internships simultaneously, one at Friends Journal and the other at a publishing house. From this experience I can honestly tell you that the internship at Friends Journal is not a typical internship program. On the first day I was given an orientation exercise of choosing a few articles to read and comment on, but instead, I ended up reading most of the articles from the past year. This enabled me to become better acquainted with the JOURNAL and was a great way to start off the internship.
Before I started I remember that I was stunned that the JOURNAL relies completely on submissions from people for their content. After reading through the past issues I was amazed at the quality of the articles. The exercises also asked us to critique the magazine and website, and share our thoughts with Bob. Right away I knew that this would be a different internship because we were being asked for our opinions. We discussed all of our exercises with Bob who was very open to everything we said.
During my ten weeks at FJ I laid out and edited manuscripts and the Forum, commented on new submissions, helped to write rejection letters, fact checked some articles, compiled a list of possible poems for the September issue, proofread the blueline, indexed past issues, researched Green environmental movements, and wrote an article with the other interns on Friends Center’s Green Roof. I also attended weekly staff meetings and I was able to sit in on two final interviews for a staff position. For the July 2007 special issue another intern and I went to Friends Center to look through hundreds of their pictures for use in the special issue. We chose almost 200 pictures to take back to FJ where we went through them again trying to eliminate as many as we could.
On Fridays I was usually the only intern in. This was very different from the other two days of the week when all of the interns were in the office. I worked closely with Bob, or Becca, on anything they were working on. It certainly kept me busy, but I learned a great deal more from it.
Because of the people I worked with—the other interns as well as the staff—and the work we were given, my internship at FJ has been the most rewarding of the three internships that I have done. Never was I stuck at the copier or coffee pot. Instead I was always “stuck” at the intern table editing. No matter what I was doing I was always learning about a different aspect of the publishing process. I was lucky that FJ was flexible with my scheduling two internships; however, I wish I had been able to devote more time to FJ.
Intern, 2007 Summer
When I applied, canvassed recommendations, interviewed for, and finally committed to a summer internship at Friends Journal, I had absolutely no expectations. It had seemed prudent that I secure some way—something regular, some obligation, something to get me out of the house—to occupy my time once classes finished for the year, so when I heard about an internship at a Quaker magazine I thought to myself, “I like Quakers, I know many Quakers, [my high school had been Quaker] and they seem the best sort of folk to work with, I can see myself comfortably spending time there. And incidentally, some experience, however small, in publishing might prove useful—eventually.” It didn’t even occur to me that I might, as I did at my last internship, spend my days filing, photocopying, making coffee, drinking coffee, and filing some more; or, if the thought sometime surfaced, I thought little of it. So when I actually arrived and did not spend my days filing, I wasn’t so relieved as perhaps I should have been.
This is not to say, however, that I am ungrateful for my experiences here. The work has been compelling, the articles by turns stimulating and edifying, the professional environment educational, and the people all lovely—so much so, that even if they had just wanted from me coffee and mindless paperwork, I still would have had a nice experience. But of course, there was so much more.
As the previous interns said, the work mostly involved copyediting, becoming acquainted intimately with The Chicago Manual of Style (a charming, warm, and witty acquaintance), offering opinions of new submissions, and logging in revisions, but also at times suggesting poetry, helping with layout, on a few occasions performing drastic revisions (near surgical reconstructions) of articles with a good soul but troubled body, and sundry other tasks that needed doing. And like the other interns I too not merely felt my work appreciated but saw it incorporated into the finished product.
There are two kinds of internships available to students, internships where your help is sincerely needed, and internships where your help simply isn’t. The vast majority are of the second type, and Friends Journal is an outstanding member of this majority—outstanding, I say, because the whole staff here (it seems) colludes and conspires and successfully beguiles you into believing it to be of the first sort. The fact that nine months out of the year FJ functions perfectly well with maybe one or two interns sporadically coming and going is completely lost on you. My other internship this summer, the one that paid for train fare into and out of the city, was a genuinely of the first sort. The reason they were willing to pay for it was because they had no one else to do it—that is, because it was mind-numbingly tedious. Internships of this first sort are about the job to be done; internships at FRIENDS JOURNAL are about the interns and their internship. By taking interns, Friends Journal is performing a service to the hapless student, a supererogatory act of good works, a mitzvah, and they are so good at that service, so successfully integrating the intern into the workaday environment, that the intern is apt to forget that he or she is the one being served. As I prepare to leave at summer’s end, I am just realizing that this gracious service has been granted to me, and I am grateful for it.
Intern, 2007 Summer
As a returning intern (I was here in the summer of 2002), I decided to read over my previous write-up of my internship experience at Friends Journal before deciding what to write for this one. In scrolling down through all of the blurbs written by other interns that have spent time here since then, I was impressed by the many different backgrounds and experiences that led others to participate in this internship. I also noted all of the similarities between our experiences, in particular our enjoyment of staff meetings and our tendency to spend too much money at the Reading Terminal Market.
Since my summer here five years ago, there have been several changes in my life. I graduated from Haverford College in 2003, spent eight months in France teaching English to elementary school students, completed a two-year master’s program in Intercultural Communication at University of Pennsylvania, and started a PhD program in Communication at University of Massachusetts in Amherst. This past fall, during a lecture for a communication course at UMass for which I was the TA, the professor mentioned the unique way in which Quakers use silence. His discussion brought back memories of my time at Friends Journal. As I mentioned in my last write-up, although I came my first summer with the intention of learning more about publishing and copyediting, what influenced me the most was what I learned, as a non-Quaker, about Friends beliefs and values; and that is what brought me back. This summer I returned with the encouragement of my UMass advisor to learn more about Quakerism, and, in particular, distinctive Quaker communication practices such as the use of silence and the Quaker decision making process during business meetings.
During the summer, along with copyediting and helping out with other tasks in the office, I visited Friends Center, attended meeting for worship at Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, attended a meeting for business of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Interim Meeting, and participated in a workshop at Pendle Hill. I also read some academic works on Quakerism such as Richard Bauman’s Let Your Words Be Few: Symbolism of Speaking and Silence Among 17th-Century Quakers and Michael Sheeran’s Beyond Majority Rule: Voteless Decisions in the Religious Society of Friends. In looking back, I am very pleased with how much I have learned. I now feel more in touch with both Quaker concerns and practices and also somewhat more comfortable understanding “Quakerese.” There is still so much to read, learn, and experience, but I feel encouraged by my pre-dissertation research here to continue to explore the unique Friends worldview as embodied in their communication practices.
I want to say thank you to everyone at Friends Journal for making me feel so welcome. I think this office is a unique and encouraging workplace. In particular, I owe many thanks to Bob, who gave me much helpful advice on where to find more information, and who was also a great resource for any questions that I had. I enjoyed my quiet time reading in the back office, and I found my time here renewing as well as productive. And I don’t promise I won’t be back…
Intern, 2007 Summer
I’m taking a break from laying out the pages of Friends Journal to write this, but I don’t want to. It’s not that I mind writing about my fantastic internship here, it’s that I would rather not stop working and learning. Every day it’s something new: “Hey Breja, would you mind writing some acceptance letters to the authors?” “Would you mind reading these new submissions and telling us what you think?” “Do you have some input on how the art in our next issue should look?” “Can you do a final close read before we send this off to the printer?”
Sure thing. Consider it done. And that’s just a sampling.
I sat at the table during four interviews for positions within the Friends Journal team. I helped compile an anthology of published articles surrounding a topic of my choosing. I researched for a feature article that all the interns collaborated on. I began a lifelong career of making dorky inside jokes. Inside jokes! That means I’m inside!
The day I looked forward to every week was Wednesday: staff meeting day. Everyone from all departments gets together, the interns talk about what they’ve been doing, general communication occurs, and almost invariably someone has had a birthday or knows someone whose birthday it is, and we all eat cake. Okay, that’s an exaggeration: one time it was sticky buns. Then we go around in a circle and talk about ourselves, hold hands, and get back to work. It’s serious work, too, but when I had questions, I never felt afraid of asking anyone, or that I should already know the answer.
If I had these last three months to do all over again, I’d only change one thing: I’d stay longer.
Intern, 2007 Summer
Imagine walking into work on your first day and being told with a smile, “You have things to contribute here. We are happy that you are here. We just know that you will do good work, and there is a lot here that you can learn, too, if you’d like.” Everyone who works or interns at Friends Journal is welcomed and absorbed, their uniqueness accepted as beneficent to both staff and publication.
At the beginning the summer, I mostly sat in a giant cushy chair in the back room with a stack of manuscripts to work on. Some of them were new submissions, and I would add my own thoughts to a list of each intern and editor’s answer to the question: do we include this article? Some of them needed proofreading; paragraphs shifted, commas added, facts double-checked. I used this time to familiarize myself with Quaker writing and the Chicago Manual of Style. I was happy as a clam in that big squishy chair, relaxed in a place where at any given time, a dozen or so people would be industriously chipping away at the mountain of tasks that, when completed, would comprise one simple, black-and-white, 52-or-so-page JOURNAL.
But pretty soon I learned that the chair, although comfortable and warm in the chill of what I felt to be excessive central air, was not the wisest place to be. It was not so easy, stuck back in that corner, to eavesdrop on phone conversations that offered a front-row peep into the details of publishing. It was not a convenient position to volunteer from when Bob would say, “I have a project here. Would anyone like to work on it?” In the chair, I could only do the bare minimum.
So I started spending more time out of the chair. I input corrections that others marked on articles. I spent several afternoons folding paper boxes to create a diagram and a set of instructions for a Crafts department in the August issue. I had my name published next to a photo I took. I grabbed a notebook and headed down to Friends Center to interview a project coordinator for an article on how the building is “going green” that the interns were writing together. One day, I walked in to find every manuscript for the mammoth October special issue laid out on a long table. “We have a 6,000-word problem,” said Bob. “Let’s go through all of these and see what we can cut.” Eight hours of passing papers back and forth, slashing, restoring, and revising solved the problem. It was a lesson in teamwork and diplomacy. It felt good.
In addition to practicing my editing skills, learning about Quakers and Chicago Manual of Style style, and getting insight into the publishing world, I learned that while the staff at Friends Journal was ready to accept me as I was and even appreciate me, cushy chair and all, they also expected me to learn and grow. With this internship, I did.