By Kristin Doherty
A few weeks ago, Women’s Wear Daily reported that magazine publishing powerhouse Nast nixed its internship program. The decision follows a series of lawsuits regarding not paying or underpaying interns. Condé Nast’s bold choice leaves college students and editors alike with questions.
While interns aren’t often with their not-so-glamorous responsibilities in the magazine office, the tasks they complete make the publication run. Without fashion interns carrying bags of accessories all over Manhattan, how will Vogue get what it needs for photo shoots? Who will do the fact-checking for The New Yorker?
On the one hand, the lack of interns could mean more work for the lower-level editors. Or, in the best-case scenario, it could mean the magazines will need to hire more entry-level (and therefore paid) positions to complete these tasks. And you know what that means: more jobs for college grads. Chandra Turner—the founder of Ed2010—told Racked that she thinks that will be the case.
But that leads to another question:
Where will college students get magazine experience?
Editors hiring entry-level journalists look for lots of experience, but if there are fewer internships available, it’ll be more difficult for students to get experience that will stand out on a resume.
But, that could be good news for students: Editors may have to lower their expectations, taking off some of the pressure for college students to take unpaid internships in the Big Apple. Internships at smaller magazine and involvement with student publications could carry more weight.
What about networking?
Without internships at this magazine dynamo, how will entry-level editors get their foot in the door? There’s always informational interviews to fall back on, but a 30-minute conversation over coffee is hardly enough time for an editor to tell if a recent college grad is fit for a job at the publication.
This, again, could actually be good news for magazine hopefuls. It may discourage the importance of “who you know” in the industry, and editors may actually have to look at the resumes of people they don’t know. Then, this would allow students who haven’t had a chance to network in New York the opportunity to get their foot in the door.
What does this mean for other magazine publishing internships?
Will Hearst, Meredith, and Time Inc. follow Condé Nast’s lead in cutting out internships all together? Meredith and Time Inc. already pay their interns—and unless they can’t afford it in the future, they’ll have no reason to cut back. Hearst—which doesn’t pay its interns, but is very strict about them receiving academic credit—is in the clear, perhaps until a lawsuit creeps up on them.