What It’s Really Like To Do A Travel Writing Internship: My Experience at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

 

It’s 2:30pm on a sunny Friday afternoon in February. It’s 15 degrees, unusually warm for this time of year given that we’re still in winter, and I’m sat on a rooftop terrace overlooking London’s epic skyline. Balancing my Uncle Ben’s rice pot in one hand, and my paperback book in the other, I’m savouring one whole hour of ‘me’ time whilst on my lunch break at the end of my first week as an intern. It’s a funny word, intern. It sounds alien, strange even, and makes me think of a character in some trashy American sitcom.

 

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This is the face of a girl who's just finished her last Monday at work! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ฌ Really excited to share some news with you all… ๐Ÿ™ˆ 1. I'm quitting my job (again) sorry mum ๐Ÿ˜‚ 2. I've been offered an internship at the Sunday Times Travel Magazine to see how the world of journalism works! Roll on 2 weeks in London for lots of learning ๐Ÿ’ป 3. In March I'm off to travel round Australia all by myself! This trip is an absolute dream come true and I can't wait to spend 6 weeks exploring the other side of the world ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ After that I've got trips to Scotland, Spain, Italy & Greece lined up between May & September so I've got another busy year of travel coming up and I couldn't be more excited! ๐ŸŒ I've taken another leap of faith to give myself a better and brighter future and I'm soooo ready for my new chapter to begin!! 2019, let's do thissss ๐Ÿ™Œ #MondayMotivation #NewBeginnings #BringItOn

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At 26 years old, I’ve become an intern for the first time. I’ve done work experience in the past (as a shy 16 year old at an estate agents whilst doing my GCSE’s) but I never thought that I’d be in a similar position a whole ten years later. The truth is, I’m at a weird stage in my life. I’ve just quit my full time job at a luxury travel company in order to take a leap of faith, step into the unknown and trust that it’ll all be ok. Last week I returned from my epic trip to Australia, where I was on a 6 week adventure to try and ‘find myself’. It’s something I’d wanted to do for a long time, and I finally had the courage (and money) to be able to do it. Before that though, I pushed myself out my comfort zone in a totally different way. My two week internship was at the Sunday Times in London, working on their travel magazine department. I applied for the position after seeing an advert on Twitter, and didn’t expect to hear anything at all until I got an email back asking when I could start! I was so excited, and completely nervous, but really looking forward to trying my hand at something new, and gaining an insight into the world of travel writing on a professional level rather than just in the blogosphere.

My first day didn’t get off to a great start. My train from Oxford was delayed after an attempted suicide on the line (poor soul) and it took me over 3 hours to get to London Bridge, where the office is based in the News Building, right next to The Shard. When I eventually turned up I was a bag of nerves; late, sweating, lost because Google maps had me running round in circles. It wasn’t ideal, but as I straightened myself out in the bathroom mirror and topped up my make up, I started to breathe and calm down; ‘you can do it Jess’ I whispered to myself, encouraged by a text from my mum wishing me luck.

 

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First day of my internship at The Sunday Times = COMPLETE! โœ… The day started horrendously when my train was delayed because of an attempted suicide and it took over 2 hours to get to London! ๐Ÿ˜ฉ Then I got lost and couldn't find the office (google maps is a liar) and I walked round in circles for 20 mins on what should have been a 3 min walk ๐Ÿ™ˆ Then when I finally turned up all hot and sweaty (and late) my friggin suitcase got stuck in the posh carousel door that twirls round and I got stuck with it and it was SO EMBARRASSING ๐Ÿ˜‚ I'm not sure I'm made for London life but on the plus side I got to do some writing for the magazine today and tomorrow I'm doing some Instagram work with them so it's not all bad! ๐Ÿ˜ Time to settle down in my cosy room and get a good nights sleep before day 2 begins tomorrow! Ya gal needs to catch some Z's ๐Ÿ˜ด I hope your Monday was less stressful than mine! ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ˜‚ #internshipproblems #notcutoutforthis #londonlife

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Week one has certainly been an eye opener. It’s so different to anything I’ve ever done before and not what I expected at all. I’ve been fact-checking, reading, researching and writing and I’ve actually taken on more responsibility than I thought, after having visions that all I’d be useful for was doing a bit of proof reading and making the tea. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times where I’ve had barely anything to do and have been twiddling my thumbs but, for the most part, I have been a busy bee and have been getting totally stuck in.

Fact checking can feel like a chore at times, constantly having to read and re-read every word and every sentence to check that a) it’s correct b) it’s relevant and c) there are no grammar issues. It can be very repetitive, scanning through reams of text and analysing every single word, as well as ringing phone numbers and checking websites to make sure they’re correct. Although it’s tedious, fact-checking has been useful and has helped me understand just how much work goes in to a travel magazine, and how accurate you have to be before anything even goes to print.

I struck lucky on the third day, when I was asked to write a piece for the Take Me There section of the magazine, which is the part where words are needed to complement eye-catching images that take up the entire page. I was tasked with writing a piece about Gdansk, a destination I’ve never even been to. Although I was super excited, my hands were trembling as I took to the keyboard. Usually I can bash out a paragraph of text in less than 20 minutes, but when you’re writing for a magazine, and you’re trying to impress people, things become a whole lot scarier. It took me around 4 hours to put that paragraph together, and I had to re write it twice after my feedback was that my writing was ‘solid’ but a little ‘guide booky’. Finally, after 3 attempts, my piece was approved and sent off to the publishing team ready to appear in the May issue of the magazine! I couldn’t believe it! I was thrilled that the team had even liked my writing, let alone approved it to be published, and getting a by-line in one of the UKs biggest travel magazines will surely give my CV an added boost.

 

 

By the end of the second week I’d done even more fact checking and researching, as well as putting together some ideas for the next issues Take Me There section. I’d also spent a few hours going through the magazines’ Instagram account and giving it a little critique, sharing my feedback and passing on some ideas of how to improve it. This is something I really enjoyed, and it made me realise just how much I love social media, although I’m not sure I could do it as a job! The rest of the week was spent assisting the team with anything they needed and I got a real feel for magazine and editorial life. Unfortunately I had to cut the internship short by a couple of days due to issues with my commute from Oxford, but I still feel I had a good amount of time in the role.

Overall I had a great experience interning at the Sunday Times Travel Magazine. I got a real insight into the world of professional travel writing and now have a much better understanding of how editing, publishing and production works. It’s also made me realise two important things:

  1. I don’t ever want to live in London. Nobody talks to each other, everyone’s rushing around in a hurry and in truth I found it a little lonely. Sure I love visiting London, but gimme back my countryside life any day of the week, I am so not a city girl!
  2. I don’t actually want to go into journalism. I love writing, but I love blogging more. I love the freedom and creativity that comes with blogging, and I love the voice it gives me. Journalism is very strict and formal and I just don’t think it suits my style and my creative streak, but it’s not a bad thing, I’m glad I’ve discovered this now rather than paying to do a journalism course or taking a job on something I wasn’t sure about.

Have you ever done an internship before? How did you feel about it? I’d love to know what career breaks you’ve taken before. Big thanks to Alex and the rest of the Sunday Times Travel Magazine team for looking after me during my internship!

 

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That's a wrap! My internship at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine has come to an end ๐Ÿ’ป I've had a great couple of weeks learning about the world of journalism and I even got to write an article that got approved and will be published in the May issue of the magazine which means… MY NAME WILL BE IN PRINT! ๐Ÿ—ž It's been a great experience but I can't wait to come home – I'm not sure London life is meant for me as I've spent the majority of the time getting lost and ending up in places I didn't even know existed, and no one smiles or talks on the tube which makes it soooo lonely ๐Ÿ˜ญ Until next time, London, I won't be back for a while! ๐Ÿ‘‹ Ps. Omg forgot I'm there Tuesday to fly to Australia ๐Ÿ˜‚โœˆ๏ธ #whatislife

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