Luke’s words of work experience wisdom

14 02 2013

Fresh from completing his studies here at Brighton Journalist Works, we sent Luke Holmes off for some work experience at Esquire magazine and then Men’s Health.

Here’s what he had to say about his time on two of Britain’s most high profile titles:

“I arrived at Esquire magazine on the Monday morning of my work experience not knowing what to expect. I was then taken on a brief walk around the office by the Chief Sub-Editor who introduced me to the reasonably friendly, but also extremely busy staff.

During my two week stay, I worked with the sub-editing team which consisted of two full-time employees (Chief and Deputy Sub-Editor).

One of the first things that struck me was the magazine office environment. Up to this point, I had only worked in newspaper journalism so I was used to the phone ringing every ten seconds and the panic slowly building as deadlines sneak closer. The magazine industry has more of an emphasis on producing top quality copy rather than fast and proficiently written copy.

 Esquire only goes to print once a month so all departments have plenty of time to ensure that the design, photography and the copy are of the highest quality. I got to edit the work of both Giles Coren and Tom Parker Bowles but before I did so I was warned that Giles was a particularly tricky customer. I was directed to read this letter (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jul/23/mediamonkey) before I decided to omit or add any syllables of is work.

If you are to complete your experience at Esquire I would recommend that you get familiar with the magazine’s style of writing as they are very particular about phraseology. All aspects of the magazine seamlessly tie in together, even when it contains work from half a dozen different contributors (Will Self, Max Olesker etc.).

You will be asked to do a lot of fact checking in the articles that you sub. I also cannot emphasis how carefully these articles have to be read and checked. One mistake I missed, which I was particularly annoyed about (and tamely scolded for) was the word ‘brasserie’ (meaning a posh but relaxed French restaurant) which was mistakenly spelt ‘brassiere’ (meaning an item of women’s undergarment) in an article about to go to print. It just goes to show question the placement of every ‘i’ and ‘e’ in the copy you receive.

On a more obvious note, if you are not familiar with Apple systems, this could be a serious hindrance. In my experience, 99% of the magazine industry in London uses the Apple iMac, so not knowing how to use the system would be generally annoying for the sub-editors who are, to be frank, probably too busy to teach you how to use it.

Esquire shares a floor with Elle, Red and Bazaar magazines so there is an array of fashionable London media types throughout the entire office, as well as stylists who frantically scramble through racks and racks of clothes (which sometimes are all over the office floor) seeking the latest fashions to be featured in the various magazines.

It is important to remember that you are in there to learn. They do not expect you to show up as someone that is on the brink of revolutionising the magazine business. They expect a relatively inexperienced NCTJ graduate (which I was and you  probably will be), so be there to learn and not to impress. Trying too hard to make a good impression will probably lead to resentment more than impressing anyone.

After a happy two-week stay, I went to Men’s Health which is located only five minutes down the road from Esquire.

At Men’s Health, I was working with two other journalists who are also proficient at coding and web design. Using basic coding I helped them to transfer articles from the printed publication and convert and upload them on to the website. We used re-wrote articles to be more suited to the online audience.  If you have a background in an unusual mix of healthy living, coding and journalism you will absolutely flourish in your time here.

It’s interesting how the personalities of the staff reflect the publications. The staff in Esquire are very fashionable and enjoy the finer things in life whilst the Men’s Health staff all run down to the gym on their lunch break and return, often sweaty, drinking protein shakes. So it seems if you are wanting to work for one of these publications, it is important to live the lifestyles that they portray in their magazines. This makes sense really. Would you take men’s  health advice from someone who wasn’t healthy themselves?”

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