A Day in the Life of a Creative Intern [Interview]

by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: January 08, 2017

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“The people who work at Cosmopolitan are not just workers, they’re readers – and believers.”

Everyone knows the iconic fashion magazine brand, Cosmopolitan. The publication was first founded in the USA and is now published in over 100 countries.

In collaboration with this legendary magazine, Open Colleges was recently able to offer one online student the chance of a lifetime – to be an intern at Cosmo and gain a real, working knowledge of how the publication runs. 

Ellee Hc, creative intern at Cosmopolitan Australia

Ellee Hc is currently studying the Certificate IV in Design (Digital Design) online with Open Colleges. “It’s really interesting so far learning about all design history,” she says

This savvy student mentions that she first saw the Open Colleges Cosmopolitan internship competition on her Facebook feed. “It came up on my homepage - probably because I like Cosmo! I gave myself a reminder to enter it.”

Ellee had some publishing experience already, having out together her own online magazine, called YOLO (You Only Live Once), a mix of fashion, images and quirky styling that she shares with an online audience in the thousands. 

“Having done my own little YOLO magazine, I had some idea of how a magazine works, but for a big-time publication like Cosmo, things were quite different!”

She worked closely with the magazine’s editorial coordinator (and PA to editor Claire Askew) Joshua Joynes. “Josh is amazing,” explains Ellee. “He’s so friendly and he’s basically like everyone’s best friend. He’s so lovely.”

“Our digital team was blown away by Ellee’s skills,” Josh says, “she picked up our CMS system (content management system) in just a couple of days. I think having a strong graphic design background was very advantageous to Ellee.”

Ellee’s time at Cosmo was spent in various digital departments 

Day in the life of an intern at Cosmopolitan on the couch

When Ellee first walked into Cosmo, she says the atmosphere was electric. “It was pretty great and I didn't really know what to expect. “When at Cosmopolitan, I mainly worked in the digital departments.  That’s where we focused on uploading all the articles onto the website and scheduling the Facebook posts.”

Ellee explains some of the work she did there, “I worked on articles from Cosmo US and Cosmo UK where we were tasked with going through them, and changing some of the wording, for example, if the copy was too Americanised.”

Josh mentions that Ellee worked in editorial, digital and art, “So she really did get an all-encompassing feel for what goes on here,” he explains. “We were able to give her exposure to styling and to international content. We always like to work with interns that are in our demographic (women 18-30), so Ellee was a great match.” 

Ellee soon gained confidence in her work too, Josh says. “She was pitching story ideas to us and working with Getty picture files which need to be restyled and reworked for our Instagram feed. As she’s a graphic designer this was something Ellee was really confident with. She was a great asset to ‘digi’. Ellee really flourished.” 

Ellee also says that she enjoyed working with a variety of different roles when on the publication. “I also got to spend some time with Lauren in the art department (one of the designers) meaning that I actually got to work on the next issue of the magazine. It can be a very interesting process. The art department must bind the folder with all the printouts of the next issue - and they’re not (at that stage) perfect. They’re like a proof or a mock-up.”

Learning the ins and outs of the whole process was entirely unique. “I have to say I was pretty excited about the whole thing! My experience at Cosmo was a little bit like in the movie, The Devil Wears Prada. I got to work on Instagram images, editing creative work, having to ensure that images were available to the digital team to put online.” 

The highlights and behind the scenes vibe at the Cosmopolitan office 

You would expect the team at such a well-known publication to be engaged and switched on, and Josh says that this is absolutely the case! “The best thing about working for Cosmo is the team,” according to the editorial coordinator. “100% - there is no doubt about it!”

“It’s so wonderful to be surrounded by people so incredibly hard working and intelligent and who are so focused and passionate about our brand,” Josh says. “They’re not just workers, they’re readers – and believers.” That’s why Ellee was such a great match as an intern. 

“Our team understands exactly what they want out of everything – they know exactly what the Cosmo reader wants because they have worked with, and loved, the brand for so long. We really live and breathe the Cosmopolitan ethos.”

But it’s got to be a challenge for a relative newbie, right? Were people impressed with Ellee’s work?  Josh says they most certainly were! “I literally just went around the office and spoke to everyone there and everyone was so impressed with Ellee.”

“Ellee took every day as it comes and she impressed us with her overall effort and just her attitude: nothing was too big or too small for her. She tackled everything head on. She was a great asset to the team.”

As well as this, Josh mentions that the time Ellee spent at Cosmo was a typically busy one. “As we were on a deadline, everything was really hectic the week that Ellee was with us. We had to wind up the magazine in the four days that Ellee was here so it was great for her to witness that.” 

“It was important for her to see how all the work translates into the final edition; how all the images and the stories and the cover all come together. It was auspicious for her to witness that and gave her a well-rounded experience as to how everything is finally put together.” 

Ellee’s career goals – what will this online student do next? 

“I am really excited about pursuing a career in graphic design,” Ellee says. “I’ve been running my own design freelance business for about eight years or so now, which I started in high school. In 2014, in January, I started YOLO magazine, my digital magazine.”

“It’s pretty cool!  I was doing that for two years – it’s hard to do your own magazine and basically work full-time as well, so that’s been on the back burner since I went to Sydney earlier this year, but I’ve been doing that for numerous years and it’s been great for experience.” 

“My five-year dream would probably just be to grow my freelance design business. I love designing. It’s my passion and it’s what I’m good at, and when you love something, you work harder for it, so you become better.”

“With YOLO magazine, I’d really love to figure out the new direction with that and get that going and make it one of Australia’s favourite digital magazines or perhaps even take it international!”

Josh’s career at Cosmopolitan 

Josh has a gig that many people would be envious of. “I am the Editorial Coordinator of Cosmopolitan,” he explains. “I wanted to get into fashion, so I originally I attended a fashion college in Glebe NSW. I was there for about a year while also doing a freelance business on the side. Then when a role at Cosmo came up, I went for it.” 

Working at the iconic fashion brand means that there is never a dull day. “It’s been an amazing experience; the team are so lovely. I’ve been working on many elements of fashion and the editorial side, how the magazine gets put out.”

Another thing that Josh and Ellee loved about Cosmo was the new focus on career and work lifestyle the magazine has been promoting. “Claire [Askew, the editor of Cosmo] has been one of the most amazing and inspirational people I have ever worked with,” Josh explains. “Claire is very involved on every level and has a very clear understanding of what she wants and what our audience wants to see in every issue.”

How to kick goals as a creative intern 

“If I had to give any tips as to what to do at your first internship, I’d say that’s if it’s where you think your passion lies - just do it - apply for it! You never know what’s going to happen," says Ellee. "Interning was a great experience and if you do get a chance to get an internship at a magazine like Cosmo, try and pick up everything that you can. Take notice of every detail.”

“The best thing you can do to prepare yourself for an internship is not to come in expecting anything. You may be asked to do anything, so you’ve got to have a flexible attitude," Josh adds. "The week Ellee was at Cosmo we were heading to publishing, (or “sending to print” as we say) so it was an incredibly hectic week. You really just have to be prepared for any scenario at any time. Dani had Ellee on a location shoot at one stage too, so you have to be prepared to do anything that comes up. Ellee handled every single task.” 

Best (and favourite!) graphic design programs 

Ellee mentions that there are a few tools she uses more than most. “In terms of graphic design programs, my top three programs are:

  1. Photoshop: I love Photoshop. I’ve loved Photoshop for a very long time. 
  2. InDesign: This is really good to learn. I think any designer needs to know it like the back of their hand! 
  3. Illustrator: I’m loving it at the moment. All of these programs are part of the Adobe Suite."

Ellee’s graphic design images 

“My image [above] is a task I did. I created a photo gallery on celebrity break-ups and because Taylor Swift is so well known for her relationships (and her break ups!) when I came home from Sydney, I designed that.”


 

“I also did a design [above] with an Opal card on it. This piece was to show 'my daily essentials' from when I was in Sydney. Because I’m from Brisbane, I had to get around using trains and buses so I used my Opal card every day, so it was one of 'my essentials'. My phone goes everywhere with me. My go-to lipstick colour is like red, so I always have that on me. My makeup bag and my perfume, all essentials!”

What’s coming up next year in Cosmo?

'Josh is keeping quiet! “In terms of 'sneak peeks” about what’s coming up in Cosmo, I really can’t give too much away! But I can say that a focus on career and work has become our editor’s focus. We want to create stories that are relevant to our readers – stories that are realistic and that resonate with them.” 

“We also have some amazing fashion stories coming up – we have just been overseas (I won’t say where) but it will be a bit of a scoop! It’s going to be crazy.” 

What’s next for Ellee?

This online student just wants to keep on doing what she loves – graphic and digital design. “I am lucky to be able to say that honestly, my career is my hobby. When I’m not working, I’m sort of still working. I love designing.”

“So when I’m not working on a client design or the magazines, I'm doing little mock-up designs like I’ve done Justin Bieber, like mock-up cereal boxes and the Taylor Swift album, that was a mock-up that I did on my spare time. I’m really into photography as well, so my creative career is basically my creative life.”

Open Colleges offers a range of courses in graphic and digital design. From pathway programs to diplomas, certificates and fundamentals courses, there is an option to suit any current level of experience. Learn more here, or download a free course guide below.

 

Yvette McKenzie

Yvette

Is the content strategist at Open Colleges. She has over a decade of professional experience at some of Australia’s largest media corporations, including Southern Cross Austereo and the Macquarie Media Network. With a degree in Communications (majoring in Journalism), she covers stories on education, new knowledge technologies and independent learning.

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