Saturday, 11 December 2010

My First Day With Conde Nast!

20th September 2010

It is 16:22pm and I have nearly finished my first day as an Editorial Intern at Condé Nast Traveller Magazine in London.
This morning I thought I would die. I was convinced that I was going to be late, as this is the first time in ages that I have had to rely on my own (questionable) directional skills. Navigating London City with only half a contact lens in is not advisable. In the space of about an hour, my demeanour went from the blissful excitement that woke me up this morning, to the sheer panic that I felt when signs for the Victoria Line seemingly vanished.
I woke up at 8:00am in order to meet the lovely Editorial Assistant Alice at 10:30am. I hopped into the bath at my aunt’s house and washed my hair, since it didn’t quite have the right amount of ‘spring’ to it when I rolled out of bed. I painted my ‘special occasion’ Benefit makeup on with military precision, and then began to get dressed. What does one wear to a ‘smart/casual’ office which just happens to share a building with the likes of Vogue, Vanity Fair and Tatler? Definitely NOT the ‘jeans and a t-shirt’ that Alice had confirmed would be ‘fine’ a couple of weeks ago. Oh no. I put on some golden tapered trousers new from Topshop, a brown pair of brogues with cream laces new from Dorothy Perkins, a long-sleeved cream t-shirt old from Abercrombie and Fitch, a luxurious fur gilet new from Topshop and a tan ‘I mean business’ satchel/briefcase, which yes, you’ve guessed it, is new from Topshop. Well, you know they say dress for the job you want, not the job you’ve got, so I channelled the ‘Editor-in-Chief of Vogue’ which I know I have in me, and marched out of the front door.
Within seconds my confident attitude had gone. Waiting at an unfamiliar bus stop, not knowing when the bus would arrive, how long it would take to get to my tube station at East Finchely and not knowing when to get off. But before I knew it I was enjoying the ride and waiting for the notification that I had requested from my bus driver as to where my stop was.
I felt like I was running late. By the time I got to East Finchely it was already twenty-five past nine and I hadn’t even topped up my Oyster card yet for London travel. Shoving £10 into the machine and running onto the Southbound platform meant that I got straight onto my train. Success! Now this is where my whining starts. Why are people so rude on the tube? It’s almost as if there is some kind of negative energy force field which compels Londoners to create an impenetrable barrier with their copy of whichever superior book they are currently ‘reading’, or pound their music so loud that their eardrums may burst. Well, whatever, I thought as a kindly looking old lady had blanked the grin I flashed her as I landed on the train just as the doors shut on my back. Fine, you don’t want to be nice, do I care? No I don’t. And so I topped up my makeup after confirming that I would change at Euston and get the Victoria Line for two stops until I reached Oxford Circus.
I became one of the rude Londoners in seconds. I found myself shoving past people on the Underground, asserting myself with a gruff ‘Excuse me’ on the escalator when tourists were loitering up the left side. What had I turned into? A city girl. And I had better get used to it.
At Oxford Circus station one of the stroppy Tube Men told me that I needed Exit 3 to get to where I was going, and I was off again, pushing and jostling and even elbowing one foreign pervert. Luckily the directions were fairly straight forward, and not even a monkey could have gotten lost.
There it was, the grandly-named Vogue House. And what a dump it looked. No offense, but I was expecting a big white chocolate building bathed in sunlight, not dissimilar to the one Oliver Twist stood in whilst chirping ‘Who will buy?’ And yet, the concrete jungle surrounded by a mass of other buildings covered in scaffolding faced me head on, as if to say, ‘What? Are you going to throw away this opportunity because I’m ugly?’ It challenged me to enter, and never being one to turn down a challenge, (after double coating my lipstick) I followed a pretty girl inside, and I was automatically glad that I had.
Even the security reception area was glamorous, with a copy of each magazine Condé Nast create framed onto the wall. After asking for Alice and saying my name, I sank into a plush red leather sofa and thought, ‘Today will be a good day’.
I got directed up to the sixth floor and as the elevator doors opened I saw the great big silver magazine title signs were revealed. I was stood at the point where Condé Nast Traveller and Brides Magazines meet. When Alice opened the door I was in a complete daze which she had to snap me out of by saying, ‘Are you Gabriella?’
Alice is lovely. She looks young enough to be your friend, yet sensible enough to be professional. She has beachy blond hair, one of the most naturally pretty faces you can ever imagine and an effortlessly cool sense of style. Guess what she was wearing? Jeans and a t-shirt.
I blabbered some rubbish about being surprised I didn’t get too lost, and she made me feel at ease immediately, showing me my new desk surrounded by different people involved in the editorial team. She gave me the Work Experience Handbook and told me to give it a quick read before sorting through the weekend newspapers.
Here at Traveller (I love saying that) we keep all the past week’s newspapers. Each time a new paper comes out, we replace the old one and so on and so forth. With it just being the weekend I had to sort through Saturday, Sunday and Monday’s papers, taking out all of the supplements (especially the Travel Supplements) and putting them into their relevant slots. After sorting through all of these, it was post time! I sorted the post into the separate piles necessary for a smooth distribution. This was a great way of learning everyone’s names. Everyone was really nice as I was giving out the post, asking how long I will be here, what I will be up to etc. After doing the post, I had a little mini-tour of our floor, saw where all the old magazines are stored, visited the travel library and learnt how to operate my new best friend; The Photocopier.
Alice had some work to be getting on with so she went to do that at her desk near mine, whilst I had a more thorough look at the Work Experience Handbook. It’s quite good really, and with the assistance of this I began sorting through the mass of emails which come into Condé Nast Traveller daily. There were so many competition entries that I had to divide into winners and losers, tons of press releases that I needed to forward to the correct editors, and a mass of work experience, writing, photography and illustration enquiries. It made me think, ‘You want to work here, and I’m actually here!’ A little like a celebrity I guess!
Before I knew it, it was already 12:30pm, so I had to run some post down to the mailroom (where the men cannot speak English and are so mean I bet they wouldn’t even if they could!) Also, I met an absolute bitch in the elevator on the way back up. She pressed number five whilst I pressed six, and feeling a little more confident than earlier I asked, ‘What is on the fifth floor?’ This is how the conversation went;
‘Vogue. And the fifth?’
‘And you work there?’ (This was asked with a disbelieving look on her face.
‘I am interning for the next three weeks.’
‘Oh me too. Iloveitit’samazinglikejustthismorningeveryoneinmyofficewastalkingaboutLondon fashionweekandiwaslikeohmygodi’mreallyhere.’ And then she got out of the elevator. Yes, I’m really enjoying my placement so far too, thanks for asking. Cow.
Anyway, I sorted through a couple more emails and then jogged off for my lunch at around one-ish.
There is a lovely little sushi bar right next to Vogue House, so I popped into there, even though I am on the Special K diet until the end of October. I treated myself to some Edamame beans with a sweet chilli dressing, called my mom and boyfriend to let them know that Condé Nast is nowhere near as grim as my first impression had led me to believe, wandered around the leafy square before going straight back to work. An hour long lunch break is too long when you love your job! And you know, as I walked back the sun was shining and there were tons of fashionable London people bustling around, and for some reason, Vogue House looked so much more glamorous.
I went back ten minutes early, and got back to work, looking through, forwarding, responding to and deleting emails as necessary. I looked over the old Work Experience Handbook to see if there were any tips or tricks that hadn’t been mentioned in the new one, and a piece of advice for what to do if you are bored occupied my next hour or so. Not that I was bored, I just felt like I had completed one task and wanted to move onto another, so I began going through the piles of magazines which have been popped onto the ‘recent areas of interest’-type pile. I removed anything older than a couple of months and filed them with their even older counterparts (or ‘back-issues’ as we call it in the magazine world), and then organised the remaining magazines into piles according to their general topic, such as food, travel, fashion, politics, economics etc.
I bet Alice must have thought me an idiot, as this took so long. Alice is the editors PA, also known as the Editorial Assistant. I think that basically makes her the second most important person at the whole magazine, as she seems to be the only one who the editor (Sarah Miller) ever talks to. Plus, her name is second in the list of names in the magazine masthead, so that has to count for something, right? Considering she looks so young, she seems to have gone far already. She is my idol. Haha.
And here I am now. Just about to pop the last bits of mail for today into the mailroom before having a mooch over the magazine. I have emailed Matt Buck from the photography team already to compliment his work on the Gothenburg Sweden feature in next month’s edition, and he has offered to let me shadow him a little; no I don’t want to be a photographer, but there is much more to his job than that as he told me in his response email so I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from him on Thursday when I return to London. No experience is a bad experience. Or is that supposed to be publicity . . .
Well, whatever.
The only thing that I’m not too keen on is the fact that the office is so quiet! It’s that quiet that you can hear other people holding their breath, just so they don’t break the streak of hush. Matt even joked when I mentioned it and said that our office is known as the Silent Witness. At least I think he was joking.
Just before the end of the day I will print off the last few ‘Where are you now?’ competition entries, and put them into the correct boxes, giving each reader an equal chance at winning a holiday in Thailand. Lucky them!
Anyway, it is off to Birmingham for two days now, so as I flick my computer off and clean my desk, I kind of marvel at the way that the day has turned out, and I hope that every day will be as dream-worthy.

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