Friday, 7 January 2011

Day Three at Traveller!

24th September 2010

Perhaps I spoke too soon about Sarah. She has smiled at me a couple of times today and even asked, ‘Are you alright?’ as she passed me. I think perhaps she is just shy. Either way, she’s definitely NOT Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

It is half five and boy oh boy have I been a busy bee! Last night I sent an email round to everyone in the office, to remind them basically that I am here for work experience and not for ‘sitting-staring-at-a-blank-computer-screen’ experience. I asked them to give me some jobs to do, like ANY jobs. I think the words were ‘no matter how menial or time consuming’. And wow, did they deliver? Oh yes! Nothing that I have done today is boring, but almost everything was time consuming.

You see, first thing today the silly old post people hadn’t brought up the post, and they didn’t until about quarter to eleven! I know, what are they paid to do, eh? Anyway, because our post wasn’t here, I was free so I went upstairs to help them with theirs at I met some cool people and again, their office was so much more animated than ours. When I had finished doing that I checking my emails and I had loads from different editors and subs asking me to do different things. I’ve been so busy that I have had to leave blogging until now when I have practically no time in which to do it, so I’m literally going to list my different tasks in as brief a manner as I physically can. Here goes . . .

1) I photocopied two whole features from the April and June issues, as a lady from an architect firm told us that we had written about a couple of hotels which she had worked on and she wanted to obtain some print-outs.

2) I called four hotels in Nairobi to check what their cheapest double rooms cost during low season and to confirm that their phone numbers were operating. That will go into the little blurb at the end of mini features, for example ‘Double rooms with breakfast starting at £97, for more information contact that hotel on blablabla or visit their website’. It was very funny though, because all of the people who work in the hotels are African and didn’t really understand my accent so I prepared what I would say to make it more clear and concise and put on a posh voice. I said, ‘Hello, this is Gabriella Buxton calling from Condé Nast Traveller magazine and I just wanted to check over a couple of prices with you if that’s ok? How much would your cheapest double bedroom cost in low season? Thanks that’s great. Bye.’

3) I called four hotels in the UK and basically did the same thing, except at one place the man was so pompous who answered the phone. That feature will be about pub inns and places like that, you know, barn conversion B and B’s and the like, so the man on the phone was not a trained-in-customer-service reception assistant, but some posh country bloke who thought it would be a laugh to stick a hotel in his shed. He was all, ‘Can I ahhhsk when the feature will be printed. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Well, you will post me a copy wohhhhhnt you? Very well. Pip pip. Tallyho.’ Ok, so he didn’t say those last two bits, but he may as well have done.

4) In Traveller magazine there is a monthly feature called That was Then and it basically tells the story of what something was like in the olden days, eg. New York City, Boeing 747, The Titanic etc. This feature has run since the first ever copy of the magazine was printed, in October 1997. I basically had to create an index of every single topic ever explored by the feature which involved a lot of huffing and puffing pulling big heavy magazines out of really over-packed and high up cupboards. I was knackered by the end of it! But I got the job done, and tidied all of the back-issues while I was at it. A job well done I would say.

5) Finally, I have saved the best for last. I am going to have a piece published on the website!!! I will be an official Condé Nast writer! One of the girls from the website team asked me to ‘do a bit of writing for her’. A ‘bit of writing’ in her opinion is a 300 word PUBLISHED PIECE!!! Ok, so I’m over-using the exclamation marks, so sue me, I’m excited! Anyway, I did my first draft and it was crap with a capital K. J Well she hasn’t sent it back to me yet, but I know it was crap, I didn’t even know how to start so it must have been crap. Anyway, she said she will give me some notes for me to edit it with a couple of times, and it should be on the website next week. I will also post it on here, so you can all see.

Also, something else I have learnt is that just because people aren’t super-gobby, they are really nice and sociable. The two girls who sent me a job each are called Laura and Hazel and they are both so nice. There is another girl called Nell and she is really sweet too to the extent where her and Hazel were fishing around their loose change when they knew I didn’t have any cash for the tampon machine. One of the guys who gave me another job just came over to tell me that they were all going to the pub and did I want to come. I WISH I wasn’t going to Birmingham tonight, because I would have loved to be there and see what everyone is like in a sociable environment.

So in all today has been amazing, which was completely unexpected as I just got my monthly blood curse this morning and it usually makes me lose the will to live. Ooh, and also when I was eating my Special K and mango for my lunch, I went into the travel library and found a book about Florida. Result!

Finally, I am now the last one in the office, so I will very quickly tell you about some other free stuff we had in today. One of the guys was sent a box of health foods, which included little boxes of olives, chilli nuts, dried pineapple and coconut and some other lush stuff, so I’ve been snacking all day but it’s all really healthy so I feel great! Anyway, I’d better get off before the tube station shuts again.

Day Two at Traveller!

23rd September 2010

Oh my God is it hot in here? It’s like an OVEN. Plus I have done quite a lot of exercising work today. It is nearly four o’ clock and I have spent most of my day reaching high into shelves full of travel books in order to organise them into correct alphabetical order. There are hundreds of books, and basically, when a writer wants to write a piece on a city they help themselves for research. However, when they have finished their research, the cheeky little blighters go and put the books back in the wrong place now, don’t they? Enter Gabbi. I come along and put all the books in alphabetical order according to the country which they refer to, so that the naughty writers can go and do it all over again tomorrow. I don’t mind though; it has kept me busy and I love when I get a big job like that done. The shelves look nice and tidy now, and I have pulled the spines of all of the books forward so they look super neat and even.

I arrived to work an hour (!) early this morning. I guess when my dad gives me a lift to the tube station and I know where I’m going I don’t need to set aside an hour and a half for travel time. It was ok though, it meant I could wander around the area. I discovered this amazing sandwich shop where they do like, a million different fillings on all kinds of bread. It looks lush there, and isn’t too expensive either. If only I wasn’t back on the Special K diet again, I could pig out a lot.

I also had my first ‘coffee’ today. I went to the tiny café in the offices and had an espresso with two sugars. It wasn’t too bad really. I guess coffee just isn’t my thing. I couldn’t believe how small the café is! It’s called Tony’s and I think that literally only Tony works there. No wonder Alice didn’t plug the café when I asked where I could go for lunch . . .

I had a small handful of Special K for my lunch and half a pot of sundried tomatoes with mozzarella balls. It was really good, apart from the fact that the inside of my bag had a little oil in it. I managed to mop it up though, so no harm done.

I did a ton of photocopying earlier on. Sarah (the Editor) had stuck post it notes in about ten different magazines, and wanted the spreads on those pages to be copied for in a meeting tomorrow or something like that. I love photocopying massive A3 pictures, since they look so good when I’ve done them. I then folded them around the issue which they had come from and took them over to Alice’s desk. I felt like I was doing a really important job! Only downside is that my fingers got all inky, which wasn’t great on top of the dust that sorting through the books covered my hands with. Nothing that giving them a quick wash in the toilets didn’t fix, but my hands still feel a bit odd and dry . . . Never happy am I?

It’s nearly time for me to take whatever post that we have down into the mailroom.

You know what is really odd? My phone hasn’t rung once. And I haven’t had to take any of Sarah’s or Alice’s calls yet either. I really hope I have chance to pick up and say, ‘Hello, Traveller.’

I think we can just help ourselves to any magazines we come across, apart from obviously back-issues and stuff like that. On each floor there is a magazine stand or two where I think we can just take a copy of the magazines that are produced on that floor. At least I hope so, because this morning I took a copy of Brides! Not that I’m becoming a bride or anything, but it is always useful for the purpose of becoming a magazine journalist to read all kinds of magazines, and if they are free why not?

I think I might be meeting dad in Camden for dinner tonight. I wonder what we’ll have. Apparently there is this event called Lock Stock on tonight, where all the bars open early and the cafes stay open late, so there should be plenty on offer. I just hope that I don’t get stuck at Oxford Circus for twenty minutes like I did the other day. I came across a ton of people waiting outside the tube station, and I asked someone what was going on,

‘They close the station every so often to prevent overcrowding. They will let us go in ten minutes or so.’

How silly is that though? All that happens is that hundreds of people get really hacked off that they can’t go home, start jostling etc and then absolutely stampede through the station once they can. Surely that is more dangerous? Whatever.

Each week Condé Nast will pay me up to £50 to cover the costs of me coming here, so by Thursday afternoon I have to collect as many receipts as possible from various spends I have made. This week (keeping in mind that I have only actually been here for two days so far) has cost me around £47. In fairness though, part of that is because I had to trek all the way back to Birmingham on Tuesday which cost £27, but still. I’ve spent about £6.99 on food, £10 on tube travel, £2 on the bus, plus my Birmingham money. And yet I only have a receipt to prove £2.99 of it. Shocking right? I’m sure I have my train receipt at my aunt’s house somewhere, and I’m going to try and bully the tube people and people from Itsu to give me the receipts for my previous trips, but I’m not feeling too hopeful.

Something else productive that I have done today is to create four documents which basically have a template of our generic email which is sent to aspiring writers, budding photographers and illustrators and prospective staff. This is because we often get emails asking how to freelance for us, or how to get a job within the company, and yet this is not the best way for they to get a decent answer. With freelancers we advise them to send their link or story to the correct person, and with prospective staff we have to direct that to the main website where they can find all of the current vacancies. It was getting a pain to have to type the same email over and over, so I made documents which can be pasted in, and then all I really have to change is the name that it is addressed to. Job’s a good’un! I am a genius.

The only thing that I don’t really like, is that there isn’t really much socialising that goes on in this office. I know that sounds silly, because work is for working and not chatting about last night’s mojitos or whatever. But, like, people don’t really talk in here unless it is to do with work. And even then it is quite brief almost to the extent of being abrupt. I guess it means that the job gets done quicker and more effectively, and I’m sure that everyone wouldn’t be able to leave work twenty minutes early like they seem to if they we babbling on all day, but a ‘Hey how was your evening?’ or ‘Been up to much recently?’ wouldn’t go amiss. I’ve had quite a busy couple of days, and being a sociable person I want to discuss them, and find out what everyone else’s days have been like, but I don’t feel comfortable enough to ask. Perhaps on Monday I could just launch in with, ‘Were you up to much this weekend?’ to Alice, but I’m not very motivated since I’m sure the answer would just be ‘Not really, could you sort through those competition entries?’

The other offices aren’t anywhere near this quiet. I went into the advertising office earlier on today, and it was like a party in there! Everyone was laughing, chatting and having a good time, whereas in here people actually have their iPods on! I think some people actually come in here, and don’t say a single word until they leave later on in the day. It’s nuts. And with my fantastic observational skills I can determine that this is because the Editor in Chief’s office is kind of attached to ours. I don’t know whether people are scared of making noise around her, or if they are just following in her footsteps (she actually hasn’t so much as LOOKED in my direction since I got here) but I think it is definitely down to her influence that the atmosphere lulls so much.

If I am being fair to her I guess she is getting the job done. At the end of the day, people have completed their tasks in a quiet environment and that’s all that matters. And if I was a powerful Editor-in-Chief I’m sure I would have things as I wanted them, after all it is ‘her’ office and we are ‘her’ staff. And why would she smile at me, or introduce herself to me? Every three weeks the person in my seat changes, and when there is work to be done I guess it’s not a busy person’s priority to come over and mingle.

The only difference is that I would have a fun and chatty office. I would be respected but enjoyed. I would introduce myself to every new person who comes into the office, because you never know who they might be, or what they might have to offer. And I guess that’s why she’s an Editor-in-Chief and I’m not.

This is yet another learning curve for me, but so far I am really enjoying it! I’m seeing that yes, sometimes people might have different ways of working, and they may not be your favourite, but as long as they work it doesn’t really matter.

Despite all of the silence I am thoroughly enjoying this placement. If I could afford to do this all year and go to university at the same time then I would. But I can’t, so I have to make the most of each moment I’ve got, and not grumble about something as petty as a little peace. J