Intern Survey

Compiled By: Mary Hosey & Savannah Sitton


Gregory Stewart, The Believer, General Archive Intern

How do you make a living?

I received income from a variety of jobs including a work study at The New School, dealing poker for money, occasionally freelancing, and taking a seasonal tax job.

Do you feel fairly compensated for your work? Why or why not?

No. I contributed a significant amount of labor to most of the organizations I worked for and I was never compensated. The Believer hired me for a freelance proofreading gig and eventually segued me into their digital media editor role. I was compensated for both of those positions, but I was recently laid off, due to the fact that they found a more active Twitter user to replace me.

Do you feel like you’re fully immersed in the publishing world? Or do you sometimes feel like you’re on the outside looking in?

I have felt very much like I was on the outside looking in. So much so that I plan to leave NYC to try and break into the labor pool elsewhere with hopes of less competition, more inclusion, less exploitation, and better standards of living.

Would you like to continue working there if offered a permanent position?

After being laid off, I’m pretty turned off by the world of magazines. Blog editing feels meaningless and like worthless labor. I now hope to work as a reporter for a paper or a radio station.

Edith Perez, The Bent Literary Agency, General Intern

Do you feel fairly compensated for your work? Why or why not?

No. I was completing more work than was specified in my job description without any recognition.

Describe the atmosphere of your work environment.

The atmosphere was very quiet. There was no competition or team spirit in the office. On most days it would just be me and the assistant in the office. Agents are mostly absent. We weren’t too chatty. The only bit of team spirit was through weekly Skype calls with the entire team.

Did you gain valuable experience?

No, I did not. I was  completing clerical work that did not advance my knowledge in the industry.

List three things that you dislike about your job.

The lack of team spirit; the weekly Skype calls instead of face to face meetings; the pressure to complete work that was left behind untouched from the previous assistant.


Ryan Ross, NewsCult, Editorial Intern

How did you support yourself during your internship?

I use my student loans to cover the bulk of my expenses. My wife’s salary covers the rest.

Do you feel fairly compensated for your work? Why or why not?

No, unpaid internships are an incredible scam intended to benefit companies at the expense of the very people responsible for the company’s success.

Do you feel you’re gaining valuable experience?

Yes, I’ve gotten more comfortable writing against quick deadlines and expediting my writing/editing process.

Would you like to continue working there if offered a permanent position?

Yes, but only if I can focus on my areas of interest.

List the top three things you enjoy about your job.

Freedom to write longer pieces about important issues; friendly and relaxed atmosphere; working in the same space as other writers gives me a good sounding board for my ideas.

List three things that you dislike about your job.

Too much time spent on content aggregation; too much focus on quantity over quality; unsure if my work is reaching a wide-enough audience to establish a name for myself in the field.


Liya Cui – Culinary Epicenter, Editorial Intern

Do you feel fairly compensated for your work? Why or why not?

Culinary Epicenter is a very small startup that doesn’t currently make a profit. The founder/CEO is the only real employee, so it makes sense that I can’t really get paid. It’s not in the budget because there is no budget. This is taken into account in terms of stress level and work demand, which are both low. So I’m fairly compensated given the circumstances.

Do you feel like you’re fully immersed in the publishing world? Or do you sometimes feel like you’re on the outside looking in?

Before she started the company, the founder/CEO was a full time freelance food journalist for Huffington Post and various culinary mags. Both the company and I, as an intern, have the connections she’s made in the culinary publishing industry, but her reach is somewhat limited. She can get us in contact with big names, but it’s sometimes difficult to get their attention.

Describe the atmosphere of your work environment.

We work in a “home office,” a.k.a. the founder’s kitchen table. The total number of interns range from two to four at any time. We usually meet on the same days and we all get lunch together. It’s an extremely casual environment which encourages friendship and open communication.

Do you feel you’re gaining valuable experience?

I’ve learned what it’s like to run an online publication on a very small scale: sticking to an editorial calendar, reviewing and editing submitted articles, corresponding with writers/interviewees over email, conducting and transcribing interviews, and writing my own articles.

Would you like to continue working there if offered a permanent position?

I would if I could get better pay and benefits than the salaried job I’ve already taken on. But even if the pay was similar or a bit less, I would seriously consider it because I like working for the founder. I believe her company could be successful to some degree. I could take on more responsibilities to help this startup grow.


Logan Mahan, InsideHook, Editorial Intern

How do you support yourself?

I have a second and third job. I also receive help from family. I can’t work my internship full time yet because of school, so this summer I won’t have to work my other jobs.

Do you feel fairly compensated for your work? Why or why not?

Yes, NY has one of the highest minimum wages in the country. Perhaps if it was lower I would feel differently. This is my first internship; I’ve already learned a whole lot and published stuff already. On top of all that, I get paid, which is a lot better than the alternative of most internships: Free labor. I believe that companies should always pay their workers more, but in my current situation, I don’t have any qualms.

Do you feel like you’re fully immersed in the publishing world? Or do you sometimes feel like you’re on the outside looking in?

Yes, I feel very much a part of the team. They’re very transparent. I’m CC’d on every email. I know everything about how the company works.

Describe the atmosphere of your work environment.

It’s extremely friendly, team-spirited, and positive, which actually surprised me when I first started. I feel very supported and am allowed to contribute my own thoughts and ideas freely.  

What do you dislike about your job?.

Sometimes it feels like we have to put commerce over content — but that’s the same with every magazine. You have to make money to keep it alive.


Caroline Joseph, Belladonna, General Intern

Do you feel fairly compensated for your work? Why or why not?

Yes. I received 1 course credit for my work at Belladonna. Unlike other places that offer internships, Belladonna is a non-profit that could not afford to pay its interns.

Have you asked or been told about possibly being hired upon the end of your internship?

No. Belladonna has only two paid staffers right now, so there’s pretty much no opportunity for being hired.

Describe the atmosphere of your work environment.

Very friendly and team-spirited. It has a very small staff (three interns, including myself and two studio managers/senior members). We had a lot of fun while getting important work done. It always felt like we were all in it together, working towards a mutual goal.

List the top three things you enjoy about your job.

Getting to do work that supports the poetry community and authors I really love; meeting people who have similar interests to me; learning about the inner workings of a poetry publishing collaborative.


Anonymous, The Outline, Editorial Intern

How do you support yourself?

I rely on savings from having worked around 20 hours per week in college. Scholarship and award money from college also helped defray the costs. And of course, I’m in credit card debt.

Do you feel fairly compensated for your work? Why or why not?

I was basically publishing at the volume of a staff writer sans benefits or the same level of compensation. Entry-level staff writers make at least $38,000 from what I’ve heard; not $15 an hour.

Do you feel like you’re fully immersed in the publishing world? Or do you sometimes feel like you’re on the outside looking in?

I’ve done several internships at respected outlets now; I will say that I still feel like I have little access to the people and the scene that make up the “publishing world.” Part of this, of course, is just that I’m considered pretty young (just turned 23) for an aspiring writer, whereas the majority of editors are at least 26. The age difference is a little jarring.

Do you feel you’re gaining valuable experience?

My editor is extremely patient and invested in nurturing me as a writer, which by far is the most important thing when you’re just starting out in the industry. I got my name out there, and now I have a ton of good clips to my name.

List the top three things you enjoy about your job.

Editorial and intellectual freedom; camaraderie with my editor(s); being challenged to publish good content regularly.

List three things that you dislike about your job.

Low pay; no office; no permanent position




Anonymous, Futurepoem Books, Submissions Reader

Do you feel fairly compensated for your work? Why or why not?

Yes. While monetary compensation is a necessity, I work in a field which I am very passionate about, and receive compensation in the form of learning experience and exposure to the world of independent publishing. (I should say that no one at Futurepoem gets paid, but that we are working toward the capability of paying staff).

Describe the atmosphere of your work environment.

I feel extremely welcomed, that I’m trusted by my superiors/coworkers, and that my contribution is valued. Again, this is to a large extent due to the fact that we are a small, independent press. The relationships between staff members, while professional, are relaxed and collaborative.

Do you feel you’re gaining valuable experience?

Absolutely. I’m learning everything about publishing a manuscript of poetry from its selection from a group of about 500 submissions, to editing, to design, to working with the author to organize a book launch, to distribution, to making sure it is given the support and publicity it needs to get into readers’ hands.

Would you like to continue working there if offered a permanent position?

Yes, it actually already happened. I started as a submissions reader, but they asked me to be staff around two months later. I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was such a happy surprise.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It is challenging. I’m constantly being thrown into situations I don’t necessarily feel ready for, but find the confidence to manage them regardless. It has helped me take part in a particular corner of the publishing world of which I’ve always aspired to be a part. It has allowed me to meet and connect with authors and publishers who I’ve been following and from whose work I draw inspiration and ambition.

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