Learning the Ups & Downs of the Magazine Industry

My Internship at House & Garden


Published: December 13, 2007

I never thought that, when I met with the director of creative services of the iconic “House & Garden Magazine” for lunch at the Condé Nast cafeteria back in February, that six months later, I would be working for the magazine as an intern. And that almost four months after my start as an intern, I would sit through a meeting so monumental that it’s hard to find someone else in the publication world, an actual employee or better yet, an intern, who has. But I’ll get to that later.

I had known since my sophomore year of high school that I wanted to work in magazine publication, specifically on the editorial side of a fashion magazine. (And for those of you who just thought, “Oh, it’s only because she watched ‘The Devil Wears Prada,’ please note that neither the movie nor the book had even been released at that point.)

After our lunch, the director passed my name along to another department. Months later, I found myself in a sitting area behind huge glass doors where giant silver lettering spelt out “House & Garden Magazine” on a crisp, white wall. I knew I had to be a part of the publication. After my interview, I was offered an internship with the Marketing and Creative Services departments of the magazine. Sure, it wasn’t editorial or a fashion publication, but hey, it was a foot in the door. Plus, I have been known to have a thing for domestics. That, and the desire to be the next Martha Stewart, minus the jail bit, so I actually couldn’t have asked for a better place to start.

Though I did a lot of miscellaneous projects for the marketing department—from mailers to our ad clients, to calling people for promotions—my main task as “the intern” was to help with the coordination of more than 40 events for the first ever Design Happening—a week-long celebration of design in New York. It was a big deal, not to mention an even bigger project. Some days I didn’t have much to do, so I would usually ask the marketing managers who I worked with if they needed an extra hand, just so I wouldn’t feel too much like a bump on a log. But those days seemed few and far between. Most of the time, I was busy doing something—finalizing guest lists, setting up promo pedi-cabs to be at specific events, running errands to get last minute things for a dinner event—it all made me feel like I was really part of the HG family.

And there was only one point in time where I was sent on a coffee run. Imagine that.

My favorite part of the internship was when Design Happening was launched in October. I may not have gone to the welcome breakfast or the gala dinner, but I was in attendance everywhere else during the rest of the week—the unveiling of the HG windows at Crate & Barrel uptown, the fashion show, a dinner at Isaac Mizrahi’s studio cooked by Mario Batali and much more. I can honestly say that I learned more during this week than I did helping to pull everything together for these events in the office.

With such a banner week in October, it was hard to swallow what came next: early Monday morning on Nov. 5, the entire HG team was called into a conference by the president and CEO of Condé Nast, Charles Townsend. He announced the company’s decision to fold the magazine. “House & Garden” would close with the December issue, which at that point was set to hit stands any day. Everyone was to be out of the office by that Friday.

After a tear-filled meeting, everyone seemed to agree that it felt like someone had died, and actually, it was true—it was the death of a 106-year-old, iconic lifestyle magazine. And I got to witness it…as an intern.

The people that I had worked for have now moved on to other publications, some still within the Condé Nast family, which in turn could become very beneficial for networking in the future. I have continued to keep in touch with many of them, including the other intern, who has now become a friend.

At “House & Garden,” I was fortunate to gain a lot of hands-on experience and a better knowledge of how to work with others. Although it wasn’t my ideal position dealing with edit or fashion, it was still completely worthwhile. So if you are thinking about going into magazine publication, take an internship, no matter what the position is. Because like I came to find out—who knows what will really happen.