Week 1: Concrete Jungle

Someone once said that, “New York is not a city. It’s a world.” And sitting here, in my single room apartment that costs nearly a year of East Lansing rent, I would have to agree. I feel like I am living in a dream world, getting to experience the best few months of my college career. I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am.

My first day as an art intern with Good Housekeeping was nothing short of wonderful. In the midst of the nerves and butterflies, my boss, Mads, did everything in her power to make sure I was prepared for success over the next few months. Equipped with my own desk, email and stack of old magazines, tasks were slowly delegated to me throughout the day and following week.

I devoted my first week to finding my rhythm in the office with my co-intern, Morgan. The two of us got a chance to check out our surroundings, adjust to the new schedule and get a handle on our daily tasks.

The Office

We’re located on the 28th floor of Heart Tower in midtown-Manhattan, with stunning views of Central Park and the rest of the city. In addition to the offices located on the 28th floor, we also occupy the floor upstairs, which holds our test kitchens, photo studios, toy lab, beauty lab, etc.

One thing I didn’t necessarily understand before coming to work at the magazine is the extensive research that goes in to the items featured in the texts. I guess I assumed that each publication picked products based on a variety of criteria- if it’s aesthetically pleasing, strong brands, good reviews, etc. But here at Good Housekeeping, everything is extensively tested before we can ever endorse it in print. On the research lab floor, there is research and testing every single day. For example, we have a:

  • Heat Room. Although I don’t know what the technical term for this room is, it is basically a heat-testing studio. If a product claims to be heat protectant or resistant, it is left inside the room at a high temperature to see how it reacts. For example, if paint claims to be able to stand up against desert heat, it is painted on a variety of mediums, left in the heat room, and then inspected for quality assurance.

  • Vacuum Testing Room. We have a whole room and a very, very large machine devoted to testing vacuums. It’s quite amusing to watch, actually.

  • Stains Lab. We also have a stains lab, where there are washing machines and sinks lining the walls. Our research institute does extensive product testing, including cleaning supplies and stain removal. They try different methods and products to take care of a variety of household problems. 

  • Test Kitchen. This is my favorite room of the institute. There are massive stoves, pantries, refrigerators, and other kitchen fantasies that are used to test every recipe that goes in to the magazine. It always smells wonderful.

  • Beauty Lab. Up in the beauty lab, they experiment with the different brands of products. They test and compare different products for things like longevity, best coloration, overall coverage and quality.

  • Toy Lab. This lab varies from day to day. Sometimes there are just two men working in the lab, focusing on finding the best toys for kids to be featured. Other days, it looks like a day care center, as kids’ ages 3 – 10 come to test the newest products. They run around from toy to toy reviewing how fun it was, how easy it was to use and understand and then rank them in the order of their favorites.

The Good Housekeeping seal of approval is a nationally recognized trademark, and all products awarded the seal have to go through extensive testing and experimentation before they ever can be officially endorsed. Walking through the museum-eque floor is quite informative and very fascinating to see.

The Schedule

I am fortunate enough to be at an internship that doesn’t start until 10 a.m. every day. I sleep in until 9 a.m. and walk across the street from my apartment for my four-minute commute to work.

Once I arrive, we generally start the day with a status meeting in the workroom where my desk is located. Dana, our assistant managing editor, runs the meeting, and works with a variety of people to make sure we’re all on the same page for each article. Every designer, the copy department, the managing editor and the fact checkers all attend every day, and they all communicate what they need from each other.

During this meeting, we also spend time to make sure that each page is where it is supposed to be in the editing process. An article concept starts with a designer, where they create a general layout for the page. Then, it goes to the writer, where they write to fit the content in to the design. It then goes to a slap-up with Jane, our editor-in-chief, to receive its first round of edits. Then after it goes through a whole hierarchy of people, edits are finally made and it is ready for the next part of the editing process- a pink. A pink is a stage in the editing process where final tweaks are made before it is made ready for press. Once it’s ready for press, images are made high resolution, content is checked again, and design is adjusted to reflect any last minute changes. Most of the time, pages are completely redesigned from their original concept before they ever make it to the final round of edits.

In addition to our daily morning meeting, Morgan and I also attend afternoon art edit meetings. These meetings are with the entire art team, our editor-in-chief and our executive editor. Every day, we take a look at each page that has been updated and discuss overall designs and concepts. These meetings are where pages are often redesigned (and redesigned… and redesigned again).  It is also a time where Jane chooses photos and content, and brainstorms any ideas she might have. I am very fortunate to be able to get to be a part of an internship where I have face-to-face time with the entire art department and editor-in-chief every single day.

Daily Task

In addition to our daily meetings, I also have a few small tasks that I am responsible for. My largest daily responsibility is updating the wall. The “wall” is a structure that sits on the edge of the art department cubicles and has the most updated versions of each page. I have to make sure that the most updated versions of the copy and design are reflected on the wall before I leave every day at 5 p.m. Besides that, most of my tasks vary from day to day.

Whew, that was a lot. There are a lot of names and things to learn, but I am so excited about the work I’m doing, and I can’t wait for more art tasks next week!

Until then,

Photo: Hearst Tower, Manhattan