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My experience interning at Cosmopolitan magazine this summer in New York City. By Keara McCarthy ’10

English major Keara McCarthy ’10 (Montclair, N.J.) recently completed an internship at Cosmopolitan magazine in New York City.

This summer, I spent 11 glorious weeks in New York City as the beauty intern for Cosmopolitan magazine. Working in the beauty closet of the most popular women’s magazine surrounded by a plethora of beauty products seems like it could be any girl’s dream – and it certainly was mine.

The bestselling magazine title in the college market, Cosmopolitan is clearly the magazine most important to me and most girls my age. As an intern at Cosmopolitan, I got to discover how this iconic magazine comes together. Not only did Cosmopolitan give me a prestigious internship experience, but it also gave me the privilege to see firsthand what it is like to work in the magazine business.

By completing this internship, I got to fulfill a dream that I have had since I was a little kid. Growing up, I spent most of my time reading various magazines that focused on fashion and beauty. As superficial as it may seem to others, I’ve always been drawn to makeup. As an artistic person, I was always inspired and enthralled by the pages devoted to makeup and fashion in a magazine.

I always imagined being the person who designed certain looks and created them using just the right makeup shades to make beautiful masterpieces on the page. Working at Cosmopolitan has given me to opportunity to see how these pages come together, and to recognize the abundance of work that goes into creating them.

Although I came to consider the beauty closet my own little lair, it was my experiences outside the closet that taught me the most about the business. Before I began my internship, my knowledge of the various positions listed on the masthead of a magazine was pretty limited. Lucky for me this summer, Cosmopolitan launched a program for its interns designed to teach us all about the different editorial positions on a magazine staff, called “CosmoU.”

Through the CosmoU program, I heard from the different editors and designers of the magazine. Not only did I study how the editors create the content of the magazine, but I also learned about how the magazine comes together in terms of the copy, design, and layout of the pages. But the best part of my internship by far was hearing from Kate White, Cosmopolitan’s editor-in-chief, and one of the most influential people in the magazine industry. Kate gave the interns great advice, to help us in our careers and in life, and genuinely seemed interested in what we had to say.

In fact, I was surprised at how much the staff at Cosmopolitan seemed to rely on their interns. We were not treated as inexperienced hindrances, but were genuinely trusted with important and valuable assignments, and even got to pitch ideas for future stories. Since so much of the magazine is based upon input from real women and men, the Cosmopolitan staff really listens to their readers, cares about what they have to say and endeavors to create the magazine that they desire.

There were many interns at Cosmopolitan this summer, and some came from all over the country. But it is undeniable how important it is to be in close proximity to New York City, since it’s the central location for almost all magazine publishing headquarters among other businesses. Even my boss stressed to me how important it is to be in a close commute to New York, since it makes it easier to keep in contact. And thanks to Lafayette’s close proximity to New York, I know that I can go in to the city at a moment’s notice if, for example, I ever need to interview for a job in the future.

As much as I wanted to, I knew that I couldn’t stay in the beauty closet forever. Working for the bestselling women’s magazine in the world was a wonderful experience and taught me many things. Not only did I make some great contacts within Cosmopolitan, but I got invaluable advice from some of the most influential people in the business. Even though it was unpaid, I wouldn’t have traded the experience of this internship for anything else. And the five shopping bags full of products that I got to take home from the beauty closet didn’t hurt either.

  • Our Proximity Advantage: New York City internships and externships are a part of the unique Lafayette student experience
  • English
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