Dropping In: Gannett Custom Media

The search for a summer internship is a daunting, harrowing task. Last April, I, along with many of my peers, was in the thick of it, sending out a...

The search for a summer internship is a daunting, harrowing task. Last April, I, along with many of my peers, was in the thick of it, sending out a resume a day and watching my self-esteem plummet with every unreturned e-mail. But then I found an opening to be an editorial intern at Gannett Custom Media in Northern Virginia. One month later, I was walking through the gleaming front doors of Gannett headquarters.

Gannett Custom Media is a facet of Gannett, an international multimedia company, which is arguably best known for its ownership of USA Today and rocking CEO Gracia Martore. My office where I worked for the past summer produced USA Today premium publications, or lifestyle magazines that came out every two to four weeks, compiles a weekly shopping newspaper that goes out with Gannett papers, and has just started doing native advertising, or producing web content for clients. During my short, 12-week internship, I became a true part of the custom media team. I wrote articles for the magazines, assembled product pieces for the shopping newspaper, fact-checked and copy edited pieces and networked with reporters, editors and other professionals within the publication.

It was exhilarating to be part of a company that prides itself on its top-notch media content, happy and driven employees and general goodwill. It is a place where innovation is not only encouraged, but also cultivated; where interns are not only appreciated but respected and sought after.

My time at Gannett was incredible, (hopefully) instilling in me the tools for success in the journalism industry. I learned about being a good team player, when to speak up and when to lay low, about being responsible for assignments and having grace in moments of failure — all valued and crucial skills for young people to learn. They are attributes for which I will always be thankful to the team at Gannett Custom Media.

But I couldn’t have accomplished any of that without my background at Backdrop magazine. I’ve only been on the magazine’s staff for a year, joining as a junior to write stories and have since become an associate editor. I wouldn’t have known how to write, edit or plan a magazine without Backdrop. It fosters new talent and values hard work and camaraderie and snappy news stories. My quick assimilation into the Backdrop world taught me so much about what it means to be a writer and how to be a constructive part of something bigger than myself.

It’s a process we all undergo together. We cumulatively become better professionals because we help each other along the way. I never would have had my excellent Gannett summer without Backdrop magazine.

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