Working 9 to 5

Some interns collect coffee orders, handle file folders, and run errands. But, me? I carry terra cotta planters and sunhats to decorate a cozy backyard garden shed.

Some SIM garden group titles alongside the latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens.

Some SIM garden group titles alongside the latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens.

I’m working this school year as an editorial apprentice with the Garden Group at the Meredith Corporation, one of the biggest forces in American magazine publishing. This is the company that produces such powerhouse titles as Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Living, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Family Circle. In short, if your mother or grandmother reads it, Meredith creates it. And amazingly enough, all of these magazines are centered right here in Des Moines at the Meredith headquarters. I’m so grateful to be a part of the Meredith team and to get work with such a passionate group of people in the tiny Garden Group. The team here works to create special interest publications that you might see in line at the grocery store like the beautiful Country Gardens magazine.

I’ve been granted a stellar opportunity to see how the best in the business utilize their resources to create displays of beauty and public service like the garden shed photo shoot I got to assist on. But my work at Meredith has also given me a full picture of the harsh realities of working in the journalism industry in this climate. When I sit at my desk, I’m surrounded by empty cubicles simply because the last few years have meant so many layoffs. The garden group now consists of 3 people and me whereas pre-recession, pre-internet domination, it was a department of close to 30.

Despite the uncertainty, the company and the magazines industry in general seem to be reaching some stability.  This mindset could also be a delusional hope on my part, but I really do see signs of growth, innovation, and financial success. So, I’ll keep working on whatever I can to learn whatever I can because I know these kind of giant corporate chances don’t come along too often. Plus, maybe by the end of this thing, I’ll be able to keep a plant alive. Well, for a while, anyways.

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