Metcalf Memoirs: Emily Wang

Taking initiative and speaking up at n+1.
Metcalf Collage
Photo by: 
Gordon Lew, College Visual Media Editor, Class of 2015
Learning to trust my own intellect and having my opinions valued and taken into consideration has been an amazingly rewarding and affirming experience.

As the summer internship season kicks off, the College media team has gathered reflections from a few students in each UChicago Careers In... (UCI) program who held Jeff Metcalf internships this past summer. Here is what they had to say about their experiences.

Emily Wang, Class of 2014
Major: English
Primary UCI program: Journalism
Name of internship: n+1 Magazine Editorial Intern
Internship location: Brooklyn, New York

Q: What attracted you to the Metcalf internship that you have been doing this summer?

A: I found the internship on my own and then applied for a UCIJ [UChicago Careers in Journalism] grant. I was looking to intern this summer at a literary journal rather than a lifestyle or alumni magazine, as I had in my past two summer internships, and n+1 has long been a favorite of mine that publishes rigorous critical essays. I'm pursuing a career in the magazine industry and am particularly interested in cultural and literary criticism.

Q: How does your major or other coursework at UChicago relate to the kind of work that you are doing for your Metcalf?

A: Since n+1 is primarily a literary journal, the close reading and discussion skills I've developed in my English courses here at UChicago have been integral to the editorial work I've been doing for n+1, including deliberating with co-interns and with editors on submissions, researching to edit drafts, and proofreading. The theoretical background I've been exposed to in my English and sociology courses has also been enormously helpful, as n+1 does not shy away from taking on theory in the pieces they publish.

Q: What was going through your mind as you prepared and showed up for your first day on the job?

A: Just stay relaxed! You're not only there to work, you're also there to form lasting relationships, and being stressed out from the outset is the least productive way of doing that.

Photo courtesy of Emily Wang, Class of 2014

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your Metcalf, and how have you dealt with or overcome that challenge?

A: n+1 is a really laid-back work environment, which has both its benefits and its drawbacks. Obviously, this means that you've got to take more initiative to get the most out of the internship. I've found that making long-term plans and goals, both individually and with the other interns, is helpful in a less structured internship.

Q: What is the most interesting, memorable, or unique experience/assignment you have had while working in the capacity of your Metcalf?

A: We've been tasked with transcribing panel discussions for an upcoming book that n+1 is publishing in the fall on "regrets," in regard to what panelists read or didn't read that is directed specifically at incoming college first-years (a follow-up to an earlier pamphlet, "What We Should Have Known: Two Discussions"). The other three interns and I have had such different reactions to the panels, which prompted a memorable, and heated, debate of our own about our reading histories that touched on gender, race, and family.

Also: We played softball against The Paris Review.

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned or the most rewarding experience you have had?

A: Always speak up. The editors at n+1 are incredibly trusting and respectful of the interns' feedback, and in a lot of ways, I've had to work to rise up to that same level of trust in myself. In my past internships, editors rarely, if ever, asked the interns for substantial critiques of content. Being surrounded by brilliant editors and interns is extremely intimidating, and I've had to constantly be ready to articulate exactly how I feel about a certain submission or draft. Learning to trust my own intellect and having my opinions valued and taken into consideration has been an amazingly rewarding and affirming experience. 

Q: Is there anything else that you think would be particularly interesting or instructive to share?

A: I think the most important thing to do in any internship is to leave an impression of who you are, of what drives you. Don't be afraid to strike up impromptu, casual conversations. Get to know who you're spending your time with—chances are, they have plenty of wisdom to impart. And it's perfectly fine to not know something, whether it's a particular writer's work or even what you want to do in the future. You're there, after all, to learn.

For more Metcalf reflections, check out the overview articleTo read the profiles that Career Advancement collects, click here.

UChicago Careers in Journalism, Arts, and Media (UCIJAM), a program of Career Advancement, "provides essential professional development opportunities to help students launch successful careers in these fields." To that end, UCIJAM offers Jeff Metcalf internships, which are paid, substantive internships exclusively for UChicago undergraduates. For more information, visit the Metcalf Internship Program website.

Metcalf Internships are available to College students throughout the academic year, and especially during the summer internship season. To learn more about currently posted Metcalf Internships, log into your Chicago Career Connection account to search for opportunities, and to make an appointment with a Career Advancement adviser.

Tagged: journalism, Metcalf Internship, Metcalf Memoirs