I Was A New York Creative Intern: Caitlin Bahrey, Freelancer for McGraw-Hill Higher Education

Caitlin Bahrey often finds bios incredibly boring and ends up writing about the fact that she travels a lot or that she loves breaking into a silly dance in office settings. Perhaps that would explain why Sarah Lawrence was a good fit for her; they encourage out of the box thinking and it can be assured that most students that attend fit the bill. During her time there, she studied a lot of literature and creative writing, including fiction and poetry, and graduated with a Liberal Arts degree.

How many internships have you had, and where?
I’ve had quite a few internships. In high school, I was part of a program that let me do full-on internships pre-college. I started as a Student Columnist for my town’s newspaper, The Baldwin Herald, which gave me a nice early taste of journalism. Additionally, I also worked for KMR Communications in Manhattan, creating press kits and learning all about proper PR. In college, I worked as an editorial intern for The L Magazine in Brooklyn, pitching pieces and writing movie and play reviews. After graduation, I interned at McGraw-Hill, the most challenging of all my internships, where I tried my hand at publishing in a corporate setting.

It’s 3 pm on a Tuesday afternoon. What are you doing?
While working at McGraw-Hill, I ended up doing a lot of things I never thought I would be doing.  In all honesty, on a Tuesday afternoon I would probably be processing multiple invoices for freelancers. I never thought I’d ever be handling payments for people. It sounds trivial, but being trusted to handle money is incredibly important. If I didn’t get it out in time to them, it could have meant someone missing their rent.

Outside of the obvious, there were many afternoons where I had multiple projects on my plate, including managing textbook review panels to improve an upcoming edition, or trying to get in finishing touches for an online Connect product attached to one of our textbooks. It was often hard for me to find down time at McGraw-Hill, but I found that most beneficial. Having your time feel meaningful is incredible.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
It was actually from a McGraw-Hill meeting I sat in on. It was for editorial coordinators explaining what they needed to do if they were interested in changing positions. If you’re interested in something, ask questions about it. Be confident in the fact that you have questions; chances are someone else will be willing to give you projects pertaining to the new position you’re interested in. Outside of position changing, I believe the same works for taking on anything you’re interested in. If you express interest and enthusiasm, someone will most likely be willing to work with you to make that happen. You have the ability to craft your own journey!

What would you put in an intern survival kit?
1. Confidence. You were chosen because the company saw something special in you. Do not be afraid to ask questions; that’s why you’re there! Learning is absolutely acceptable and rewarding.

2.  Headphones. Listening to music is calming. It’s good for curing stress and it’s good for focusing. Plus, sitting in an office chair for hours can get boring—there’s nothing wrong with spicing up your mind with a little boogie!

3.  Friendliness. Don’t be afraid to get to know people! Despite being in a corporate setting, once I got to know the people around me, I realized just how interesting and lovely they all were. I had a core group of interns and colleagues that I got close with by the end of the summer. If the friendship isn’t enough of a reward, these people are now connections for you in the future; it’s a win-win, and will make your experience incredibly richer.

4.  A Planner/Calendar. I always found myself making lists and trying to organize my thoughts. Unfortunately, it only occurred to me after I left that there are organizers out there to sort your agenda. Life is already hard; accept that there are products out there that are designed to make it easier.

Do you have questions for Caitlin about her internship experience? Leave them in the comments below. Also check out the other posts in our “I Was a NY Creative Intern” series.

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