Olivia Langen ’19 and Serena Hawkey ’19 talk about their experience as editorial interns

In the midst of thesis writing, working as editors at The Trail, and myriad other senior year commitments this spring, Olivia Langen ’19 and Serena Hawkey ’19 recently finished serving as editorial interns at Premier Media Group. The Tacoma-based company publishes South Sound Magazine, South Sound Business Magazine, 425 Magazine, and 425 Business Magazine. We met with Olivia, an English major from Carlsbad, Calif., and Serena, a politics and government major from Oakland, to discuss their internship experience.

Olivia Langen ’19 and Serena Hawkey ’19 page through some of the Premier Media Group publications they worked on as editorial interns.

What sort of writing and projects did you work on as editorial interns?
Olivia: We worked under two managing editors and got assignments for blog posts and articles for all of the Premier Media magazines and their websites. We did a lot of processing press releases and creating content for newsletters. It also was cool going to press events that my editors couldn't attend. I definitely got a lot of experience just from getting to take on assignments that my editors would normally cover.

Serena: A lot of times it was quick-turnaround articles about something going on in the community. They have recurring columns with names like "Three to See" and "Sip and Savor," and I wrote a lot of those. Also, there were a lot of big, long projects going on that I helped with. There is a legacy issue of South Sound Business coming out in this summer, and I worked a lot on that. I also helped write articles for the upcoming "40 Under 40" event celebrating young business leaders.

Do you each have a favorite piece you wrote during the experience?
Olivia: I went out to the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in Woodinville, and talked to the wine maker and did a feature on him. It was a really fun setting to be in and amazing talking to somebody who is so passionate about something that I had no idea about.

Serena: My favorite story is coming out in the August issue of South Sound Business. It’s about periurban farms on the outskirts of cities like Tacoma and Puyallup. I looked into why a lot of smaller farms in this area are doing so well, while a lot of the country farms are consolidating or going out of business. I was able to piece together a big story and interviewed a variety of stakeholders, including farm-to-table restaurant owners, local farmers, and government officials. Part of what made that so cool is that they let me pitch the story. I told them "I'm ready to do a story like this, my thesis is similar to this, I would love to write about it—and they were like ‘Heck yeah, do it.’”

Olivia Langen ’19 and Serena Hawkey ’19
Olivia Langen ’19 and Serena Hawkey ’19

Where have you each worked and interned previously that prepared you to be contributors on Premier Media’s editorial team?
Olivia: I've been an editor and writer for The Trail for three years, and I've constantly been trying to get more off-campus experience and get more involved. I also was an intern at Carlsbad Magazine, my hometown lifestyle magazine, so that was kind of a first step. It’s small, but was a great little avenue that I took to help get this internship.

Serena: I was also writing for The Trail this semester, and I while I was studying abroad last spring, I wrote for the Sunday Times in Cape Town (South Africa). Honestly, I think it was just so lucky that I got that, because it opened the door for me to take advantage of this opportunity with Premier.

How does this experience complement your academic work?
Olivia: As a Puget Sound student thinking about going into journalism, it can be a bit tricky because we don't have a journalism program. I think getting off campus and getting real, hands-on writing experience in an editorial office is the best way to learn about that world.

Serena: I agree. You can learn a lot of the needed skills in class, including how to write and research well, but an experience like this allows you to focus on AP style writing and the way that journalists interview, write, edit, and get stories out. There's no better way to do that than having an internship. The editors at Premier Media, in particular, were super willing to help and mentor us, and extremely generous with things like constructive feedback and listening to our story ideas.

What are your immediate plans following Commencement?
Olivia: I want to keep working in magazines or get more internship experience. I enjoy the work and really like the pace of it. I appreciate the long-term planning versus short-term, chaotic deadlines of other media. Right now, I'm in the midst of trying to get into an internship program at an L.A.-based travel magazine.

Serena: I also love the long form of magazines and bandwidth you're given to write about a lot of different things and really work on the details of the stories. I’ve realized I want to write about politically focused topics and socially conscious topics. I got a taste of that working on my piece about periurban farms, and I hope to do more work like that.