Let’s get researching: my time at Four Letter Word

TwoCoversAs a student new to the publishing industry at the beginning of the course, formerly a psychology graduate, the publishing placement was one I was avidly looking forward to. Desperately divided between my love of books and magazines, I chose new magazine Four Letter Word as the placement to be. Four Letter Word is a magazine that discusses what it is to be human in the 21st century, looking at gender, transhumanism and augmented living (e.g. technology’s impact on our conceptions of being human), food, fashion, arts and culture. It celebrates gender and sexual diversity, and nothing quite like it exists in the magazine market right now. As students on the course last year, the women behind theFLW are proof that the course works, so of course I wanted to learn from them. As a company dedicated to celebrating diversity, and magazine design that kills, this was the company for me.

The first step was to pass the interview. I’ll admit at the time I was gut-wrenchingly terrified, though in hindsight, this was a fantastic opportunity to practice my publishing interview skills. And I can’t have done too badly, since I got the placement!

theFLWLogoAvatarCircleWhat followed was a wonderful summer where I got to bring my psychology research skills into the publishing world, conducting market research for theFLW, which I can’t go into too much detail of, for obvious reasons. I also had the opportunity to research features for the magazine, contribute to editorial meetings and create digital content for their blog. It was an extremely interesting and unique opportunity, to work on a magazine so different to anything else in the market right now, and it’s so amazing to see articles I edited and researched in print. Throughout the placement it really felt like I was doing work that actually had tangible results. On top of this, I now have the opportunity to write something for their next issue, which is crazy exciting, and something I can’t wait to do. I’ll definitely be keeping in touch once I’ve moved to the other side of the world! And, with one of the Directors being Australian, I definitely lucked in with someone who could answer all my panicky questions about my move to Australia like ‘how big are the spiders really?!’

Interning at a company at the start of their journey is an incredibly exciting place to be. I was in the right place to help make decisions that would follow FLW for the whole of their existence, that would determine whether their products were successful or not. My market research project directly guides what happens next for them: and isn’t that just a little scary? It was fascinating to be involved with the more business rather than creative side of the publishing industry, and I loved applying my research skills to the creative industries. The placement definitely hasn’t helped me decide what area of publishing to work in! I loved all the opportunities that arose for me, from market research, to writing, to editing, to creating digital content. The team at theFLW are fantastic to work with and, for the first time in my life, I felt like I was actually enjoying work. Even the early starts from Glasgow didn’t dishearten me!

To find out more about theFLW or to buy a copy of their amazing magazine, check out their website!

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Author: rhaitken

A postgraduate student at Edinburgh Napier University, studying for a Masters in Publishing. Graduated from the University of Glasgow in June 2015 with a 1:1 MA (SocSci) Psychology. Interested in books, cakes and cats!

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