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Interview with Alec Dudson from Intern

20 juli 2014, Marc Robbemond
Where are you based?
Manchester, United Kingdom
Why did you start a magazine about internships?
Having worked two internships with Domus and Boat Magazine over the course of 9 months, I found that I was no closer to securing a paid, full-time position with a magazine. As my time at Boat was drawing to a close, I knew I had to plan my next move and it was only then that I considered starting my own publication, initially as a means of staying in the industry. The more I played with concepts, the more I returned to the idea of a magazine for and by interns. After pitching it to Davey and Erin Spens (the husband & wife team behind Boat) and Chris Vickers (now of our designers - She Was Only) I decided that the idea was worth developing. Fortunately, people have responded really positively to the direction I've gone with it.

What is your take on internships, do you think it is exploiting talented people or is it a great opportunity for both parties?
The situation isn't as black and white as that, I suppose that's why the magazine exists, to explore the grey area in between those two scenarios. My personal opinion on interships and the magazine's stance are two very different things - I have to make that distinction before I answer. The magazine takes a completely neutral stance and looks to present a balanced variety of perspectives issue by issue so that readers can come to their own opinion on the subject. Personally, I would like to see an end to unpaid internships as they undermine any chance of there being a level playing field for people trying to break into any given industry. Sadly, many of those unpaid "internships" aren't internships at all, they're just unpaid or underpaid labour arrangements. Internships can be fantastic, enriching learning opportunities but that depends a lot on the "employer" and of course the "intern".

Which internship was the most profitable for you?
They were both very, very useful to me. I made friends for life during each and those people have gone on to be of great help in a variety of ways with Intern. In terms of being financially profitable, Domus was paid (although I had to wait nearly a year for the money). Boat, while unpaid, was hugely responsible for me having the confidence and just about enough know-how to set up on my own. The trust and opportunity that all of the team gave me there allowed me to see a bi-annual independent magazine go all the way from initial concept to final product hitting the shelves. I wouldn't have had a clue where to start without that experience. I wouldn't have met the people that have been so such a huge help along the way either.

What was the biggest challenge making the second issue?
For me, I felt that we had to prove that the concept had legs. The content couldn't be repetitive, we had to evolve a little, without abandoning our principles or the elements that people seemed to really react to first time round. As I mentioned before, perspective is of central importance to the publication and my efforts were concentrated this time around on ensuring that we offered some fresh perspectives. I want to reward our returning readers with some new ideas, inspiration and intrigue. I have always hoped that Intern could be more than just a luxury item, that it could also be a resource. Something that a recent graduate or student could check out and as a result, find the process of finding a job a little easier. The variety of content should facilitate that and provide folk with a slightly idea of the lie of the land, which can only be of assistance as far as I can tell.

What are your favourite magazines?
I still love Boat, it's such a great approach to a travel magazine. It's honest and a perfect reflection of the people who make it, that makes it phenomenally endearing and personal. Another Escape is a favourite too. Rachel from AE and I briefly overlapped when interning at Boat and I feel like the three publications are our little magazine family, I pick up every copy of both. Other than that I always rush to buy the latest Apartamento and Purple both are fascinating and beautiful in equal measure.

Why do you publish a printed magazine instead of publishing online?
I'm a big believer in the power of print. Sure, financially it doesn't make much sense, but this last two years or so have seen a huge rise in the number of quality independent magazines out there. It's still a far more niche market than it used to be but it seems like at the moment, the upshot is that many mags are works of art. So much love and attention to detail goes into each issue that they have tremendous value as artefacts. They're beautiful, tactile objects that look, feel and smell great. Because it's such a challenge and financial investment to make them, the quality of the editorial keeps going up as well. People are used to getting so much information and visual stimulus for free online that as a print mag publisher you really have to push the boat out to catch their eye. I think that a lot of indie mag publishers out there at the moment really get that and as such, we as readers are enjoying a truly inspiring range of high quality indie magazines. It's a real thrill to be part of that.

 The first issue of Intern is still available.

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