The Sierra magazine editorial internship offers real experience in the day-to-day world of magazine publishing. As they work, interns get an overview of the process of selecting and preparing manuscripts for publication and gain valuable insight into the workings of a nationally circulated magazine. Interns have gone on to work or write for Sierra, take fellowships at Mother Jones and Wired, and write for publications like the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Los Angeles Times.
“What I liked about Sierra was that I was constantly interacting with the editors—fact-checking their pieces, chatting with them over coffee, or even just watching them banter in the weekly editorial meetings. And I learned a ton—not only did I see firsthand how a national magazine is put together, but I was also an integral part of the process.”—Chelsea Leu, fall 2014 intern
WHAT DO EDITORIAL INTERNS DO?
• Write weekly blog posts for the magazine’s Green Life blog
• Fact-check articles for the magazine
• Carry out short- and long-term research or writing projects as needed
• Attend weekly editorial and blog meetings
• Participate in writing workshops to improve their craft
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO I NEED?
• Strong writing, research, and editing skills
• Awareness of and interest in environmental issues
• Ability to multitask and work under deadlines
• Familiarity with the Green Life blog content and tone
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Internship periods are winter/spring (January through April), summer (May through August), and fall (September through December). Interns are required to work 20 hours a week; however, the scheduling of these hours is flexible. The position is unpaid, however we do provide a travel stipend of up to $600, and a tuition grant of $500 to current students.
HOW CAN I APPLY?
Internship applicants should send a personalized letter describing their qualifications and interests, along with a résumé and a brief writing sample, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In general, the most helpful writing samples show your ability to research facts, organize information, interview a variety of sources, and tell a compelling story. Journalistic samples are much preferred to research papers and personal essays. Please send files as PDFs. If you will be including links in your cover letter, please also submit a copy of your work in PDF format.
Applicants should indicate which internship period they prefer. The deadlines for applications:
• March 12 for the summer period
• July 16 for the fall period
• November 15 for the winter/spring period
No phone calls, please. We only meet in person with applicants who are under serious consideration for the internship.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do interns get to write articles for the magazine?
Sometimes. Interns are encouraged to pitch story ideas, and many have written articles in the past. However, this opportunity hinges on an intern's writing ability and on the magazine's needs at the time of the internship.
What have other interns done after completing the internship?
Our interns come from diverse backgrounds, and their careers have taken them in a variety of directions. Previous interns have gone on to work full time for the Sierra Club as well as for the U.S. Geological Survey and other environmental agencies, an adventure-travel company, a radio station, and a variety of newspapers, magazines, and publications such as the Atlantic, Mother Jones, the Guardian, Lucky Peach, and Los Angeles Times.
How long do internships last?
Four months. We have three sessions each year: winter/spring (January through April), summer (May through August), and fall (September through December).
Are the start and end dates flexible?
The dates are somewhat flexible, but preference will be given to qualified candidates who can begin work on the designated start date and continue to the end of the internship session.
Can I volunteer for the magazine for a shorter period?
Unfortunately, no. With our small staff, we are unable to train and incorporate short-term or time-limited interns into our research and fact-checking process. If you are interested in pursuing volunteer opportunities with the Sierra Club, we suggest that you contact your local chapter or group.
Is the internship paid?
The position is unpaid, although we do offer a modest local travel reimbursement ($600 over 16 weeks). Current students are eligible for a small scholarship, and academic credit may be available (we are willing to provide any documentation necessary to help students get credit at their college or university).
Is your office accessible by public transportation?
Our office is centrally located in downtown San Francisco, about a block away from a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station as well as many bus lines. We are about a 15-minute walk from Caltrain, the rail line to the Peninsula and the South Bay.
Does the Sierra Club provide housing for interns from out of state?
We are not able to provide housing for interns.
Can I still intern for the magazine while working elsewhere?
Many of our interns have other jobs while interning here. Since we can't pay more than a small stipend, we only ask interns to work 20 hours per week. This could be done in five half days, two or three full days, or whatever combination works for you. We do, however, ask that most of these hours be during the regular workweek.
ELIGIBILITY AND INTERVIEWING:
What kind of writing sample should I submit?
The most helpful samples show your ability to research facts, organize information, and interview a variety of sources, in a lively and engaging fashion. A piece of journalism (written either for publication or a class) is much preferred over a research paper or personal essay.
Do you only hire college students?
Former interns have ranged from college students to thirtysomething (or older) career-changers. Anyone with a strong science and/or journalism background and an interest in learning about magazine publication is welcome to apply.
Do you accept applications from international students?
International candidates are certainly welcome to apply, but they must have an excellent command of English, both written and spoken. As a nonprofit organization, we are unable to provide housing for interns. We are also unable to sponsor interns for a visa or work permit.
Do you offer internships for high school students?
STAFF, TEMPORARY, ART, AND OTHER POSITIONS:
Do you have jobs available at the magazine instead?
There are currently no paid positions available at the magazine. For updated job listings in all departments of the Sierra Club, please check our website at sierraclub.org/careers.
Are there any internships available in your art department?
We do not offer art, production, or photography internships at this time. We do encourage editorial interns to take on multimedia projects relevant to the program.