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Food for Thought: My Summer at "Family Circle"

Written by Alexa Besgen '09

Alexa Besgen '09 poses with food samples sent to her at "Family Circle."

I walked through the glass doors of the Culinary Loft on 515 Broadway and made my way up to the 10th floor.

The California Strawberry Commission was sponsoring a luncheon hosted and prepared by chef CJ Jacobson from season three of Top Chef, who immediately greeted me and ushered me to a table with editors and interns from Parents and Women’s Health.

As I cut into my goat cheese and strawberry tart, I felt lucky to have such an amazing internship at Family Circle magazine.

October 2009 issue of Family Circle

My internship in the food department of Family Circle began with my passion for food writing. I grew up in a family full of restaurateurs, and the family interest was passed on to me. I often cooked and baked for my friends, and created recipes of my own. I just knew I was meant to be a food writer.

I applied for my internship through the writing department's writing and publishing internship program, which is run by associate professor Barbara Adams. I discussed my career aspirations with Professor Adams, and she suggested an internship in the food department at Family Circle.

On my first day, I walked into the lobby of the Meredith Building on Lexington Avenue and had thoughts of The Devil Wears Prada.

Sharply-dressed men and women held their coffee while flashing their ID cards at the gate to the elevator area. I was intimidated at first, but by the third day I felt at ease. Three days a week, I made a two-hour commute to and from New York City. It was tiring but the experience was worth it.

I worked closely with the food director and the senior food editor. I also worked with the four other members of the food department and enjoyed lunch with them every day in the test kitchen across the street on Park Avenue. We’d sample recipes being tested for an upcoming issue while indulging in the latest celebrity gossip.

I even got the chance to fill in as editorial assistant while the position was vacant. I expected to be filing, answering phone calls, and making copies, and although I did do those tasks, I also did a lot more.

I organized desksides, small meetings between companies and departments, in which the company presented a new product to include in the food section of the magazine.

Companies like Sara Lee and Starbucks would give me a sneak peek at up and coming product releases. I attended events like the Fancy Food Show -- a specialty food and beverage showplace where hundreds of food companies from around the world display their products -- to take notes about products for the magazine.

And each afternoon boxes full of samples would arrive. Soon everything from bottles of dressing to packages of candy were taking over my desk. The icing on top of my rich experience was writing two sections of “Food News,” in which I compiled a list of my favorite products, gadgets, and tips to feature on the page.

My experience confirmed my dream of being a food writer.

When it was time to say goodbye, the staff gathered in the test kitchen one last time and shared homemade cake. All that hard work paid off when I picked up the October issue of the magazine, turned to the “Food News” page and saw my name in print. I was excited but melancholic as I thought back on my internship and all the people I miss.

It was an experience I will never forget and I keep pinching myself to believe that it happened.



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