Meet Our Apprentice Kelsey Schirm
Written by Kelsey Schirm
Thinking back to my first day as an editorial apprentice for Country Gardens, I remember how irrationally nervous I was. I wore my most professional outfit—my black pencil skirt, black heels, and a ruffled, turquoise top with my black suit jacket. After meeting what seemed like a thousand new faces, I walked into my new cubicle and my nerves settled. Of course it was outfitted with the typical computer, squeaky desk chair, and stapler combo, but the other accompaniments are what set the tone for my apprenticeship. Next to my computer was a miniaturized sample of a deck railing. The back of my cubicle housed a large, green rain barrel flanked by a selection of straw hats. And let’s not forget the bottle of flaming squirrel seed sauce (for birdseed) that greets me every morning (complete with a peculiar picture of flames and steam exploding out of asquirrels’ head). Instantly, I smiled and thought to myself: This isn’t going to be your typical apprenticeship.
I was right. Something new and exciting awaits me almost every day I step into my cubicle. I’ve had the opportunity to work on just about every part of the magazine from writing stories to proofreading, interviewing sources to attending press meetings, and creating captions to assisting in photo selections. It’s safe to say that just about every spread has been through my office for some reason or another. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to call in products and produce the photo shoots for our shopping stories. I was even a hand model in one of the shoots. That was my favorite story. There’s something extremely satisfying about knowing I selected the products, modeled them, and wrote the content. But those are just my editorial duties. My editor, James, likes to throw fun projects on the side for me every now and again—like using jam from one of our upcoming stories to create a sweet treat for our pinup. For about two months he challenged me to use grow my own basil in my office. Given my reputation for water-deprived plants I was sure it would be a bust, but thanks to a self-watering garden system my basil thrived and found its way onto the plates of many people in the office. Currently, I am starting to grow mushrooms from a mushroom-in-a-box kit. Let’s hope my newfound green thumb prevails.
Equally unique to my experiences as an apprentice are the people I work with on a day-to-day basis. When you put out ten titles a year with less than a handful of people on staff you’ve got to have some fun. Whether it’s a “meow” as Nick, our art director, passes our cubicles, James bringing me an endless supply of goodies (he’s very aware of my sweet tooth), or me sneaking a mannequin head with gummy worm eye brows, a straw hat, and a giant, paper clock necklace into our editorial assistant Heather’s office, our days here are never dull. We work hard together day in and day out and they’ve become my home away from home. My apprenticeship ends in just a few months and I know it will be hard to go. Wherever I end up I know I will worry if James has to eat all those sweets himself or if Nick has someone to throw snowballs at during the photo shoots. After six months here I feel silly when I think about how nervous I was on that very first day. No one should ever be nervous when they get the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve done many things and met many people here, but I have yet to wear that pencil skirt in the office again. It doesn’t fit in here and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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