Making a Magazine

October 17, 2018

Maria Morava, Rawan Abbasi, and Rachel Matsumura are the three UNC Global Relations communications interns who develop the University's Carolina Passport magazine. (Photo by Martha Hoelzer)

Student communications interns at UNC Global share the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s international opportunities with the campus by creating digital content, managing social media and providing logistical support for the Global Relations team.

They’re now adding magazine production to their duties, serving as the student editorial board of UNC Global’s Carolina Passport magazine.

For the past 11 years, the magazine consisted of essays from students about their experiences abroad. But when the internship program took over Carolina Passport last year, Director of Global Relations Katie Bowler Young wanted to rethink the publication and give interns the firsthand experience of building the magazine. Most of the content now is written by the student interns.

“When all of the stories were in the first person, the stories tended to have a similar arc that reflected the significant life experience that a student had in their study abroad experience. There was a common theme of ‘this changed my life,’” said Young. “But the opportunity for the students themselves to interview others ended up bringing out details about what made those experiences so meaningful from an academic, professional and personal standpoint, giving the stories greater texture.”

As interns, the students work closely with the global relations staff to develop interviewing skills and to learn to write with cultural sensitivity.

“One of our priorities was ensuring that we were giving students who were working on the magazine an opportunity to strengthen their skills around writing with cultural awareness. We wanted them to have a stronger sense of how their personal identity informs their storytelling – how it might unintentionally bias a story,” Young said.

While the Global Relations staff brainstorms story ideas for the students to pursue, it’s the interns who are responsible for shaping the stories. The students decide who will write each story and how to tell the story.

“A lot goes into making a magazine,” said Rachel Matsumura, a Carolina senior who served as managing editor of Carolina Passport last year and this summer. “It isn’t simply getting a concept together and slapping it on a page. How we communicate a story—that’s the biggest part of the magazine.”

The Global Relations staff then works with the interns to prepare for interviews and write and edit their pieces.

“I really love the whole Passport process, but what I enjoy most is seeing their stories transform from an idea of something they want to write about to a full story that gives a sense of someone else’s international experiences,” Young said.

Student interns oversee paging, communicate with the freelancer who designs the magazine, acquire artwork, establish the production schedule, set deadlines and organize the printing process.

The experience is teaching the interns much more than just the skills needed for the magazine industry, Matsumura said.

“Working on a team has been a great opportunity for me to learn from all of those around me,” Matsumura said. “Creating this kind of system where your team can be successful is a huge part of professional development. Teamwork and interpersonal skills are important in any workplace environment.”

By Katie King, UNC Global