By Kristina Valdez

I applied to this internship twice before. I couldn’t imagine another summer passing me by without getting this (unpaid) job. I was determined, and it paid off. I got the internship!

I pressed “submit” on my application to D Magazine, a lifestyle magazine in Dallas, Texas that covers everything from how to host a Thanksgiving party, to why the Confederate statues in Dallas should be removed and the latest wedding extravaganzas.

I had already imagined myself driving into the city daily, headed straight toward the building with the big red “D” on the side of it. When I received the email that I was the new editorial intern for D Magazine’s Wedding and Home magazines, I was pumped. I may have even done a couple of fist pumps.

I planned everything from the time it would take me to get into the office for the three days I worked a week to what I would have for lunch that week and what outfit I would wear on a cloudy day. But, after my time there, I realized that there are things you can’t always prepare for – such as parking tickets and broken heels.

Here is what I learned at my first internship:

Parking and Traffic
On a good day, it took 20 minutes to get to work from my house. The offices are tucked in the center of Downtown Dallas, right next to the Dallas Museum of Art and Klyde-Warren Park. I always left an hour early because it always took more than 20 minutes to drive, walk to the building and take an elevator up to the 21st floor.

Always leave early. Although there was a parking garage in my building, all interns and most employees were barred from the convenient garage. Every day, I parked two blocks down the street. I walked across a DART train track and dirty sidewalks. In downtown Dallas, like most big cities, parking spaces are prime real estate.

Parking in the city is an adventure. Some days, I would forget my wallet in another purse and had to use an app to continuously pay for street parking. Once, I got a gaudy yellow boot locked onto a wheel of my red SUV. My heart sank as I walked to my car after a long day. I cried on the phone asking my dad for the $100 to get the boot off. Always have money and obey the parking signs.

The magazine where I worked gave us a dress code the first day of training. They were basic rules – no brainers like, don’t wear a skirt resembling Julia Rogers’ outfit in Pretty Woman. We were to dress business casual every day however, the office vibe was more like a relaxing Saturday morning. I wore heels for my first few weeks, but I felt ardently out of place clicking my way to the supply room.

Always have an extra pair of shoes. Also, the two blocks I had to walk down the street made me sweat and curse my heels before the day even started. I started carrying flip flops in my purse and switching shoes in the lobby before I got into the elevator. After a while, my extra pair of flat shoes became my regular shoes. I discovered I could dominate the day in flats. It may only happen once, wobbling around because the bottom part of your right heel broke off, but that one time will scar you.

I ran few office errands, but when I did, my car, Rose, and I took off on a wild adventure. I would run one errand a week or I would be squeezing three into an hour. I would always track the locations on Google Maps and save my distance driven for reimbursement. That way they don’t think they were personal errands. Errands would be fun – driving through Dallas’ huge design district with wedding stationary or visiting an upscale Dallas neighborhood.

Assignments and Rejection
I wrote for D Magazine’s D Wedding and D Home magazines a lot. I have great clips of interviews with the co-designer of Marchesa fashions, fun listicles of wedding movies to watch and open houses to go see one weekend. I was assigned stories, pitched stories to editors and was rejected several times.

I also fact checked stories like my life depended on it. I would spend entire work-days calling businesses and asking if they had red icing, if they were still located on the same street we had listed or if they carried certain sizes. Never once did I think that my work at the magazine was trivial. I didn’t fetch coffee or have “The Devil Wears Prada” moments where I ran around doing tedious, impossible tasks. But, I always treated my internship as a second application. I wanted to remind my boss why she hired me and why I would be great working there in the future.  I may not work at D Magazine in the future, but I will need recommendation letters.

Leaving with Relationships
I realized this summer that my internship was about building relationships. In the magazine industry, it will come down to the recommendation you received or if you happen know the receptionist at your dream job. You must be remembered as hardworking, passionate and kind. If there is nothing else you remember from this article, remember that.