My week of work experience at MacFormat, by Dan Thomas


Walking through the doors at Future’s Westgate buildings for the first time on Monday morning, was an experience that created mixed emotions within me; having just completed a three year degree in Magazine Publishing, I felt I was entering an industry that I should be knowledgeable in, yet here I was, confronted with a number of new challenges that after three years of uni, I was still just as inexperienced as I was before my life as a student began. Admittedly, no new graduate will have all the experience required to allow them to walk straight into a job and feel totally at ease on their first day; but other than the ability to type, uni hadn’t taught me anything that I could put into practice in the ‘real world’.

Many of my fears evaporated the moment I saw [Managing Art Editor] Alex waiting for me outside the door; the only time I had seen Alex before now was the small photo icon that features throughout MacFormat, but there he was 9am Monday morning, ready to spend a week attempting to show me that this lucrative world is as fulfilling and glamorous as it is made to appear on TV shows. And believe me…it is. To many of the people who work there and have had to endure years of computer screens, long hours and the hum of office life, this way of life is something they may be trying to escape, but for me, it was all new and exciting; I got my own desk, Login details and was even presented with ‘The Book’ on my first day. ‘The Book’ is a mock up of that months issue and it spent the whole week on my desk. It was these little things that made me realise just how much I was looking forward to finishing uni and entering the working world of magazines.

On my first day, Alex put me to work on layouts; I’m certain that to anyone else, this would have been a quick and easy task, but yet again, I was faced with using a piece of software that I had never had the ability to work with; InDesign. Having now used it on a daily basis for the past week, I have come to learn that it is an incredibly smart piece of software, which with the correct knowledge of the program allows the user to efficiently build the layout of the magazine along with many other uses. Throughout the week, I was able to complete five pieces of work for the upcoming issue of the magazine; the way that the templates are already saved; meant that I was able to copy and paste the content straight into the designated boxes. This was an invaluable experience with a piece of software that I feel will play a strong part in any of my future jobs.

The only part of the experience where I felt slightly disconnected with was when any technological language was thrown about in conversation; this however, could not be prevented as at the end of the day, I had chosen to work with a magazine company that specialises in Apple technology. Fortunately for me I had plenty of previous copies of the magazine piled on my desk, so a quick read through them, meant that I had soon bought myself up-to-date with the latest technology. As I read my way trough the mountain of magazines on my desk, it became apparent that; although at one point I had told myself that I would never be a reader of the magazine, I was actually finding certain articles to be of great interest and was soon following many of the tutorials on my own Mac.

The highlight of the week for me; was the opportunity to join [Art Editor] Paul on a day and a half of studio photography. Spending time in the photo studios was and always will be where I can allow my creativity to come through; having a greater understanding of photography than Apple products meant that, although I never knew what the pieces of kit that we were photographing were capable to doing or in many cases were called; I understood many of the decisions that the photographer was making and why he chose to light the kit in the way he did, the balance between the editor and photographers technical choices was interesting to witness, yet there was never any great disputes between them and in many cases, the photographer was able to envisage the scene that the editor was looking for. On my second trip to the studio, Paul allowed me to pick and arrange the props for the scenes that we were creating; this was both incredibly brave of Paul to allow and also very exciting for me to have a creative say on how the composition would appear in the magazine.

Looking back on my week at MacFormat, I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to work under the supervision of Alex; he has achieved such an amazing level of quality during his time as Creative Pro at MacFormat. Having been allowed to witness and experience for myself, the day in the life of a magazine editor, I was given a unique opportunity to sit in on a number of editors meetings and asked for my opinion on some of the concepts that are planned for the next issue. After this week spent at MacFormat, having immersed myself in every opportunity presented to me throughout my time at MacFormat, I am determined more than ever to go from this week; using this experience as a platform to launch myself into a career in magazines.

Dan Thomas