Inside HONOLULU: Behind-the-Scenes as an Intern for 50 Days at HONOLULU Magazine

My 10-week internship included impromptu office yoga, designer samples and award-winning snacks.
Shinae Lee
photo: enjy el-kadi


In an Alexander McQueen dress covered in snaps, I jingled as I walked from the office bathroom to my desk. Minutes later, I was told to change—this time into a jacket with at least eight zippers and later, pants that looked like they were meant for a person on stilts. It was just another day at work, helping style editors Stacey Makiya and Brie Thalmann by trying on potential looks for HONOLULU’s September fall fashion feature. Stacey handed me a houndstooth miniskirt. “Be careful with this one, it’s not a sample,” she said. I looked at the price tag: $1,357.


There was no shortage of these surreal and amazing, yet challenging, situations during my 10-week Society of Professional Journalists internship at HONOLULU. At first, I was mostly writing calendar entries—looking up events, writing 50-word blurbs for and posting them online. Then I started shadowing staff on photo shoots and interviews to learn what goes into creating a magazine every month. Editorial director Christi Young and I explored East Mānoa Road for September’s Field Guide. Halfway through, we walked blindly into a State Farm Insurance office and Christi said, “Your turn to ask questions!” I was not prepared. Thankfully, it was that girl’s first week on the job and I made her just as nervous as she made me.


SEE ALSO: Yes, That Big Red Box in Honolulu’s Chinatown (and Waikīkī) is Talking to You


Things really ramped up for me at about week four when I sat down with Christi and managing editor Katrina Valcourt to talk about this year’s College Guide. Suddenly I had 30 pages to prep in addition to my web assignments and short stories. I spent eight hours a day in my cubicle researching, interviewing, reading or writing. I’d turn in one draft and receive back a stack of edited ones—margins overwhelmed with scrawling blue script from Christi pushing me to write sharper, cleaner, better—only letting up after about the fourth draft.


SEE ALSO: 5 of the Latest Boba Trends and Where to Get Them in Honolulu


Shinae Lee

But along with the work came a lot of fun. I loved spending my days with other news nerds, discussing Tulsi Gabbard’s lawsuit against Google or debating the correct capitalization of unusual restaurant names. I’ll definitely remember creating made-up yoga poses with co-workers after a long afternoon of work. If you suspect we must eat well at the office, you’re right. I’ve tried fresh tortillas from Masa Hawai‘i, J. Dolan’s pizza, custard pie from Lee’s Bakery and more right from our little snack table. I also got to tell the stories behind dishes, such as the community-focused mission of Roots Café in Kalihi Valley. And I sampled five boba shops serving up the latest trends with digital marketing specialist Enjy El-Kadi.


The team at HONOLULU made my internship great. Christi encouraged me to expand the scope of my reporting and writing. Katrina put up with me asking AP style questions at least three times a day. Digital editorial specialist Katie Kenny taught me the ins and outs of writing for the web. Brie and Stacey gave me a chance to wear fashions hot off the runway. And everyone on staff was more than happy to take time out of their (very) busy days to help me learn something new. I’ll miss that the most.


Want to become HONOLULU’s next intern? Send us an email at