This past week, I was lucky enough to sit down with Chandra Turner – a personal role model and the reason I found the magazine internships I applied for this summer. While she’s not running around the Parents Magazine office, Chandra runs ED2010 – a magazine industry insider page where internship and job listings are posted, professionals can sign up for classes or networking events, and message boards and campus chapters make it easy to connect with other magazine-obsessed men and women around the country.
After congratulating me for winning the ED2010 Summer Trust Fund (reserved for magazine interns doing an unpaid internship in NYC), Chandra started pouring out advice and knowledge that comes from a long, successful career in the industry. I was so blown away by her dedication to helping young professionals get a leg up in the magazine industry, I couldn’t help but share some of her advice with all of our CL readers.
1) Study the masthead. Everyone has to start somewhere, and most entry-level positions are the same across the board – typically editorial or sales assistants. It’s important to know where to start, which positions to apply for, and how you’re going to work your way to the top!
2) Presentation and how you carry yourself is everything. You really only get a few seconds to make an impression on someone. It’s important to come across as confident, put-together and very professional.
3) Never close the door on opportunity. You never know where a random entry-level position will take you. It may not be your dream job – but the connections you make while working there could lead to great things down the line.
4) If New York is where you want to be … get to New York. Often times, employers will only take you seriously if you are already in the city looking for employment (a sad truth for out-of-state candidates). If you’re committed to starting a life there, get to the city as soon as possible and start building connections through networking and social media.
5) Internships can make or break a career. Hands down, the real-life work experience is worth ten times more than the random Shakespeare class you have to take for school credit. The more effort and energy you put into the internship, the more you’re going to take from it in the end. If it doesn’t work out – at least you tried and learned what you’re not interested in!
6) Your contacts are everything. Sad as it may be, if you are plugged into the industry you’ll have way better luck securing a job. Personal recommendations can often move your resume from the bottom of the ‘to look over pile’ straight to the top. Meet and network with as many people as you can – and find them later on LinkedIn!
7) Show employers not just that you’re qualified, but that you’re the only, prefect candidate for the job. Everyone has a blog these days. There are thousands of people with identical resumes, work experience and leadership positions applying for the exact same positions as you. Find a way to prove to each potential employer that you’re meant for the company – that they have to make room for you because you’d provide a new relevance and energy to their team.
8) Find out what you’re passionate about, and then chase it all guns blazing. If you’re interested in cooking, show employers in an interview why cooking is so important to you. If fashion is important to you, make sure you know fashion magazines and blogs like the back of your hand. If you love feature writing, show them the interviews you’ve done and collected in your portfolio.
9) You’ve got to have a thick skin. At the end of the day, magazine journalism is rough and competitive. Getting a job offer right out of college is a tough feat – especially in an industry crippled by change and downsizing. Keep trying, and know that you’ve got to embrace every opportunity as it comes along.
10) Never lose sight of your dreams. If you find out what you really want to do and what you’re passionate about, chances are you’ll be really talented as well. No dream is too big; this life is all about seizing chances and embracing tough decisions as they come along.
Meaghan O’Connor is a Communication Studies Major at the University of Michigan who would rather be at Starbucks or Barnes and Noble reading magazines than anywhere else. She’s excited to be spending the summer as a CL contributor and Intern at Food Network Magazine in NYC. Read about her daily adventures on her blog, here.