By Yerin Kim
It’s a terrifying yet super-exciting time for Whippersnappers. You just graduated and the nerves are kicking in (or if you’re me, they started a loooong time ago). Like every other recent grad, you’re struggling to figure out your next step: Do you take a post-grad internship? What should you do in the interim, while you wait for that dream job to come up? What if that dream job isn’t hiring right now? To help answer these burning questions and more, we asked two accomplished editors to take a look back at their careers and dig up tips they would give to their younger selves. Read on for their advice on how to fully prepare yourself as you enter the publishing industry.
Spend time networking with your peers.
“Networking may not be intuitive, but it’s super, super useful,” says Elizabeth Narins, Senior Fitness and Health Editor at Cosmopolitan.com. “You’re more likely to get on the calendar of a peer than a really senior editor who doesn’t necessarily know you or have time to pick out of their day to grab a drink. Don’t underestimate the importance of your peers and getting to know them. A magazine major [at Syracuse, where I graduated from] hired me at Cosmo four years ago. She reached out and told me about the job, even though we weren’t particularly close on campus, and then we worked together for years.”
And on that note, make sure you still maintain relationships and network with your contacts. “It’s an obvious tip, but now is the time to leverage basically any relationships you’ve made along the way,” says Andrea Lavinthal, Style and Beauty Director at PEOPLE. “This is the time to put those contacts to good use and reach out to your network to let them know you’re graduating [or graduated].”
Don’t be afraid to take another internship.
“I volunteered to intern, even though I was ready to get paid more than ever,” says Lavinthal. “If you make yourself indispensable as an intern—and there is no place that’s gonna turn down free help—and an entry-level job opens, it’s pretty much guaranteed that it’ll be yours. Also, you’re getting experience, you’re making new contacts, and it’s something to put on your resume while you’re doing the job hunt.”
Similar to Lavinthal, Narins was also ready for a full-time position, but there weren’t many opportunities available at the time she graduated, so she took a post-grad internship. “It just feels good to get up and go to work when you’re struggling to get your dream job. My first job was at a content marketing company called Studio One Networks, and when I went in to interview, my resume was pulled out of 500 entry-level resumes. My later boss told me he was drawn to my resume because I had five internships. He said anyone who’s gonna take five internships is serious about getting experience and working hard, so that’s what caught his eye.”
Don’t feel like you need to take a job you don’t want.
“Everyone feels desperate and has that moment where they consider taking the job that they really don’t want,” says Lavinthal. “I wouldn’t sign onto a job that you already know you hate. If it sounds interesting and it’s adjacent to what you want to do, maybe, but don’t commit yourself to something you’re already miserable about.”
But at the same time, don’t be worried about going outside the vertical you see yourself working in. “I was always passionate about fitness/health, but I was writing celebrity news and online dating reviews for YourTango that I didn’t necessarily see myself working on long term,” says Narins. “But you take what you can get, you flex your muscles, and you see what works. That experience helped me get to the next level.”
Relish the awkward in-between time.
“Enjoy the one weird time in your life where you have no homework, no work, and no money,” says Lavinthal. “It’s a jarring change to go from being with your friends and peers every day, to being back on your own a little. That in-between phase is uncomfortable. Everyone’s displaced and most people don’t like that. It’s really hard to tolerate the unknown, but pretty soon, it’ll be known and you’ll just be in a whole new routine. It feels like a blur.”