By Jamé Jackson No matter how talented you are, it can be scary to dive into the publishing industry when you don’t have anyone helping you. That’s precisely what Ed2010’s 30-Minute Mentor program is for. Whippersnappers are partnered with an experienced editor who will answer all those career questions they’ve been dying to ask. It’s great for helping young people like me zero in on our strengths and figure out what we want our career path to look like.
After I submitted my 30-Minute Mentor application, I was paired with Julie Kosin, the senior digital editor at HarpersBazaar.com. We spent 30 minutes chatting it up over at Hearst headquarters. I learned a lot from the experience—and luckily for you, I’m ready to share my main takeaways!
What I learned about the informational interview process:
1. Research your mentor.
In preparation for my informational interview with Julie, I spent days researching her background, previously published work, and her current role—and our meeting was far more productive because of it. There is simply no excuse for not prepping properly in this day and age. Doing your research is not only a courtesy to the person you’re meeting with (because if you don’t care to know who they are, why are you meeting with them?) but also a service to yourself as you figure out what you’d like to know. Nobody wants to be asked something broad like, “How do I get a job like yours?” Instead, they’ll probably be more receptive to carefully crafted questions that show you care about what they do.
2. Come prepared.
You should always bring a copy of your resume—even if you already emailed it before the meeting. If you’ve got a business card, bring that too. The editor might be able to provide feedback on how to improve them—and you never know when they might want to pass your info along to a fellow coworker or HR representative.
3. Send a thank you note.
Handwritten or email—you can pick your poison as long as you do one or the other. These editors aren’t obligated to give you any of their valuable time, so show your appreciation by sending a note that reiterates why meeting them was vital to you. It leaves a lasting impression and, in my opinion, keeps the doors open for future work together.
What I learned about being a good employee:
4. The strong will survive.
I eventually want to be an online editor for a fashion publication, so one of the main questions I had for Julie was about how technology and social media are changing her job. Being a digital editor means constantly updating the website with up-to-the-minute news, as well as overseeing the regular content that goes up on a daily basis. No two days are the same, Julie explained. That can make for an exciting work environment—but you have to learn to be flexible and agile in your workflow.
5. Editors will remember standout workers.
Julie did such dynamic work as an intern at HarpersBazaar.com that her editor remembered her later when they were looking for a digital editor. So no matter what your job is (even if it’s fetching coffee!), do it to the best of your ability. It shows others that you’re a hard worker, so you’ll be the first to come to mind when your manager needs to fill a job or suggest someone for a new project.
6. Learn to be indispensable.
While nobody can ever fully protect themselves from layoffs and budget cuts, Julie recommended working hard to become an important member of the team, even as an intern. The goal is to make your presence felt by everyone. If you’re super into print, offer to help out on the digital side too. Have an interest in photography? See how you can lend your abilities to the art department. No matter what, try to build as many skills as you can and utilize the resources you have. Once you become an indispensable employee (which, let’s note, also includes characteristics like having a pleasant demeanor and showing up to work on time), you never know when an editor may ask you to take on more roles and responsibilities.
Learn more about Ed’s 30-Minute Mentor program here.
Jamé Jackson is a freelance writer based in New York City. She loves all things fashion, beauty, and #GirlBoss related. She can be seen spreading her magic on Instagram @Theblondemisfit and her website, Theblondemisfit.com.