Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

7 Rules for Getting Personal with Your Editors—Without Making it Weird

This is one of a series of posts from The Intern Diaries, a summer guest blogging project hosted by Ed. Follow our intern from her first day to her last, and learn more about this crazy exciting industry.  Click here to read more from this season’s blogger.

Whether you’re in the middle of your first internship or your fifth, it’s important to learn every dirty detail about the industry and how you can get your feet in the door while you’re there. Even though editor feedback on your assignments is infinitely important, you probably also want a little insider advice on how to actually get hired at a magazine once your internship days are done. To do that, you’re going to have to go outside your comfort zone.

When I needed some advice on hunting for a full-time job, I asked one of my editors out to coffee to get her tips on what editors like to see in pitches from staffers and how I could eventually become a staffer. At first, I was super nervous about speaking with her one on one because I didn’t know if we would have a lot to talk about outside of work, but once we started chatting I knew it was a smart decision.

Listening to her about her talk about her previous jobs and finding out what editors look for in an editorial assistant was incredibly helpful. Plus, it inspired me to ask four other editors out to coffee during the first few weeks of my internship.

Here, seven no-fail tips to help you nail the intern-editor coffee date.

1. Asking over email is totally OK. If you don’t have an opportunity to ask your editor in person to join you for an off-site chat, sending her a quick email is a good way to go. It isn’t rude or impersonal (actually, she might prefer it), so feel free to shoot them a note saying something like, “I have some free space in my schedule this week, and I’d love to take you out for coffee if you can spare some time.” Editors are busy people, so giving them the ability to think about it and check their calendar without you standing over their shoulder could be a win-win for both of you.

2. But if you would rather ask in person, go right ahead. Instead of worrying about your email getting lost in the shuffle, pop by her office on your way to your desk or bring it up while discussing an assignment. That way you can confirm your plans right there instead of nervously waiting by your inbox for a reply.

3. Offer to buy her coffee, but…Since she’s doing you a big favor by sharing free advice and you’re the one who asked your editor to coffee, it’s a very polite gesture to offer to get her drink. That being said, try not to put up too big of a fight if she insists on paying. She wouldn’t have offered if she didn’t want to, so don’t feel guilty. Just politely thank her, and let it be.

4. Kick off the conversation by learning about her. “So tell me a little bit about how you got your start in magazines” is a great way to get your editor to share some fun facts about her career (and trust me, Editors love talking about how they launched their career just as much as you love hearing about it). Learning about her path gives you more insight into her interests and will probably spark a few questions that you didn’t have before. And, bonus, asking her about her experience before launching into your hopes, dreams, and career goals is just plain polite. Sure, you invited her to coffee, but the last thing you want is to make the meeting all about you.

5. Listen up. Nothing is more annoying than getting cut off while you’re answering a question. Don’t do this to your editor. Hear her out, and save all questions until she’s done. You don’t want your eagerness to translate into rude behavior.

6. Ask nicely. Talking to an editor can feel like the most intimidating thing ever, especially if you have a question for them that’s not related to work, like how to rework your resume or who they know at your dream magazine, for example.

But a good way to ask her for advice or help getting a job, is by asking her how she handled that situation when she was in your shoes. So, instead of saying, “I really want you to look at my resume and tell me what to change,” say something like, “How did you organize your resume when you were looking for an entry level job?” Or, better yet, “What do you like to see on a resume for a editorial assistant?”

By asking how she handled herself during her EA days or what she looks for now that she’s the boss, she’ll share more insider tips instead and is less likely to feel like you’re looking for a handout.

7. Send a thank you note. Sometime between the time you get into the office and the next day, be sure to send her a thank you note for taking the time to meet up with you. Whether it’s via email or snail mail, be sure to refer to something she said that really hit home with you. If she offered to connect you with someone or send you a link to something, be sure to mention that in your note as well. Keep it short and sweet, and you’ll leave a nice lasting impression on that editor. Hopefully you’ll feel more comfortable reaching out to her for advice in the future.

Have you taken your editor out after work? What is the best piece of advice an editor gave to you? I’d love to hear your experiences!

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