Ed knows that most seniors can’t wait to be finished with college so they can join the ranks of the real world. Well let Ed tell you something—although there’s nothing like buying your own toilet paper that says, “Look at me, Ma! I’m independent!” Ed still feels you need to take advantage of being a student. Here, 13 Ed staffers spill their best advice for making the most of your senior year.
“I wish I knew that I didn’t have to have kill myself to get good grades my senior year. I wish I would have just taken classes I enjoyed and let myself get a B or—gasp!—even a C. Because when I graduated, no one in magazines cared (or looked or asked) about my GPA! So I say, focus your energy on your school paper or magazine or even your blog. And then go out and party. And road trip. It’s worth at least a point on your GPA!” – Chandra Turner, Ed Founder/President and Executive Editor at Parents
“Enjoy it. It’s so easy to get consumed with planning for life after graduation, but you’ll never get this time back, so soak it all up right now.” – Jessica Strul, Ed Special Projects Director and Senior Editor at Manhattan magazine
“Stay in touch with your intern supervisors. Senior year is so much fun, and it’s easy to get caught up in that excitement, but you need to maintain your work relationships. Send a check-in email every couple months with an update about your life. Mail a holiday card. Try to schedule a quick visit with them over your spring break. If you put in the effort during the year, you’re going to be the first person they think of when a job opens in May/June.” – Cheryl Brody Franklin, Ed Vice President and Partnership Editor at InStyle.com
“I wish someone told me that if I didn’t get a magazine job right away, it didn’t mean I’d never get one or wind up taking longer than my friends to move up the ladder. I should’ve spent more time having fun and less time freaking out about how I only had two interviews (which I now know is a lot!) before graduation.” – Meredith Bodgas, former Ed-at-Large and Editor at WhatToExpect.com
“Don’t be afraid of post-grad internships. I interned at two different magazines after graduation—one was a paid internship and the other one was unpaid. The people I worked with are the best contacts I have and because they knew I was done with school and looking for a full-time job, they helped me as much as they could. They emailed my resume to their colleagues and friends, and told me about any freelance opportunities that came up. Also, if what you want to do is write, write for free. Start a blog or find websites that need volunteer writers. The clips will help you build your portfolio.” – Ale Foresto, Ed Assistant Features Editor and Associate Beauty Editor at O, The Oprah Magazine
“Make the most of what you have left of college. Go to on-campus events. Get involved in that club you’ve always wanted to join. Eat in the dining hall. You’ll be surprised how much you miss those things when they are gone, and you’ll never have more opportunities available to you than when you are in college. For seniors who are interested in working in magazines, if you have not yet done an internship, you absolutely should. So much of what comes though the Ed e-mail box are post-grads looking for a way to intern, but as we all know, without college credit as an option that is a challenge! I don’t think most seniors realize this until it is too late.” – Lauren Piro, Ed Web Associate and Editorial Assistant at Ladies Home Journal
“If you haven’t already, start your own blog. Even if you’re not interested in an online gig, most print magazines want someone who’s web savvy because that’s the direction the industry’s going in. And besides internships, nothing tells a higher up that you know HTML, SEO, and CMS than creating and maintaining your own blog where you’re in charge of everything from keyword research to headline writing. I don’t think I would’ve been hired at my current job if I didn’t convince them that I know web metrics from my Google Analytics experience I had running my own blog, which I made sure to list on my resume.” – Yelena Shuster, Ed Associate Blog Editor and writer at Saks Fifth Avenue
“If you can, try to get an internship as close to the end of senior year as possible, whether that’s your spring semester, or even over winter break. It can be tempting to want to just relax and enjoy the end of college, but interning can be really helpful both with getting yourself ready for the working world and also for making important contacts for your job search. The more recently you interned with them, the better those editors will remember you. That way, you’ll get great references and they’ll also be more likely to remember to pass along any job tips they hear.” – Emily Johnson, Ed Commerce Editor and Assistant Editor at Twist
“Be open to a wider variety of opportunities — it will probably serve you better in the long run. You may have a specific idea in mind of what you want to do—for me, it was to go out to L.A. and write about Hollywood IN Hollywood. But now, I think I was too narrow-minded. While it’s awesome to go after a specific dream, I think it’s important to make sure you’re not so focused that you dismiss other avenues that have as much or more potential.” – Maressa Brown, Ed Researcher and Staff Writer for The Stir on CafeMom.com
“Use your connections and network! Not just for a job, either. Networking can help you build a support group if you move to a new city, find an apartment, get invited to fun outings, etc. And don’t just network with people in your field. You never know how things might work out.” Cassandra Zink, Ed Reporter and Editorial Assistant at First for Women
“During my senior year at Syracuse, I contacted alumni who worked at my favorite magazines and asked for advice on breaking into the industry. I also researched paid internships so I could try to graduate with a plan. The combination of those two tactics led to a great internship at Rodale, where I now work as an associate editor.” Christine Mattheis, Ed Web Associate and Editor at FitBie.com.
“When you’re job hunting, dream big, but be practical and don’t be afraid to revise your vision (we are editors, after all!). It’s a wonderful thing to know where you want to go, but it’s crucial to be realistic and flexible in how you get there. In all likelihood, your first job won’t be at your ideal publication, and it may not even be in the niche you think you want to pursue. That’s not a bad thing, and you shouldn’t be disappointed. You’ll probably learn a lot, and you can almost always freelance for a non-competing title to gain experience in a different subject area. – Sarah Bruning, Deputy Ed on Campus Director and Associate Features Editor at Time Out New York
“Be patient with yourself. Don’t feel like you need to have a job, apartment or your whole life figured out. Everything tends to fall into place with hard work and determination. Also, don’t forget to keep saying thank you. There will be a lot of people who help you out. Pay it forward and help young whippersnappers where you can.” – Caylin Harris, Ed Co-Director, Mentors and Editorial Assistant at Good Housekeeping