Phew! Ed can hear the sound of whippersnappers around the country breathing a sigh of relief now that jobs are finally opening up in the magazine industry. But this has many wondering, is it more beneficial to take a full-time, on-staff position at a smaller magazine where you get health benefits, vacation days, and the whole nine-yards? Or is it better to get your foot in the door at your big-time dream magazine as a freelancer (or permalancer), meaning you work the hours, have the work load and job duties of a full-time salary staffer, but without the salary and on-staff benefits of a full-time staffer. Confusing, right? Well, most publishers have these positions, and sometimes they turn full-time.
So which opportunity will get you higher up the masthead down the road? Ed asked two EAs who started out in very different places—and turned out juuust fine.
Ashley Spencer, former Editorial Assistant at J-14, now a Staff Editor at Us Weekly
“Being an editorial assistant at J-14 is almost like being a copy editor, writer and senior editor all rolled into one. Not only did I get to interview some of our top stars within the first couple months, but I was given great responsibility in nearly every aspect of the magazine. If I had decided to start as an EA at a larger magazine, there’s no way I would be sketching layouts, writing cover features and personally meeting with our editor-in-chief on a daily basis. Of course, the usual EA duties like mailing send outs and opening reader mail do apply, but my writing and editing assignments far outweigh the office management tasks. The glitz factor is probably lower than working for a larger glossy, but sometimes it’s nice to not worry about being the trendiest girl in the office, and just focus on the job. (Oh, and there’s a significantly higher freebie basket goodies to staff ratio!)”
Kaitlin Menza, former Editorial Assistant at Glamour, now the Senior Features Editor and Online Deputy Editor at Teen Vogue
“When I received a call from a favorite editor at Glamour about a job opening, I couldn’t believe my craziest dream was coming true. The fact that upcoming layoffs and budget problems would make me freelance (for the foreseeable future) was a tiny footnote on my sheer joy. As a freelancer, I bounced around a few departments, getting to know everyone and trying lots of different responsibilities, which I loved. Nine months into my time here, a full-time Editorial Assistant left, and I was hired immediately. Being a permalancer can be unnerving (kind of like a non-stop job interview), but I had so many recent-grad friends who couldn’t find anything, let alone a daily gig, that it never felt like anything less than really good luck. I went from freelance assisting to editing actual pages, reviewing movies, TV shows and books, and even overseeing our monthly photo shoots of cute guys! Best job in the world.”