Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

Landing My First Magazine Job: 6 Very Different Stories

Just like you, magazine editors worked as unpaid interns, racing across Manhattan carrying designer garment bags, or heading back out into the sweltering heat for two more necessary man-on-the-street interviews. And just like you, they booked a bus ticket to NYC the night before an interview because they “happened to be in town that day.” But keep in mind your hard work won’t be for nothing—these editors have success stories to prove it!

She networked like crazy.
In getting my first real magazine job, I truly learned the importance of networking — both with alumni and past coworkers. While finishing up my master’s degree at the University of Missouri, I spent more than eight months looking for a magazine job in New York City with the intention to relocate immediately upon finding something. With no such luck, I decided to just move and see what I could find. I know many think this is a risky move, but in my case, I got extremely lucky. After spending the year keeping in touch with contacts I had met at previous internships (including one with the art department at People), one such contact referred me to his former coworker (and fellow college alum) at Glamour.com, suggesting I reach out and see what they might have open. Somehow, the timing of my move to NYC just happened to be when a position was opening up in his department. Being available and having some connections can work wonders.
—Taryn Wood, Web Producer, Glamour.com

She volunteered to work for free, post-grad.
“I graduated in 2001 and started interviewing like crazy for editorial assistant and beauty assistant positions (My passion for magazines is only matched by my love for beauty products). I heard through a friend of a friend that Cosmopolitan was looking for a beauty assistant and managed to score an interview. About a week later was September 11th. The beauty editor called to let me know that while I was a top candidate, the position had been eliminated due to anticipated budget cutbacks. I thanked her and hung up. Thirty seconds later I called her back and offered to do the job for free as long as I could continue to look for a paying gig. Needless to say, she was thrilled and after two weeks of “volunteering,” they officially hired me as the Assistant Beauty Editor but in a full-time freelance capacity. Who cared that I didn’t have health benefits or a 401K? (Well, other than my parents.) I was a beauty editor at Cosmo! I ended up working there for eight years.” — Andrea Lavinthal, Senior Beauty Editor, RealBeauty.com

She made sure to stay on her editors’ radars.
“I was one of the lucky few who graduated from college with an editorial assistant job, and while it would be easy to chalk it all up to luck and timing, I like to give myself some credit, too. I had interned in the health department at Glamour the previous summer, and when my supervisor’s assistant gave her two weeks notice in April, she emailed me to tell me I should definitely apply for her job. Since the three of us (health director, assistant, intern) had worked as a team all summer, I knew I had proven to them that I could handle EA-level responsibilities. The key, however, was staying on their radar all year so that they wouldn’t forget about me! Pitching story ideas and sending them updates on my own student journalism work showed them that I was still interested and still improving, and they immediately thought of me when the job popped up.” — Kim Tranell, Health Editor, Seventeen

She switched careers.
“By senior year in college, as a major in English and American lit, I was convinced I wanted to be an ad copywriter. I’d spent my summers temping at a big ad agency in NY, and I loved the creative, freewheeling atmosphere (there was a ping-pong table set up in one department). After graduation, I temped in the agency’s media buying department, the place that decides where to place clients’ ads. They had every magazine under the sun, and after devouring each and every one of them on a constant basis, I decided magazines would be a better fit for me. I was dubious about breaking in; I didn’t know a single person in the business, and there were no networking groups like Ed2010 or MediaBistro at the time. I sent my resume and cover letter to HR departments at the big publishing companies and I hit up my alumni office for leads. I got some interviews here and there but nothing seemed quite right, including the editorial assistant gig at a magazine an agency described as being run by a “very family-friendly company” (it was Penthouse). Then I answered a blind ad in The New York Times’ classified section for an editorial assistant at a major women’s magazine that turned out to be Redbook. I went in and wowed them with…my typing skills. I mentioned that I was willing to do anything to get my foot in the door, and that even though I knew how to write I realized I had a lot to learn about editing and the workings of a magazine. I got the job. (Later, my bosses told me my enthusiasm had impressed them as well.) Ultimately, I think making it clear that I was gung-ho to learn, and that I didn’t expect to come in and start writing and editing right off bat pretty much helped me land the position. Twenty-three months into that job, I was promoted to associate editor.” — Ellen Seidman, Freelance Magazine and Web Editor

He was persistent…really, really persistent.
I graduated college with a degree in Landscape Design and moved here to work with a company where I had previously interned. I decided six months after graduation to go into journalism and started calling MLB.com’s office in August 2007 just to see if they were looking for part-time writers. I can’t remember exactly how I found the number, but it was a main line discovered through a Google search. Then I looked up their address, visited the building and “accidentally” snuck into the office through a back door. I had intended to go through the front lobby but ended up on a different elevator. I was walking behind an employee and just acted like I worked there as he entered his security card through the door (there are a lot of people who work there). So I strolled through the office to get a taste for it. I kept calling that number for four more months to speak with HR and visited the office again (this time through the front) to ask to speak with someone in HR about a job. I had also been e-mailing HR the entire time, about once every two weeks. Now it was March 2008 and I still hadn’t heard a peep from them. I decided I had to up my aggressiveness and went back to their front lobby and demanded a phone number from the secretary. I didn’t even specify who I wanted; just someone who could help answer whether I could work there. I sent my resume again to HR (at least the 12th time I had done that) and proceeded to call the woman whose number I received every day for the next seven work days, sometimes even twice a day. I never heard from her on any call but apparently she got tired of my incessant calling and forwarded my resume to the man who would be my general boss. He notified the man who would be my direct boss and that guy called me in for an interview. They had me speak with four guys in a conference room. I was intimidated but pretended like I was confident and got the job. I worked there for two seasons but preferred to work more as a freelance reporter, which is what I am doing now. — Kyle Stack, Writer, MLB.com

She has Ed to thank!
I just landed my first full-time job up here in NY. I worked as an intern last summer at Us Weekly and Country Living, then worked as a freelance reporter for Us Weekly while I finished up my journalism degree at the University of Florida. I started interviewing for jobs in March, and after one hellacious day of interviews in the pouring rain, finally landed a job as Assistant Editor at Worth Magazine. It was just two weeks after my graduation that I landed a job, and pretty much all thanks to Ed! — Ashley Ross, Assistant Editor, Worth

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