What advice can you give recent graduates?
Try your hardest not to get discouraged. You’ll see your [non-magazine] friends landing jobs at big companies, entering sales training programs, making pretty good salaries, etc. You are not in the same kind of business so don’t compare yourself to them. You may not get a job right out of school and you may not even have a staff position a year after you graduate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work in the industry as soon as you want to. There is always some publication that needs your help. So jump right in wherever you can. It will lead you to where you’re supposed to be, and by getting in somewhere—even if it’s not your dream job—that will help keep you from feeling like “I’ll never get a job in this business!” Don’t let yourself get that attitude. Stay positive and keep yourself focused on learning and opportunities will start to turn up.
What is your biggest regret when first starting out in the magazine industry?
My biggest regret was not enjoying New York City more. I was so scared about being broke—which I was—that I didn’t go out as much as I should have. I should have found ways to have fun cheaply instead of thinking there was no way to have fun without spending a lot of money. Use your creativity and resources to experience all that New York has to offer, because as you rise up the ladder in the biz, you will have less time to do so!
Do you have an most embarrassing moment at an internship or entry-level job?
I can’t really think of one … I think it’s because in the beginning, I was very much about being observant and learning from what I saw others do, as opposed to running out and trying to prove myself before I was ready. I was very careful about how I proceeded with projects—asking questions and paying very close attention to how things were done. So I can’t remember embarrassing myself early on… I definitely embarrass myself more now!
What do you wish you would’ve known when you were first starting out that you know now?
That even if you don’t know anyone in the business, it’s not very long—maybe a few years—before you have colleagues at many different places. Your network grows very naturally and quickly, and that takes you through your career; you will all help each other all along the way. I used to think, how am I going to do this? I know no one. But you’ll see that the people you meet in your internships and at your first job are the ones who will help you—and who you will help—years into the future.
— Yelena Shuster, Ed Reporter