Finally! After countless hours networking and interning, dozens of interviews, and loads of racked-up credit card debt, you’ve landed your first “real job”…at the title where you’ve previously interned. It’s like a dream come true—proof that those extra hours in the office paid off and your hard work was noticed. But your first challenge won’t be conferencing in calls to your boss; instead you’ll need to mentally shift from intern to full-time staffer.
It’s a weird line to straddle: You’re new to the staff, but you know pretty much everyone and a lot of the inner workings at the magazine. As an intern, you were at the staff’s beckon call, but now as EA you have your own responsibilities to tend to. (And you thought the hard part would be figuring out your health insurance and what the heck a flexible spending account is.)
To keep your head out of the clouds and focused on the job, Ed sat down with a few lucky Edsters who are in this situation and are succeeding with flying colors. Here are a few points to help you switch gears from “great intern” to whatever title you now proudly include in your email signature.
1. Pride yourself on what you already know…
Yes, it’s important to take advantage of the perks provided by your magazine, but it’s just as important to tap into your intern insider-knowledge! All those tedious admin tasks like learning about file locations, how to use the big scary scanner/printer/fax machine, and how to do expense reports will now come in extra handy. “At first I didn’t realize that for most entry-level magazine jobs you won’t be writing and editing a ton,” says Arianna, an editorial assistant at a women’s magazine. “Instead you will also be assisting an editor and having to use those same admin skills you learned as an intern. Once I was hired, I was extremely grateful for everything I learned.”
2. But be honest about what you need help with…
Adjusting to the increased workload and title change can be a bit of a challenge. “I already knew most of the staff and was very familiar with the magazine, so I asked questions and referred to my prior experiences as an intern anytime I felt a little lost or overwhelmed,” said Arianna.
But if you move to a new magazine, even if it’s in the same building, it can be trickier to get adjusted. “I think my transition has been smooth because I stayed within the same publishing company,” says Dori, an assistant photo editor at a women’s magazine. “But every magazine has its own workflow and learning the ropes while trying to prove yourself can be challenging.”
What’s a good way to adjust? “Often times I’ll just take a deep breath and break a task into small, manageable goals, asking questions along the way if I need to,” says Devin, an editorial assistant at a women’s magazine. “Before I know it, the job is done!”
3. Recognize that you now have help too.
After years of fending for yourself out there, it’s easy to forget that there are people in the office (interns!) whose job is to not only make your life a little easier, but to also learn from you. But keep in mind that delegating is no easy task. “After handling all the intern duties at my magazine, I know which ones I enjoyed and which ones I didn’t,” says Karen, an editorial assistant at a family magazine. “So of course I don’t want to stick anyone with the less-than-fun assignments!” But as we all know, internships aren’t only about fun. “A good intern will take on anything that’s handed to him or her, and I have to keep that in mind,” says Karen.
4. Don’t let your new salary burn a hole in your pocket
Karen sums it up perfectly: “Becoming an EA is all about budgeting both your time and your money.” We’re definitely not saying you shouldn’t splurge on some new professional ensembles with your modest EA salary, but just because your building has an amazing cafeteria (ahem – Hearst employees) doesn’t mean you should stop brown baggin’ it. “Just like everywhere else, this industry isn’t quite stable yet,” says Devin. “So it makes me feel better to invest in a healthy savings account rather than a dozen new dresses from Bergdorf’s!” We hate to sound like a nag, but really, young whippersnappers, save that dough!
5. Be aware of higher expectations. (Read: Work harder!)
You’re making tons of new friends on staff, you’re enlightening this semester’s batch of interns, and you’re even saving a few bucks. You’ve got it made! Just so long as you remember to keep up the hard work that got you to where you are today. Not only are you proving yourself now more than ever, but you are also making your editors think, “Wow, I wish we would’ve hired her a long time ago!” As an intern, you were the first there in the morning and the last one to leave at night. So why change your habits now? Keep up the routine and work harder than ever before so you can take on more responsibilities in the future. Giving your editors a constant reminder of why they hired you in the first place is your ticket to the top. Before you know it, you’ll be bragging to Ed about your first promotion!