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Ed’s Trust Fund Babies: Where Are They Now? Update: Christen Brandt

Ed’s always tried to make the path a little easier with his Trust Fund, a $1,200 award he gives each semester to one lucky unpaid intern with a remarkable story and a passion for magazine media. Where have his past winners gone? Everywhere. From magazines to marketing, from the east coast to the west, Ed’s Trust Fund babies are true trailblazers in the industry. Over the coming weeks we’ll check in on past winners to see what they are doing now. — Interviews by Kristen Granero and Alyssa Bailey

Here, he catches up with Christen Brandt (above, at left), former O, The Oprah Magazine intern, who landed the Ed Trust Fund in summer 2010.

Christen got her start at Parents magazine as a freelance EA and then at Glamour, running its Top 10 College Women program. But her passion for the project she and a college friend started, She’s The First, an NGO focused on sponsoring girls’ education, led her to take a full time position there in 2013. She’s now director of international operations. “It was a whirlwind few years!” she tells Ed.

Ed: What’s the biggest lesson you took from O, The Oprah Magazine, and how has it helped you now?
CB: Interning here taught me how important the little things can be — especially when it comes to research. Every story and every nonprofit program will be made better with a solid base of research behind it. It’s something I put into action constantly in my day-to-day now, whether the research is completed by an intern, a volunteer or myself.

Ed: How has the trust fund helped you in your career?
CB: Working in magazines taught me so many important skills that I’ve brought into the NGO world with me: communication, marketing, even design. Without the trust fund, I never would have been able to afford a dream internship, which would have prevented me from joining the magazine industry in the first place. Plus, you can probably guess how valuable media contacts are when you work in non-profits. I still owe so much to Ed!

Ed: What’s your best career advice to date?
CB: If there’s ever a time in your life when you have to work hard, it’s when you’re first starting out. But one of my mentors always stressed to me the importance of making time for you, too — because if you’re not happy, your work will suffer along with the rest of you. So yes, take risks and work your butt off, but remember to give yourself a Friday night with friends and a Sunday morning bubble bath!

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