Everyone knows it’s tough to land your first job in magazines, and with unemployment still at 10% and pubs shuttering by the minute, the job search has gotten way harder. But five editorial assistant candidates have stood out and gotten hired in the past few months despite the odds against them. Read on to hear how they did it and how you can be next.
Keep in touch with your editors.
“I interned at Time Out New York Kids back in 2007 and loved it, so when an EA position opened up two years later, I knew I had to apply. There were over 600 hundred applicants (a product of the current job market, no doubt), and if I hadn’t kept up with my old editors, I’m sure that my resume would have gotten lost in the HR inbox. So giving up one summer of laying by the lake to work for free really did pay off! Even when I was job-searching for a year after graduation, my editors at TONY Kids forwarded my resume along to friends at other magazines. I got a lot of interviews and freelance gigs that way.”
-Blair Tidwell, EA at TONY Kids, hired in Aug. 09
Be willing to do anything during internships.
“Step up and do the admin-y stuff that other interns don’t want to do. Editors will start thinking of you when more interesting work (like writing!) comes up. At one of my internships, I was fact-checking. Between the phone calls and research, I found myself becoming knowledgeable on an array of random subjects. Little did I know that my regular fact-checking would help me land my current job! They were on the prowl for someone with that kind of experience. Also, between my two editorial internships, I never turned down a writing assignment. During my interview [for my current editorial assistant job], the executive editor complimented me on the variety of my clips as she flipped from one story about beauty deals to another covering a gospel competition. I couldn’t have been happier that I’d taken those on.”
-Lauren Otis, EA at Cosmopolitan, hired in Nov. 09
Be honest about your qualifications.
“I had a strong resume with internships at big-name mags like GQ, Playboy, and Vogue, but I had zero business experience. Getting hired at a business magazine seemed like a long shot. But when I went into my final interview with the editor-in-chief of Inc., I didn’t pretend that I was a “business person” when I very clearly was not. I told her that I knew I was probably up against people with stronger business backgrounds and knowledge than I had, but I would work harder, faster, and more efficiently than anyone else. I said that I thought it was more important to be driven and a quick learner than it is to be well versed in the subject matter at hand. In the end, I think our personalities meshed well, and she got a sense of the type of assistant and reporter I would be, regardless of whether or not I knew how to calculate a gross margin (I’m learning!).”
-Lindsay Silberman, Assistant to the EIC/Reporter at Inc., hired in Dec. 09
Become an expert on one subject.
“My internships and college media experience focused on health journalism—and that’s what Good Housekeeping was looking for in an EA. I interned for Women’s Health during college and stayed on as a fact-checker through my senior year. Then, after graduation, I went to intern at Men’s Health. During college, I wrote articles for my journalism classes and campus media that related to health. My specific focus helped me in the job hunt: I now assist two people—and one of them is the health director.”
-Marnie Soman, EA at Good Housekeeping, hired in Oct. 09
Handle every assignment with enthusiasm.
“At my internship, no job was too small. I got watches fixed for editors, refinanced their second homes, bought Christmas presents for their nephews, and ordered flowers for their parents. I didn’t especially like those tasks, but I did them anyway and never complained! And don’t forget to hustle, hustle, hustle. I’m quick and I get things done! I also suggest taking time out from your work to get yourself organized. It might set you back momentarily, but it’s monstrously helpful in the long run. Also when training, write down everything: date, time, and who said it.”
-Anne Bauso, EA at MVP/NY, hired in Nov. 09