By Erin Quinn
I have known since I was a
teenager growing up in Springfield,
Missouri, that I wanted to be a
magazine editor. I was editor of the yearbook for two years in high school and went
to the University of Missouri for Journalism School.
Two weeks after graduation, I moved to New
York, ready to start my magazine career.
Unfortunately, it wasn't easy. It took me a full year to get an editorial
assistant job. I moved to New York
on June 2, 2002, and I started as an editorial assistant at Allure exactly one
year later, on June 2, 2003. It was a rocky year. I did everything I could to
make contacts and gain experience in magazines, and I tried to make some money
(so I could do those pesky things like pay my rent and eat) at the same time.
I knew when I moved to New York that the job
market was bad, so I said from the start that I would take any editorial
assistant position I was offered (but my ideal job would have been as an EA for
the entertainment or features editor). After two months of sending out tons of
resumes (I applied for every editorial assistant position and editorial
internship posted on mediabistro.com and ed2010.com) I took an unpaid internship in the entertainment department of Redbook in August 2002. After a month of
working at Redbook, I got a call to
temp at Time Inc. (I had had an informational interview with Time Inc. HR in June,
and then called them every week until they found me a temp job). I worked in
the fashion department at In Style
for three months, moved on to Time Pix
(which is now defunct) as a substitute photo account executive during the
holidays, then on to Fortune where I
acted as photo assistant for four months. Temping at Time Inc. was wonderful. I
met great people, made good money ($15 an hour), and learned about other areas
Throughout my nine months
at Time Inc., I interviewed for EA jobs at just about every magazine under the
sun. I went on at least 40 interviews
during that year, and did 10 or 15 edit tests (each was different, but always
included copyediting a piece of text, writing display copy, and submitting
story ideas), but nothing seemed to work out. Talk about an emotional roller
coaster! Luckily, I am an optimistic person, so I never wanted to pack up and
go home. I knew I would find a job; it was the waiting that was the hard part.
The biggest lesson I
learned while looking for a job was that New
York is all about networking. A job, an apartment,
and even a date are found by constantly meeting and chatting with new people. I must admit, when I moved here I wanted
to find an EA job without any help. I had to prove to myself that I could
find a job on my own. But, that is just not how this city works. So, in January
2003 I emailed Chandra (the founder of this great website), told her I'd been
job-hunting for seven months, and asked if she would meet me for coffee so I
could pick her brain. Luckily, she said yes, and gave me tons of invaluable
advice during our 45-minute coffee date.
After that meeting, I used
Chandra's tips to rework my resume and cover letter. I also just kept chugging
along: checking mediabistro.com and ed2010.com obsessively, applying for every
editorial assistant job that I saw on the web or heard about, and going on
interview after interview. I was never scared to email or call to follow-up on
interviews or jobs that I just never heard about again. I like to think I was
eager, though I'm sure some of the HR people I stalked would say I was
annoying! Finally, I found the perfect
job as an editorial assistant at Allure.
I had set up an informational interview with Condé Nast Human Resources in
August 2002, and after not hearing from them for nine months, they just called
me out of the blue one day. Unbeknownst to me, they had held on to my resume
that entire time.
I had wanted to work in
entertainment and features, and that is the position I got at Allure. Out of all the interviews I went
to, Allure was the first job that perfectly matched what I had wanted. I guess
it was meant to be!