EDvice: Networking to your First Job

Allie Baker, Associate Editor at Self

Ed knows you pile your plate high and may not be able to see every speaker he brings to campus, so he’s going to make this easy. Every week this semester he’s looking to treat you to a juicy Q&A session with an editor– delivered straight to your computer. Keep checking back to the website for our latest guest speaker and the newest piece of advice.

With March putting us in the thick of interview season (for both internships and now entry-level jobs), Ed welcomes back Self‘s Associate Editor Allie Baker, Syracuse alum (’08) and former Ed exec to talk about the “n” word: networking. An ASME internship at More connected her to the many magazines in the Meredith Corporation, through which she set up several informational interviews. Eventually, she met the editor who clued her into her first industry position at Family Circle. Now in Self‘s nutrition department, she’s ready to share her wealth of knowledge– what worked and what she’d do differently– with this next class of Ed.

 

ED: What’s the story behind your big break into the magazine industry?

Networking played a huge role in how I landed my first magazine gig. I did four internships while I was at Newhouse. They weren’t all glamorous (I spent one summer writing about dry cleaning solvents for Process Cleaning magazine), but they helped me land the American Society of Magazine Editors internship at More magazine the summer before my senior year. When I wasn’t researching or fact-checking there, I was networking with editors. My supervisor was nice enough to help me set up informational interviews with several editors on staff. I asked them to tell me about their favorite assistant, so I could get an idea of what makes a great EA. One of the features editors introduced me to her former assistant, and I met up with her to pick her brain about the industry. I kept in touch with her throughout my senior year, and she was the one who gave me the heads up about an EA position in the food and health departments at Family Circle. I applied and got it!

ED: What strategies did you use for effective networking?

I went to every Ed event, and I met a ton of people through that. I also reached out to complete strangers. I went through the Newhouse database of alums and checked out the mastheads of my favorite magazines. I sent polite networking emails to those people letting them know I really admired their work, and I planned trips to NYC over breaks so I could set up informational interviews with them. Most people I emailed got back to me, and were extremely nice and helpful.

It’s really dorky, but I also set up a big Excel spreadsheet with the names and contact info of everyone I met through internships, Ed and networking. Every few months, I sent individual emails to everyone on the spreadsheet to say hello and keep them updated.

ED: If you could do it all over again, what might you do differently?

AB: I would be less timid. There are a few people I met through Ed who I really admired, but I was too nervous to keep in touch with. In a strange coincidence, I ended up sitting next to one of those people on a plane last year. I sucked it up and said hello and explained that I met her at an Ed event years back, and I loved her work. She was so nice and gracious about it. Since leaving school, I’ve learned that most editors genuinely want to help and they like hearing from students as long as the emails are polite and not pushy. The worst that can happen is that the editor doesn’t respond, so why not try? It’s worth it to put yourself out there!

ED: What tips would you have for writing an effective networking note without seeming to be nagging?

AB: The key to a good networking email is to make it personal. Never send the same email to multiple people. Tell the person about a story they wrote that you particularly loved or congratulate them on an award their magazine won. And then tell them a little bit about what you’ve been up to, but keep it short and sweet. It’s nice to email every few months or so, but more than that can be too much.

ED: What can students do now?

AB: Some of the most important networking I did was at Newhouse. You’re surrounded by amazing, brilliant professors, so take advantage of it. Got to professors’ office hours and get to know them outside of class. I know several people who got jobs or interviews after being recommended by Newhouse professors. And don’t forget Ed! He’ll help you meet great people and land the best internships.

 

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