Diana Castaldini, former editorial assistant, Whole Living magazine

Ed staff with Diana

Fresh-faced Diana Castaldini most recently held a position as an editorial assistant at Whole Living magazine, a Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia publication. While in college, she cold emailed editors at her favorite magazines to score internships at O, The Oprah magazine, Redbook, and Good Housekeeping. She said that the biggest part of her job at Whole Living was making sure her boss was doing her job. Diana did that by helping out in anyway she could and took care of all the small stuff. Here are some words of advice from the up and coming magazine editor:

When it comes to getting internships/jobs:

  • People want to give jobs to people who want the jobs. You have to prove that you really want the gig, and are willing to work for it.
  • Every interaction with an editor is an opportunity to sell yourself.

When it comes to resumes:

  • Always attach your (one-page) resume during email interactions. Make the editor’s job easier by always having your resume at their fingertips.
  • Keep your resume simple. Make sure it’s easy to read and your contact information isn’t hard to find.

When it comes to cover letters:

  • State who you are with enthusiasm.
  • Don’t be afraid to cold email, especially lower ranked editors. You’ll be more likely to get a response with them than with senior editors.
  • Only put down a few key experiences that pertain to the job. Show them how you’ve already done what they’ll expect you to do.
  • Play up your strengths.
  • Tailor each cover letter to the job you’re applying for. Don’t send out a generic letter to a bunch of magazines. It’s not personal enough and the editors can sense it.
  • Follow up every other week to yield a response. If you receive nothing after a few tries, move on to other opportunities.

When it comes to interviewing:

  • Be prepared. Brainstorm potential questions and come up with answers. Rehearse them in your head.
  • Know how you’re presenting yourself, and figure out what you can improve on.
  • Always bring your resume and relevant clips.
  • Be familiar with recent articles, the magazine’s philosophy, and all the sections. The interviewer might ask you which section of the magazine is your favorite.
  • Be enthusiastic about the magazine; prove why you’re the best candidate for the position.
  • Show them your willingness to do anything and everything, even boring tasks. Be dedicated.
  • Look professional. Come well groomed with clean fingernails, not too much make up, and conservative attire. Nothing too flashy or revealing. It’s better to be safe than sorry, even when applying to a high fashion magazine.
  • Always come with questions for the interviewer to ask toward the end. That shows that you’re truly interested in the position and you’ve thought it through.
  • Always ask for the ratio of editorial to administrative tasks. Know what you’re getting into before you accept the position.
  • Always make eye contact, have a firm handshake, be personable, but poised.

When it comes to interning:

  • To get your foot in the door of a top magazine, you have to do whatever is needed—even if it’s crap work like getting lunches, coffee, etc., for your superiors. You have to WORK your way up the totem pole.
  • About halfway through an internship, ask to get your resume forwarded to the HR department. Ask for an informational interview with the company even when there isn’t a position available.

When it comes to being an editorial assistant:

  • An editorial assistant often takes care of administrative duties which include sales presentations, travel arrangements, special projects, research, and acting as a social media liaison. Diana said that 70-80% of her recent job duties were administrative.
  • To succeed as an EA, you have to be extremely organized, be able to withstand pressure, and expect assignments to come at you from all sides. You have to be vocal, articulate, and enthusiastic, constantly projecting positive energy even if you aren’t feeling positive at the moment.
  • Be willing to help the editor as much as possible, they can be scatter brained like all human beings.

“The first step is to become qualified. Next, you must believe that you are qualified, understand why you’re qualified, and convey that message to the employer,”—Diana Castaldini.

-Yelena Galstyan

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