SCOURING MY MILLIONS OF EMAILS I FOUND A NOTE I HAD WRITTEN TO ATTOSA RUBENSTEIN WHO WAS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF SEVENTEEN MAGAZINE AT THE TIME. SHE ACTUALLY REPLIED! HERE ARE HER WORDS OF WISDOM TO A HIGH SCHOOL KID WITH BIG FASHION DREAMS…
So you are interested in being an editor, are you? Excellent! I love hearing that, because it’s really fun (tough, but still fun!) job to have, and I would love to help you learn more about it.
In high school, I would recommend that you just write as much as possible. You could write for yourself (like in a journal or whatever) or write for the school or local paper. Just write. Because I want you to start developing your own voice and your own ideas of what works, communication-wise. Like, when I was in high school, I didn’t write for the school paper or anything. BUT I wrote really good letters. That was my way of communicating, and I tried to be as compelling as possible when I did that. My point in mentioning that to you is that your writing practice doesn’t have to be traditional. As long as you’re writing it’s good.
Also, you should read. Read whatever you like, but if you’re interested in being a magazine editor, you should definitely read lots of magazines. (Especially Seventeen! Ha ha, teasing!). And you read them in an educated way, notice the editor’s point of view. Is there a common theme? What is she trying to communicate to the reader? You can learn a lot that way about what you do and what NOT to do. Also, it’s good to get a sense of what magazines YOU really love and to watch those particular titles evolve. That way when (and it will happen, sister!) you interview at that place, you’ll really know what you’re talking about. FYI, most magazines (like Seventeen) don’t hire high school interns. There’s time for that in college.
Now college! Where should you go? Well, if you’re SUPER serious about getting into magazines, then I would suggest you go to college in New York City. (I went to Barnard College in NYC.) Even though there are magazines in other places, New York City is the magazine mecca and pretty much every major publication is based here. If you go to college in NYC, then you’ll get to intern year-round instead of competing for the summer internships with students from all over the country. Get it? If you’re an NYC student, you’ll go for a fall internship, do an awesome job, and then be on the inside track for summer. Nice!
The next big question is WHAT SHOULD I MAJOR IN? I’m going to give you advice, and many people would disagree with this, but I don’t care. It’s my opinion (and it worked for me!) that it doesn’t really matter what you major in. (I majored in Political Science.) I say this as someone who hires people and also as someone who made my way up in the business. Major in what you LIKE. As far as getting into magazines? It’s all about the work experience, so college is the time for you to really work on that. You need an internship; get one! How? Contact your favorite magazines and ask. Just find out the number through information and ask for Human Resources and ask about their internship program. But don’t call in May for an internship that starts in June. You should start looking about six to eight months in advance of the time you’d like to start interning. And be warned: Competition is TOUGH, so keep following up after you send your resume and cover letter. Like I said before, your best bet is to got for internships at magazines that you truly personally love. Editors are looking for people who totally get what is different and special about their magazine. You’ll need to sell them on that, but if that’s not how you authentically feel, it’ll show through. Plus, you’ll learn so much more and be a lot more successful working at a magazine you love. Trust me, that’s been the secret of my success.
Whew! I know, that was a lot. I hope it was helpful. You will do great no matter what field you decide to get into. Want to know how I know that? Because you’re smart enough to be asking these questions now. I hope it helps. Good luck – I know you will do great on this project and anything else you decide to do in the future.