Passion and sincerity: key ingredients to breaking into the magazine industry

The first session I attended this morning was “How to Get a Job in Magazine Publishing,” led by magazine editor Josh Garrick. The very first tip gave by Garrick? “Don’t be afraid to open shut doors.” This was both fitting and humorous for the situation, as all but six attendees stood outside of the door, assuming a previous session was still going on when, in reality, Garrick had inadvertently started his session at 11:00. When Garrick restarted his lecture, though, I found his session to be useful, but slightly redundant, as some of the advice was common knowledge.

The main point I grabbed from his session is the importance of informational interviews. Since the magazine industry is very much based in who you know, rather than what you know, Garrick emphasized how important it was for all magazine writer wannabes to choose an article they sincerely liked in a magazine they want to write for, contact the author in writing and set up what he called an informational interview: a 15-minute increment of time in which the writer would critique your portfolio or resume. The importance in this is to put a face to your name, and to show, in person, the passion and desire you have to write for that publication. Following that, he encouraged all attendees to then ask for the names of two other contacts in that magazine. Then, when a position opens up, multiple people could remember you.

Another point Garrick stressed was that it is most important to have as many bylines and portfolio pieces as possible. Education is important, of course, but what a potential employer is most interested in is seeing what you have as far as editorial content goes, and that you went ahead and wrote as much as possible. Writing for a magazine is most ideal, of course, but any type of byline is a great addition to a portfolio.

Some other things Garrick said during his session included:

  • People who have passion for writing will be the ones who get jobs.
  • Editors care about what your writing is going to do for readers.
  • Be flexible.
  • Eliminate “I want” out of your speech in searching for a job or internship.
  • Listen to what your editor has to say.
  • Send a handwritten thank you note after any interview, informational or otherwise.
-Ashley Fahey
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