Thursday, August 8, 2013

Advice From A Senior Editor: "It's All Going To Be Okay"

Hey Edsters,

This week was a d-o-oozy. I failed to receive a freelancer check on time (yay! more cheese sandwiches for breakfast/lunch/dinner!) and I was a witness to one of the most heartbreaking things I've heard yet about this tough industry that we love so much.

One of my closest friends here is an aspiring 30-year-old social media guru. She has an undergraduate degree. She has a graduate degree. And... she's still searching for a job. It's tough to watch, especially when I'm gearing up to graduate next May.

On Monday, she finally got that envious second interview by a fashion PR company that was looking for a new digital media manager. We were both dying of excitement. Unfortunately, she walked out of the office thinking that she had bombed the interview.

But wait! On Tuesday, she was called back in and, gasp, hired! As a freelancer for a trial period (which is normal these days, or so I hear), but still. And at $22/hour, no less. Things were looking up.

She went in on Wednesday to help the company out with a couple of huge events that were happening this week. As far as I know, she sent emails and collected Twitter handles. Hundreds of them. 

Fast forward to Thursday. Halfway through the day, I get this text: "So, I got fired."

My heart dropped into my stomach. How? Why? Certainly not because she spelled one Twitter handle wrong, right? 

As far as she could tell, it seemed like the company needed some extra hands for their events, and then after the bulk of the work had been finished, they were pretty finished with her too. The only explanation she got was: "I don't think it's going to work out."

Having just witnessed that debacle, I was feeling pretty low about all this career business. I'm going through a soul-searching period right now, and I made a coffee date with an old editor I used to work for to try and clear the air. Basically, I wanted to hear how much she loved my work and how I'll have no problem finding a job, I'm in the perfect position, etc., etc.

Obviously, that didn't happen, because that senior editor is not my personal cheerleader. What I heard instead was even better. She listened quietly as I poured out my heart, telling her all that I had been feeling about second-guessing writing and how it felt too late to turn back now. It wasn't my finest moment, but hey, I was desperate.

When I finally finished my self-pitying stream of nonsense, she smiled and leaned in. "Honey, you haven't even graduated yet," she said, laughing a little. "What I wouldn't give to be back in your position, when I actually had one day a week off work and I could relax a little." At this point she looked at me knowingly, and I actually believed that she did miss being back in school for a second. 

"But..." I sputtered, at a loss for words. "What about if I'm at the wrong school, or in the wrong major..."

"Child," she said, throwing up her hands. "I was a psych major at the University of Michigan." (She's now a senior market editor at a top fashion magazine—my favorite one, actually). "Just enjoy your time now. It's all going to be okay."

And for some reason, by the end of our 10 minute conversation, I did feel a lot more confident in myself. She hadn't told me anything I wanted to hear, but maybe that's because it wasn't what I needed to hear. If a psych major from a huge state school could get one of the top jobs at a top fashion magazine, I think I might be able to work my own doubt out. 

As always, I'll keep you posted on how my newfound confidence plays out. But for now: Have you heard any great advice lately? What keeps you motivated through your own self-doubt?

Until next week,

Ed's Entertainment Intern


  1. I've been there. My first internship was unpaid and was in Washington, D.C. I'm from a small town in the South, and I've always felt that where I attended school has hindered me from landing the bigger internships with the more "notable" news organizations. And I specifically remember one coffee date I had with a friend, who wonderfully reassured me that it's not the end of the world, after I told him about feeling being lost and unsure with my chosen profession.

    That senior editor you talked to was completely right--I'm a senior student right now, and I have terrible anxiety about my job outlook after I graduate. I also have felt that defeated feeling of "It's-too-late-to-pick-another-career" after all the effort I have put into my journalism degree. And it's really hard not to feel that way after an Ivy league-er lands that prestigious internship you've been clamoring for when they've had no internships that you could tell from their LinkedIn page.

    But I digress.

    The best piece of wisdom I have ever received was actually when I was scrolling through Tumblr while procrastinating: "Change your thoughts, and you change your world." Self-doubt is pointless. Being jealous like I was is pointless. We have to be our own biggest cheerleader despite what the world throws at us. And your friend will find another job! It sucks right now, but in the name of being completely cheesy, she's going to find success at another job. :)

  2. I love this a million times over. We can't control that Ivy League-er's resume compared to ours, but we can control our thoughts and actions over what the world throws at us. And I'm in my senior year too, so I haven't had the job experience yet, but I think that kind of self-awareness counts for a lot once we get out there. All the better to be working on it now!