Receiving advice on looking for internships and applying for jobs in the magazine industry is always helpful, especially when it’s from the very people who are doing the hiring. After Chapter Magazines launch party we caught up with Lara Wilson, editor of Mollie Makes, Laura and Damien Santamaria, Editors of Sublime and Rebecca, past student at Solent who is now working at a beauty PR firm for their advice and opinions on getting your foot in the door of the magazine world.
What are the top things you look for when hiring an intern?
Lara: For Mollie Makes I’m looking at the kind of aesthetics that person has by looking at their blog or Instagram. That’s what is important for our magazine, to get the feel of a person through their online portfolio. They also need to show that they’re keen and friendly. Oh, and not too pestering.
Laura: We work from home [to produce Sublime magazine] so we hold a few trial interviews to see if the candidates are comfortable in that environment.
If a CV only has a couple of days work experience, is that still relevant to you?
Lara: Yes, it shows that your keen to take an opportunity.
Laura: For our internship programme we offer two days a week for 3 months, as we are a bi-monthly publication, you are then able to see the full process. Interns always have articles published in the magazine but we are picky on who we choose.
Damien: We are an exception, with larger publications it is hard to get the right training. We have had people who have worked for us but took time out to do two weeks at a Vogue placement, that was their dream intern, but after two days they returned to us. We’re open to let people go to other publications whilst they are with us.
What’s the best thing students could be doing with their free time?
Rebecca: It depends what avenue you want to go down, if it’s writing then pursue internships in writing to put on your CV. Apply to small publications and website, just do anything even if it’s for free. Get writing, even if it is just your blog, it’s a hobby and you enjoy it, but it shows that you are passionate about writing. Create a portfolio, even if its design work or photography.
Lara: It’s difficult to create content when you don’t have a purpose but try to create things for different audiences, as you will probably be accepted to places you’re not comfortable in. It’s good to set yourself targets. When I was doing my journalism training, everything we wrote we had to say what publications we’d pitch it to. It got you thinking commercially about who would actually buy that magazine from you.
Rebecca: Even when you’ve created strong features for your course, pitch it out to a publication that it would suit and try tailoring it to other magazines.
What are your top tips for staying confident in such a competitive industry?
Rebecca: Ask for feedback. If you get to a second stage interview and they say, ‘sorry you haven’t got the job,’ ask what I could have done to have been successful. Then build on their feedback. Also, if you get to a second stage interview, don’t think, ‘Oh, I didn’t get it,’ always take positives that you made it that far.
Lara: Don’t burn any bridges, I have worked my absolute gut off [before] and didn’t get the job, then you get angry. Sometimes it’s just not your time. As long as you keep working and keep in touch with those people, stay connected.
Laura: Don’t believe everything you’re told. Some people may say you can’t write, no, no, no! It’s just not right for the ideals of that person.
Don’t believe in everything you her, just believe in yourself.
It’s so daunting realising that you have to start building your career now as we will be finishing university so soon.
Laura: The best thing you can do is to start acting as a writer now. Believe in your role.
Lara: Sometimes even I think, maybe this isn’t good enough, but then I have to realise, ‘Yes I’m doing it, i’m actually here.’ You have to take control.
Rebecca: Even though you’re still learning, you don’t have to think that just because you are a student, that you can’t apply [for interns], just go for it!
We hope the wise words of the industry panel has inspired you to follow your career dreams just as much as it has us. Our favourite quotes from the interview…
‘Believe in yourself’ and ‘Just go for it!’