IU alum Josh Sanburn works as a writer and reporter for TIME Magazine in New York City. Here, he speaks about his own job experiences and shares some valuable tips with Ed-sters:
When I first moved to New York, I was unemployed for three months until I landed a job as an editorial assistant at Time Inc. Content Solutions. TICS creates branded content for companies in a sort of gray area between advertising and journalism, something that is becoming much more valued today as news organizations look to make money online through native advertising. But did I move to New York to work for a branded content division? Not exactly. I ultimately wanted to write, but the kind of job I wanted didn’t come around until later. Much later. Still, two important things happened. First, one of my editors left TICS for New York Magazine. I kept in touch with him, which later allowed me to freelance for New York. Second, working for TICS got my foot inside Time Inc., where I started meeting people who worked for other publications in the building. Freelancing for New York and making contacts within Time Inc. were essential for getting a job with TIME Magazine five years later. The point of this story is that in all likelihood, your first job will not be what you dreamed about in college. But that’s ok. Things rarely work out that way. But you can use that first job to meet people, make contacts and hopefully hone your skills for what’s next.
As you look for that first job, keep in mind the kind of place you want to work and the sort of writing you want to do – even if it takes a while to get there. Want to work for Glamour? Find an editor and the format of the company’s e-mail addresses (it’s pretty easy to do with a little Googling) and shoot them a note saying you’d love to get coffee and talk about what they do. (Don’t say, I want a job! Hire me!) Honestly, they’ll likely be happy to meet. It doesn’t happen as often as you think. Also, it’s important that you know how to tell stories in a variety of formats. Magazine storytelling is no longer just about printed words on a page, and magazines won’t hire someone who can merely write long reads – even if you’re the next Tom Wolfe. Magazines increasingly value 100-word pieces online, video explainers, interactive illustrations, even engaging tweets. Editors are looking for versatile journalists who can jump from one format to the other and back seamlessly within hours. Finally, don’t be overly discouraged about the difficult job market. As long as you’re willing to be versatile, there are jobs. And don’t worry about that first one (or second, or third) being your dream job. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn along the way.