Q+A with Assistant to EIC at Seventeen Magazine

Ali Benveniste, VP of Ed Indiana, interviewed the assistant to  the  editor-in-chief at Seventeen Magazine. 
Meaghan O’Connor
What inspired you to apply for the job at Seventeen?
First of all, I grew up with Seventeen! I felt like I knew the brand inside and out, and have wanted to intern/work here for as long as I could remember. Secondly, I have a ton of respect for my current boss—Editor-in-Chief, Ann Shoket—so when this opportunity came along, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. It was a combination of me knowing how FUN, CHALLENGING, and FAST-PACE the job would be! It just seemed like the perfect fit!
What does a typical day on the job look like for you?
That’s a tough question to answer, because no day is ever the same! I have multiple responsibilities, and I’m constantly rotating between all of them — it’s definitely a balancing act! First and foremost, I’m the Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief, Ann Shoket. That means keeping her organized, prepping for meetings, scheduling meetings, and keeping her on track and on schedule every day. If she gets behind, everyone else does too, so that’s a really important piece of my job. When I’m not doing that, I assist our features editors with story ideas, pitches, and big picture thinking. My interest and editorial focus is in health, food, and fitness, so that’s the story research I enjoy most. I also supervise our HUGE team of features interns every semester. I’m in charge of finding, hiring, and ensuring they have a positive work experience during their time here. And lastly, I interact with readers! Whether on social media, reading their emails, or talking to them through in-person focus groups, I ensure that our staff is constantly connected to our reader—because at the end of the day, they keep us in business! 🙂

What’s your favorite part about your job?
 I think my favorite part of the job is supervising our interns. Its so much fun to see how they develop their skills and talents while they’re in the office. Last semester, all of our summer interns put together a group project and presented it to the entire staff toward the end of their time here. We were all so impressed with their findings and presentation skills… and I felt like the proud “intern mama!” All of our interns are so intelligent and hard-working… Sometimes I think I learn more from them than they do from me!
What advice do you have for an aspiring Assistant to the EIC?
Start working on your organizational and goal-setting skills early! Also think about personal branding…. i.e. What makes you the perfect candidate and how are you going to stand out among thousands and thousands of other people who want the same job? What’s your story and how does it demonstrate your professional experience and motivation to succeed?
What are the qualities of an ideal Assistant to the EIC?
Hm, that’s also a tough question because every EIC is looking for different qualities in his/her assistant. I think Ann hired me because she could clearly see how passionate I was about Seventeen, how motivated I was to learn as much as possible about the magazine industry, and how creative I was with my portfolio presentation and follow up. I think that, regardless, a great assistant is quick on his/her feet, does well under pressure and high-stress situations, is extremely organized, and can anticipate problems before they become actual problems. Oh, all those and a GREAT memory! You can’t forget anything… ever! Those are skills that I think all come pretty naturally to me, although I’m definitely still working on them all!
What do you feel is the hardest part of the job? What are some of the most important and valuable lessons you’ve learned?
It’s always go, go, go… with very little down time or time to reflect/regroup after huge assignments. But that’s typical for the magazine industry in general. Although I’d love more time to reflect on my own performance, ask for feedback, etc, sometimes you just have to keep projects moving forward. It’s a tough pace to keep up with, but it’s definitely taught me a lot about time management and prioritization!
What’s the coolest/most inspiring project you’ve worked on so far?
I helped compile a HUGE internship package in our May 2014 issue, as the primary reporter for the piece (my first print byline!). It was tough and exhausting interviewing and finding so many different interns from different industries to talk to, and it was definitely out of my comfort zone to interview so many of them, but I’m so proud of how the package turned out and hope that it was a huge help to our readers! I would have killed for advice like that while I was in college!