The #1 Thing to Know About the Job Hunt

May 15, 2012

As I’m back on the job hunt, I got to thinking about a blog post that I wrote for ELLE Canada‘s Fresh Faces blog about this same time last year whenever people ask me for advice on how to break into the industry… and the #1 advice I have to give? It’s all about who you know.

One day nearing the end of my internship last summer, I went for sushi lunch with ELLE Canada‘s Beauty Director, Vanessa Craft, Features Editor, Kathryn Hudson, Associate Editor, Ally Dean, and Beauty Intern, Barbora Simek. After a busy morning of line-up meetings, brainstorming, and beginning fact-checking assignments for the October issue, I hungrily accepted my editors’ invite.

After ordering our edamame and sushi rolls, the five of us started chatting about job prospects in the Canadian magazine industry. We all came to the agreement that, when it comes to finding a job, it’s all about who you know. After two years of wading around in this industry searching for my “dream” job, I’ve been learning this for myself.

After graduating with a BA in Honours Philosophy and English four years ago, I planned to go to law school. Basically, my entire life had worked towards this plan. At the last minute, I changed my mind and decided to pursue journalism. I grew up watching MuchMusic and Entertainment Tonight, and I always wished I could work in the entertainment industry. I romanticized what it meant to be a journalist, a roving reporter, interviewing all of my favourite bands. I had always loved writing. Then one day it hit me: why couldn’t I do this?! I applied to Concordia University’s one-year graduate journalism program weeks before the deadline, and was admitted two months later.

When I graduated in 2009, I moved to Toronto for an internship at MTV Canada. This was during the recession, so jobs were scarce and massive layoffs and hiring freezes were rampant. After my internship, I worked as a stylist at a local boutique, and it was there that I started to develop my interest in fashion and personal style. On the side, I pursued different roles within communications: I wrote and edited for an online magazine, dabbled in music PR, worked as a production assistant for Bravo TV,  worked in marketing at an investment firm and a healthcare IT company, and completed an editorial internship at ELLE Canada.

It might sound circuitous, but it’s actually a fairly typical career route for many people in the industry. Some people get lucky, or are in the right place at the right time and start a job right after graduation, while others complete many internships, short-term contracts, and jobs outside of their preferred industry before they finally get their break within it.

The first impressions you make are essential. The industry is very small, and people move around quite a bit, so you’ll likely be bumping into the same people for years. It’s also very competitive, and the best way for your resume to get noticed is through a personal recommendation.

So, to pass along the sage wisdom given to me at lunch today: as you work towards your big break, don’t discount any of your experiences or the people you’ve met along the way. You never know when someone will think of you for a job, or assignment—even if it happens years down the road.

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