Thursday, March 7, 2019

What I Do As An Editorial Assistant

Apparently, my mind was still on vacation mode with my lack of post yesterday. It always seems to be that way when arriving back from a trip since you plan ahead beforehand so that you can really enjoy it and then wind up feeling behind when you get back since I never do as much work as I think I will on vacation. Either way, I am back today to answer a question I often get, both through the blog and in real life. What do as an editorial assistant do? 

I asked myself this question when I saw the job posting and applied this past summer and to sum it up, in my case at least, an editorial assistant gets to do a little bit of everything. For those of you who may have googled the question and need some background, I have been working as an editorial assistant for a magazine since the beginning of September. I only work on one title. However, the company I work for has 13 different publications meaning that other people are doing the same thing as me for different titles within our company. Even from brand to brand our job as an editorial assistant differs some so this post will be solely based around what I know but understand that it is likely to differ depending on where you are or who you are working for. 

I recently had an email from a reader, hi Holly, where she asked me some really great questions about my job. Some of my responses are included below, and I did my best to break it up in an organized manner.

What are some of the tasks you are responsible for? 

Like I mentioned, I get to do a little bit of everything in my role. From scheduling out our social media to communicating with brands and customers to even writing pieces for the magazine I am able to see parts of the entire process. 

When it comes to what you see in the magazine, there are columns I am responsible for in each issue as well as additional pieces I am assigned to write. The behind the scenes of each of those columns can look very different and also take varying amounts of time depending on what it is. I also read everyone else’s copy three times (as does everyone on our team) before it ever goes into print. I am the first person to read our binder once it is printed out meaning that I check page numbers, credits, etc. to ensure that it is ready for the next team member’s read. The writing for me tends to take longer than a typical blog post would take since I still feel as though I am discovering our brand’s voice. 

Something else that it isn’t uncommon to find me doing at my desk is sourcing photos and creating captions to schedule our social media posts. We post twice a day (aside from Sunday, we only post once then) on a variety of platforms, so I feel like that is where I create the most content. I try my best to work ahead on social posts in case something unexpected comes up so if there is ever a time where I am waiting for my next assignment, I am probably scheduling social posts. In addition to scheduling the posts, I also respond to comments across our platforms to engage with our followers. 

Customer service and general outreach are also a part of my job. Whenever someone emails our magazine about a question, I am the first to have that come to my inbox meaning that I am usually the one responding to them. I communicate with brands about products we may need to complete different shoots for upcoming features as well as communicating with our team and stylists about things that they may need an extra set of hands with. 

One of my favorite tasks as an editorial assistant is serving as an extra set of hands-on photo shoot days. I love seeing all that goes into creating the imagery that goes into the issue and feel like I’ve learned so much from the stylists, photographers, and test kitchen chefs when it comes to what they do. Some of the shoots take place in the studio while others are on location locally. We shoot about a year in advance (to be true to the season and light) so I was averaging about two full-day shoots a week around Christmas time and decorate and un-decorated more Christmas trees than most people would in a decade (the same goes for the number of presents I wrapped and unwrapped for these different shoots). Since the weather is gloomier at the start of the year, I haven’t been out of the office for those as much but am certainly excited whenever one is scheduled! 

While that covers some of my larger responsibilities, I feel like it barely grazes the surface of all the different tasks I may complete. Aside from just my role, there are so many things I love about our company as a whole. There are a lot of people my age that work here that I’ve become friends with which is certainly a perk, we have a test kitchen in the office and are constantly getting emails about delicious treats available to us in the break room (which has an ice maker that makes Chick-Fil-A like ice), and I’m able to choose my hours meaning that I am able to work longer Mondays-Thursdays so that I always have a half day on Friday. Talk about job perks! 

What advice would you give someone who is interested in entering this field?

This applies in most fields but do your research. In the magazine industry that means following along on social media, subscribing to the publication, and reading articles all in an attempt to better understand the target audience and voice. I still feel like I have a lot to learn with this as all magazines are different (our company has 13 different titles, and the writing styles for each are all different from one another). 

I also suggest reaching out to people whose articles you’ve read and enjoyed. Ask them about their experience with the company, how they got to where they are now, and any advice they may have for someone looking to pursue a career in the field. I may have over researched and even had conversations with people who had interned or done fellowships in positions I was interested in even when they were no longer necessarily working in that same job. 

Did having your blog help you stand out as a candidate for your current position?

I think that having a blog helped in the sense of showing the people I interviewed with that I was passionate about something in the field and consistent in creating content as well. I think what helped more so than having a blog was taking the time to create an online portfolio as well as a print portfolio to bring along to the interview. I figured that I would be asked what experience I had creating editorial content for a print publication so since I didn’t have any, I decided to create one myself to bring to the interview. Although I’ve never asked, my guess is that doing this showed my interest, creativity, and willingness to learn new things all while giving the interviewer a tangible example of my writing, social media organization and caption ideas, and resume. I also think that writing a thank you note to each of the people I talked to at the company and sending them out the same day as the interview was probably an important touch as well. 

What was the application process like? 

I believe initially after discovering the opening, all that I was required to send to show interest was my resume. Because I can be a bit of an overachiever (and was an elementary education major with fear that my application would be ignored if I didn’t oversell myself), I also included a cover letter and link to an online resume/portfolio that I made. The HR director got back to me, and we had an initial phone call about what the job would entail and whether or not I was interested in moving along to the next step. During that call, we scheduled a two-hour edit test that I had to do remotely since I wasn’t local to Birmingham at the time. That edit test included a few scenarios/tasks that needed to be completed and emailed back within the time allotted. After reviewing the edit test (mine and other people who applied I would assume), they invited me into the office for an in-person interview. I believe the interview was about three weeks after I initially reached out. During that interview, I spoke with the HR director, editor, managing editor, and the son of the owner who serves as president/COO. The beginning was more of an interview with them asking specific questions while toward the end it was very conversational. About a week and a half later (during which I assumed they were interviewing other candidates), the HR director called me to offer me the job. I started about a week later (once my lease started). 

How did you come across the position?

After deciding not to teach another year in April of 2018, I realized that I needed to get on board creating a LinkedIn to discover as many jobs out there as possible. While LinkedIn is not the only way to go about discovering who is hiring, since I was moving someplace new it allowed me to start getting a feel for the companies in town. That kind of led to a rabbit hole effect where I would discover one company and happen across another one similar which increased my exposure to potential places that could be hiring. I had a long list on my phone of any place in Birmingham, Alabama (where I moved) that I had even the slightest interest in during my lengthy LinkedIn escapades. When it came time for me to start applying, I started going to the sites of each of these different businesses to see if they were hiring. When I initially did this, Hoffman Media (the parent company of Southern Lady) didn’t have any openings. Later in the summer (admittedly during one of my grad school classes), I noticed that they posted about the position on LinkedIn which was when I applied. Instead of going directly through LinkedIn however, I researched to find the HR director’s email address and sent my credentials to her directly that way instead. I’m not sure if that is necessary, but I felt like it was a bit more direct and personal. 

There you have it, a little bit about what I do and how I came across the job! I know that this is the time of the year when so many college seniors are starting to feel stressed about job applications and whether or not they will have something lined up come graduation. I get it, and I was in your shoes not that long ago. I’m hoping to have some posts up in the next month about my job application and LinkedIn tips, so if you enjoyed this post hopefully you will get excited for those too! 


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