In 1981, recent college graduate and aspiring magazinist Julie Campbell turned down an $11,000 a year secretarial job at Condé Nast and found herself instead at a Colorado real estate firm.
“Sometimes I think about what would have happened,” Campbell, now the editor of W&L’s alumni magazine said.
But the route she chose has ultimately exposed her to nearly every type of magazine in the industry. Company newsletters, consumer magazines, trade magazines, historical journals, and specialized, no-ad magazines! Oh my!
Clearly, Campbell has packed a great number of skills under her belt during the past three decades. She’s worked up through the hierarchy from administrative assistant to editor. Along the way, she’s adapted to her constantly changing audiences. She’s dealt with advertisers. She’s dipped her toes in design. She’s experimented with digitalization of the medium.
One of the most precious tidbits Campbell offered us in her reflection applies not only to mass communications, but also to all careers—capitalize your time and effort at any and every internship and job opportunity.
“You never know what you might learn, what skills you might learn, what connection you might make,” Campbell said.
Campbell, who chiefly admires history and literary writing, did not necessarily look on to Plastics Machinery and Equipment with the same enchantment as the Virginia Cavalcade or the Journal of Arizona History. However, she found that it presented the potential for priceless experience and connections.
Even if chasing your dream of interviewing All-Star athletes has so far only landed you a job as fact-checker for National Hog Farmer Magazine, go with it and proudly play your part for the swine squad.
Go into work every day grateful and motivated to shape your skills, Campbell said. Be polite and friendly. Be an “indispensible person” on the team. Not only will you master tackling tasks and maneuvering the office, you’ll form a priceless network that might help you make it to the Major League someday.
And Campbell spent years working at different publications before she fell into her first dream job—yes, first!
Right now, we might be shortsighted students who eye the dazzling gold trophy that is our single-most coveted, nothing-can-top-this career. But later on, we’ll most likely fall in and out of love with different areas in the industry.
But the motivation, experimentation, adaptation, and life-long learning that teems in Campbell’s story suggests that help these are the keys to a successful journalistic dossier.
I know this is internship and job-orientated advice (finding an internship has definitely been on my mind!). But Campbell mentioned a lot of other tips and anecdotes about her time in the industry that will be of use to us during this class, most of which I transcribed but don’t have room to summarize here. I can always dig that up so we can look back at her words for inspiration when forming our own magazine.
— Hendley Badcock