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Journalism students visit with alumni in NYC magazine industry

Emily Carlson '11 JOURN
3/8/2011  4:30 pm

A group of 15 College of Media students took a whirlwind trip to New York City to meet with Illinois alumni currently working in the magazine industry.

Lynn Holley, academic programs coordinator for the Department of Journalism, led the students on the three-day trip to meet with editors and reporters at three print magazines, five online news sites, one broadcast network, and one start-up dating site. While everyone had a lot of insight and advice on how to pursue a magazine career, there was one thing that kept coming up about the career they were chasing: It was going to be hard.

“If you don't get a job, it's your fault,” said Eric Gillin, web director at Esquire. He hammered into the students that people are lazy, and all you have to do to make it in the industry is to work hard because other people won't.

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The trip began Wednesday as Media students trickled into New York City and made their way to the Marriot Marquis in Times Square. Their first meeting was that evening with Rick Kaplan, friend of the College of Media and executive producer of The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

Kaplan gave the students a bright look at an industry that is often seen as failing.

“Despite the fact that newspapers might be going under and the platforms that people get their news are evolving, the demand for content has always and will always be there,” said Kaplan. “If you are a purveyor of content, and a good one, there will always be a demand for you.”

The next day was busy as students had the opportunity to meet with editors at Bloomberg Businessweek, Esquire, Fast Company, Yahoo!, and New York Magazine. Editors and alumni spoke to students about how they got to their established positions at the media outlets. Each gave unique advice about things to do and not do to get from where students are now to their industry dream jobs.

“Think of what you want to do and work backwards from that,” said Erin Scottberg from HowAboutWe.com.

Following the meetings, the students headed for Lombardi's Pizza for some real New York grub and the chance to talk one-on-one with the alumni.

“I think dinner was one of the best parts because it was a chance to talk to people away from the office and the restriction of being professional,” said Alissa Groeninger ’11 JOURN.

Later that evening at Slainte, students and editors had the chance to socialize and kick back and talk about things beyond careers, like life in the big city.

“The best part was being able to relate to them as a person and not have it be so formal,” said Kristy Shaulis ’11 JOURN. “There wasn't that pressure of 'Wow, this is someone I need to a impress,' and it was much more casual where we could talk about life in New York, finding an apartment, dating, and advice as far as getting up the courage to move out there and do something with your career.”

Friday started early, as the students left for AOL, where they had the chance to meet with a variety of players in AOL news and sister sites. AOL was unique in that students had the chance to meet people in a variety of positions in the company, ranging from editorial to Web and sports.

AOL was followed by iVillage, Gawker Media, and HowAboutWe.

“It was great to meet people who are successful and doing what you want to be doing,” Groeninger said. “My favorite part was just hearing some of the alums who are really positive about they were doing. It was clear they like their jobs and love the media world and it was refreshing to hear.”

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