The other day my Twitter feed was filled with someones complaints about how hard they work and how, if other people would live up to their standards, they’d be equally successful. It was pretty gross, but more than that, totally naïve! Apparently this lady was not aware of the millions of other people in the world who are constantly kicking their own butts and leaving many, many names in their wake.
I know tons of people who work hard—and plenty who work harder than me, even at my hardest. More than some honorable staunch work ethic, I have a lot of discipline and am very driven by certain passions that happen to line up with my career goals. It’s definitely not always fun and games, which I think I’ve been pretty vocal about. Job hunting can be such a depressing slog at times, and I was beginning to feel like I would never end up in a place that I truly wanted to be in. I found myself trying to reframe my personal narrative with every week that passed, as if I could just convince myself that I was now the type of person who didn’t like fashion or writing and would be better off on a farm in Vermont (shout out to Dru).
And then the universe decided to throw me a big, shiny bone! I got THE job I really wanted: the first New York Editor of game-changing fashion platform Who What Wear. It was the first job in a very long time whose initial application and eventual edit test was actually thrilling for me to work on—one that didn’t require self-induced delusions about why I was doing it. I obsessed over every word, every link, every photograph. I really liked the end result. It felt true to me but also true to the company I was applying to. The process just felt different—and I’m not just saying this in glorified hindsight, I told my family this way before I knew what the results would be.
This might be a brag, by definition, but that’s not my goal here. I am trying to give a little hope to anyone else who has spent years trying to end up in what they believe to be their “right spot.” I went through countless other interviews and gigs that either never came to be or were the wrong fit when they did. It really bummed me out at times, but I stayed blindly hopeful.
And, hey, because I’m a realist and I haven’t even started yet, I know that this job could be nothing I imagined it to be—though I am very inclined to believe otherwise because the culture of the company has already proven itself above and beyond what I’ve experienced thus far. I’m also aware that I’m a zygote, and that this is still the very beginning of that scary period known as “the rest of my life.”
Some people have asked me for advice before and recently, especially slightly younger pals who want to work in similar industries. Despite the fact that in the scheme of life I know ZILCH, here are a few random tidbits, based off this experience and others:
Know about the company you’re applying to. – This might seem super obvious but you really need to gloss more than the surface if you want the job. This was really easy for me in terms of Who What Wear because I have read them every morning since the day they launched. However, I still made sure to study the things I wouldn’t normally focus on as a casual reader, such as what they called all their different sections, which employees were writing for each vertical and if there was overlap, and the brands they shared most. I once went to an interview at a major luxury brand for a PR position that I didn’t truly want, and when they asked me “Why this company?” I had zero clue what to say. I know a lot about fashion, but this brand had never been a favorite of mine and since I didn’t truly want it, I had under-prepared. So, yes, I bombed it.
Don’t let your pride get in the way. – My first Skype interview for Who What Wear was almost great, until I started thinking too much about my nerves and answered a few questions in a way that I knew was probably not ideal. To be fair, I had just sat shiva for my dad for a week and was at my wit’s end, but I totally angsted over it afterwards. So, I contemplated sending my interviewer a follow up note—but I was embarrassed! And what if sending a note just drew negative attention to my answers? I finally bit the bullet and, with humor, explained having interview nerves that led to a poor answer or two, then followed that up with much better answers. They were totally understanding, reminding me that it happens to everyone, and it probably just showed how much I cared about getting the job.
Stay connected to the people you meet in your industry, and have a mentor or five. – There is no way in hell I would have gotten this job without the support of my friends in the industry, most of whom I’ve worked for in some capacity. But these are busy people and our eventual friendships required me to be a bit of a nag at first, always making the effort to stay in touch. Eventually these relationships really solidified, but at first it was like chasing after numerous crushes who didn’t pine for you the way you pined for them. Now I have a few ladies I consider mentors, who I am comfortable e-mailing at any hour of the day for crucial advice.
In the same vein, never leave on bad terms with a boss. – My last gig ended up not being what I thought it would be and I ended up not being what my last boss needed, but we were so honest and respectful of each other that, when I decided to leave, it was totally amicable and we’re still friends. I was frustrated at the time, but with LIFE not with her, and I made sure not to let that seep into our relationship.
Remember that you’re judging the company, too. – Remember that luxury brand interview I mentioned above? Well, the three interviewers stared at their phones the entire time and never once made eye contact with me. I felt like I was in the worst version of high school all over again. It was totally disrespectful, and I even had a connection to the brand through a friend. Because of that, I walked away not only knowing I bombed it, but that I would truly hate working there. Conversely, my experiences interviewing for places like EyeSwoon and Who What Wear were filled with genuinely good vibes and I left feeling heard and respected, no matter what the results would be.
There’s a time and a place for delusions of grandeur. – People who want to work in fashion, especially, tend to have delusions of grandeur before starting out. Get rid of them fast, because it’s not glamorous and it won’t live up to your dreams (thank god, because I wouldn’t want that). However, sometimes having delusions about who will be willing to talk or work with you is a very good thing. You know my 20 Sense series? Those have all come about from cold e-mails, because instead of thinking, “There’s no way Carolyn Murphy will want to talk to me,” I think, “I’m going to reach out to Carolyn Murphy like it’s totally #casual.” Guess what? It almost always pays off.
Don’t let self-doubt get the best of you. – I am the queen of self-doubt. When I was told a few weeks post-interviews that Who What Wear wanted to call me for a quick chat, I immediately assumed the worst. Instead, I got the job. I often doubt myself, but I’ve learned to rein it in when it’s really necessary. For example, before I had met one of my favorite editors in person and had only written for her, she invited me to come to a cocktail party. I was really nervous to go alone and introduce myself to her, briefly allowing my fear of judgment get in the way. But I got over it, went and it was more than fine. She called me the next day to see if I could work for her full-time!
Never have all your eggs in one basket. – Even though this job was the one I really wanted, and my final interview seemed to go really well, I have learned over time to never expect ANYTHING. I’ve had seemingly-great interview experiences that end without actual employment, so I continued searching. It’s much harder to get back on the hunt after your ego’s been slightly deflated than it is to just always be searching no matter what. I had an interview a few hours before I got this job, and even if it wasn’t the same, I was still so glad I’d done it—I ended up with a new industry friend who has already sent congratulations.
Hopefully something in there will click for you, or at least be a nice reminder that there are so many doubts and mistakes involved in the job searching process. I know that reading things like this has always kept me going, so I’m returning the favor to anyone who might need it.
As for Twenties Collective, I’m afraid you’ll be hearing a lot less from me after this weekend, for the time being at least. I am really excited to devote myself full time to a larger company that I believe in, and that will require my full, blog-less attention. Like they say in sad romantic movies–and since you guys ARE my boyfriend–this is not a goodbye, but, rather, a see you later…