Let’s Talk Careers is a series where I interview people on their career journey and ask them for tips and tricks that can help YOU land your dream job. In this week’s edition, Lifestyle and E-Commerce Editor at Yahoo Canada, Kate Mendonca, shares how freelance writing led to her role as an editor.
Although Mendonca didn’t study journalism in school she followed her passion of wanting a role in the media industry. After graduating from the University of Toronto in Environmental Science and French in 2013, she realized her interests lie elsewhere. She wanted to write about fashion so she returned to school and studied Fashion Management where she had the opportunity to write for Humber College’s fashion blog. She used the work she did for the school’s fashion blog as a way of building her portfolio. Her writing for the school’s blog led her to an internship at Fashion Canada where she continued to grow her writing portfolio. Before she landed her job at Yahoo Canada she was writing for publications like FASHION, Style Canada, Style Nine to Five, and more. Mendonca graciously took the time to share what it takes to land a role as an editor of a publication.
What’s something people should know about when pursuing an editorial internship?
KM: I consider internships as a way to gain skills and experience, as in my case most of the time they don’t lead to full-time employment (so don’t count on that happening).
Show up ready to take on any tasks, ask for clarification when needed, and be willing to take initiative instead of waiting to be told what to do – I’d consider this pretty sound advice for any workplace, not just internships!
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a freelance writer?
KM: Freelancing was an interesting experience, but it’s certainly not for everyone. In order to succeed at it, you need to be fairly persistent and motivated, while also being ok with rejection and inconsistent work schedules. On the financial side, it can also be challenging not knowing when exactly your next paycheck will arrive, so there is also a certain lack of stability involved.
That said, it’s also a great way to be creative and it works well if you’re someone who thrives in a flexible environment and is good at creating your own schedule. Sticking to your own deadlines can be a tricky thing, but it’s essential as a freelancer.
Can you share tips on how to pitch article ideas to a magazine?
KM: If there’s a topic that you’re interested in writing about, making sure that your pitch is clear and specific goes a really long way. For example, rather than telling me that you’d love to put together a gift guide for Mother’s Day, including the types of products that you would write about and a unique perspective that makes them worth purchasing.
When it comes to interviewing subjects, also include the types of questions that you will be answering, whether or not there is a timeline to stick to (ex. an upcoming event/movie/product launch that the interview is tied to) and what’s the overall angle.
What advice would you give to those that desire to work at a magazine?
KM: The first and most important piece of advice that I would give to anyone who wants to work in media (whether that’s in print or digital) is to start by working on a portfolio of your own work. I highly recommend creating a website that showcases the work that you’re most proud of as well as links to your contact information. It could be from school projects, volunteer work, internships, or your own personal projects – just be sure that the content is relevant to the field that you’re interested in working in.
If you’re thinking of becoming a freelance writer check out the tips Founder of Women Who Freelance Lana Karapetyan shares on freelancing.
Feature image by: @sabmoldenhauer