Finding a Job/Finding Yourself

by Gillian Russo, FCLC ‘21

To borrow an extremely over-quoted line from Hamilton, “There’s nothing like summer in the city,” but I no longer have to take the musical’s word for it. I lived and worked here full-time for the first time this past summer, having landed an internship at Mood of Living magazine. The publication is an online platform focused on stories of sustainable companies in the food, travel, fashion, and lifestyle industries. The job of editorial interns such as myself is to write these feature stories, copy-edit others’ work, attend industry events, and do organizational tasks — we are interns after all.

I was interested in the internship as a means of building my portfolio and gaining writing experience on a topic that interests me. I’m particularly passionate about theatre journalism (if my journalism major and theatre minor are any indication), but I also thought I’d be happy with a job anywhere within the soft-news “lifestyle” sector, as opposed to politics or economics.

Now, I had a fruitful internship experience at MoL. I built a great network, which is all I could have asked of my first position in the city where I want to settle once I graduate. I learned a lot from working there: in addition to honing my editorial skills, I dabbled in social media management, marketing/business, and web development. I can now take all these skills, which I would not have gained from a strictly editorial internship, to future jobs. But one thing I learned stuck out to me above all: “lifestyle,” in the broadest sense, isn’t my thing.

Attending industry events and talking to professionals in all these different fields was enjoyable. In fact, going to trade shows and fashion expositions was one of my favorite parts of the job. But when I sat back down in the office to follow up with these home-furnishing and fashion and travel brands to potentially write about them, well… I realized I wasn’t as passionate about it as I thought. I went into this summer believing I’d be happy in any at-least-somewhat editorial job even if it had nothing to do with the arts, as long as it incorporated other cultural, lifestyle sectors like fashion, home, or travel. Now I’ve found it’s the other way around — I’d be open to different opportunities in the arts sector, even if they’re not strictly journalistic. I never thought I would be interested in development or social media or marketing before entering MoL. While none of those became my top interest, I found myself enjoying that work this summer, but I knew I’d enjoy it more if it pertained to a field I had more interest in.

In the summer course I took in conjunction with this job, my professor talked often about “doing what you are”: that is, figuring out your strengths, passions, and personality style, and taking them into account when searching for a position. I figured out a lot about who I am between the job, the class, and my other summer activities — one of which was continuing my ongoing gig as a show reviewer. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. I don’t want to neglect opportunities that may present themselves. But I now have a better grasp of where I’d like to see myself going forward.

Sometimes you have to do what you aren’t to figure out what you are. I can’t say I fully know who I’m going to be yet. All I can say is that my vision got clearer thanks to my time at MoL, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. Who knows — maybe I’ll have to write about Broadway-inspired home decor someday, and I’ll be prepared.