On Getting the Big Fashion Magazine Interview… But Not the Job


The New York Post has an essay by Cosmopolitan.com editor Amy Odell detailing her interview for a fashion writer position with Anna Wintour at Vogue. Amy details how nervous she was, what she wore to the interview and the questions she wishes she’d answered differently. Ultimately, she wasn’t offered the job. “If they had hired me, I would have done it well, I’m sure of that, but it would have been an enormous struggle, and I’d have gone on Valium just deciding what to wear every day.” It’s an excerpt from her new book, Tales from the Back Row, about working in fashion while feeling like an outsider.

I can certainly relate to the bungling of interview questions and feeling clueless when it comes to the fashion world. More job seekers might feel at ease if it were more common for people (other than anonymous Glassdoor reviewers) to write about their job interview fails. Of course, one can’t be too careful when blogging about work-related issues, which is probably why most people don’t. However, it is possible to share the ups and downs of interviewing without naming the company specifically or burning professional bridges. With that in mind, here is my own big fancy fashion magazine interview fail.

After I graduated from college, I reached out to some New York City-based alumni from my university for help as I searched for my first job. Since I like fashion and loved writing for my college newspaper, I decided to pursue a career in fashion magazines. As luck would have it, one of the alums from my school worked for a well-known fashion magazine and was kind enough to set me up with an interview for two entry-level openings. Aside from spending the previous summer working as an intern at a law firm (and deciding it wasn’t for me), I didn’t have much real-world work experience. So, naturally, one of the first questions I asked the alum when we met in the reception area was if working at the magazine was “like The Devil Wears Prada.” I can’t think about it without cringing, especially because even if her answer had been yes, it would not have kept me from taking the job.

I met with two different editors; one was on the fashion side and one was an editorial assistant. I gathered that they were trying to gauge if I would be better suited to work as a fashion editor or writer. The editorial assistant who interviewed me seemed exhausted. She was quitting to go to graduate school and interviewing potential replacements. She told me that the job involved long hours, grunt work, no opportunity for advancement and no time for a social life, but I didn’t care. I said that sounded great. I was 22 years old and unemployed; I couldn’t care less what kind of job demands I had to meet.

I don’t remember many details about my meeting with the fashion editor. She was impeccably well dressed, but she explained that when she started at the magazine, she didn’t know much about fashion: “I was like, ‘Narcisco who?'”

“RODRIGUEZ!” I all but shouted, nearly hurtling out of my seat like the next contestant on The Price is Right.

The next day, my interviewer informed me the magazine had decided to go with another candidate. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t have done the fashion or editorial assistant jobs well if I had gotten an offer. Thankfully, I accepted a job at a different company the same day, though I have often wondered where I might be today had my interview gone differently.

Now that several years have passed, I’ve realized that there is a danger in wanting a job too much, on placing so much importance on a single interview, even if you are perfectly qualified for the position. It’s unnerving, at least for me, to know how close I am to having a job I want, even with so many factors in play that are out of my control. I’ve been on many job interviews since the big fancy fashion magazine, and I’ve been nervous, and talked too much, or not enough, but I haven’t had an outburst of a designer’s last name since.

Three Surprising Things I Learned from The Book of Joan



The closest I came to meeting Joan Rivers was when she spoke at the Lucky Magazine FABB Conference in 2011. She was a lively, entertaining guest, and made sure to remind us several times to watch her new show, Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best. The conference was running a Q&A with Joan on Twitter, and I asked what I most wanted to know: How did Joan deal with her many critics? My question was selected.

“F–K EM!” she said matter-of-factly, with a fly-swatting wave of her hand.

After Joan’s passing, Melissa Rivers penned The Book of Joan, full of memories and anecdotes of her mother’s work ethic, quirks and family life. Here’s what surprised me most.

  1. She loved true-crime TV. Joan’s DVR included Wives with Knives, Scorned, Forensic Files, Lockup, Lockup Raw, and Law & Order. She and Melissa also bonded over reading true crime books. Joan’s favorite character in literature was Ted Bundy.
  2. She carried a giant purse full of stuff everywhere she went. There is a whole chapter on the purse, and it apparently always weighed between 18 and 25 pounds. Needless to say, Joan often had a hard time finding her cell phone.
  3. She rarely ever read what was written about her.  I suppose, in light of Joan’s attitude towards her critics, this revelation should not have been surprising. “Melissa, I don’t need to hear strangers say terrible things about me; that’s why I have family.” In the internet age, proliferated with armchair critics and an increasing pressure towards political correctness, a public figure who doesn’t respond to, or even read, her criticism is rare. (For more on this, check out “Joan Rivers and the Power of Not Apologizing” over at Esquire.)

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: THRIVE by Arianna Huffington


With the publication of Thrive and the creation of the Third Metric section of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington is spearheading an important cultural shift towards a more holistic definition of success. (Full disclosure: I have written for The Huffington Post). In Thrive, Huffington argues that success should be quantified by a “third metric” which includes well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving back. The book’s four sections are dedicated to these four pillars.

Thrive combines both personal anecdotes and heavy research.  Two important points Huffington makes that I think anyone in the workforce can appreciate are that over-working causes us to be less productive in the long term and the phenomenon of under-sleeping is a dangerous health risk rather than a badge of honor. It’s important to set boundaries for how much time we spend working and “plugged in” to technology in order to maintain health and happiness.

Most importantly, rather than encouraging us to quit our jobs, ditch our smartphones and move to a remote island, Thrive contains actionable advice for living mindfully, which is its greatest strength. A lengthy appendix with further reading and resources is also included.

If you’re interested in reading more books like Thrive, check out 10% Happier by Dan Harris and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

 [Note: I received a copy of Thrive from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.] 

One Year, One Essay

The essay I published on The Huffington Post last week, A Season of Darkness and Light, is the only piece of writing I published in 2014, with the exception of a piece I wrote in 2013 for gurl.com that was published in January.

My father’s suicide is an issue I have always wanted to touch on in my writing, but never quite knew how. While I’ve never met anyone who writes for the money, it was the prospect of winning the large cash prize in Glamour magazine’s essay contest that prompted me to start untangling 19 years of grief and shape it into something publishable. I submitted a 2,000 word disjointed mess in early 2014 and filed it away for a while.

In addition to being a paid contributor to a print magazine, another writing dream of mine is to write Young Adult fiction. It’s one of my favorite genres to read. This summer I decided to actually, finally try to write fiction in an NYU class called Getting Into the Writing Habit. During the class, we tried different prompts and exercises to come up with material. Despite my professor’s encouragement, I’m not positive that fiction is for me. I found it really difficult. There are so many decisions to make when creating a fictional world, and it seems daunting. I felt blocked by all of the clutter that was still in my mind from working on my essay and my feelings about my dad.

In the fall, I signed up for a course with a private writing professor whom I admire. She asked each student to bring in an essay, so I dusted off the Glamour contest essay, reworked it, and read it out loud. I started crying in the middle of the second page, so another student took over. Then she started crying as well. It was a mess, but I got useful feedback.

I rewrote the essay over and over and cried a bunch more along the way. I submitted it to The New York Times. After a week, during the Christmas party at work, they emailed me back, passing on it. I pitched a few more places and didn’t hear back, so at last I published the essay on The Huffington Post.

Getting paid would have been nice, but what I wanted most was to have the essay completed and published so other people who have lost someone could read it and know that it’s ok not to feel like sunshine and rainbows throughout the holiday season. So even though the essay is only around 800 words, I feel like I accomplished something big. I can finally file it away and move on.