Starting Your Career In The Magazine Industry: Part 1

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Working with magazines sounds glorious.

If you don’t understand why, rent The Devil Wears Prada or 13 Going on 30 before you proceed.

Movies may highlight the thrill of success over the struggle to succeed, so let us shed some light: getting a job in the magazine industry is a difficult, long journey divided between school and unpaid internships, but it can lead somewhere very rewarding.

“When I left university, I felt like I wasn’t qualified for a specific job. When I was looking for jobs, the posting would say a degree and a couple of years’ experience so my six-month internship wasn’t enough.”
Teresa Morgado, recent graduate, Centennial College’s book and magazine publishing program

Magazine hopeful finds internship is not enough

An increasing number of job postings in the publishing sector identify the ideal candidate as someone who has studied a publishing program. This includes magazine certificates, which can be partnered up with a previously acquired bachelor’s degree.

Teresa Morgado, a recent graduate of Centennial College’s book and magazine publishing program, graduated from the University of Toronto, where she studied English before landing a three-month internship with Weddingbells magazine.

She enjoyed the work so much that, at her request, her amiable co-workers agreed to extend her internship for another three months so that she could gain more experience with the magazine. In November 2008, she was faced with the arduous task of finding a job.

“When I left university, I felt like I wasn’t qualified for a specific job. When I was looking for jobs, the posting would say a degree and a couple of years’ experience so my six-month internship wasn’t enough,” Morgado says.

A few months later, she was accepted into the program at Centennial College for September 2009, where she spent one academic year studying the production, editorial, design, sales and marketing of magazines and books. As part of her education, she completed an internship in the web department of Quarto Communications, where she worked mainly on Cottage Life magazine.

Morgado has just completed an internship with Family Communications and says the Book and Magazine Publishing program was being extremely helpful. “Now I have a specific skill set that is specific to the industry I want to be in,” she proclaims happily.

The reality of the magazine industry, however, is such that despite her magazine certificate and year of internship experiences, Morgado is still looking for a job.

Ontario journalism admissions down

Magazine hopefuls are not alone in their uncertainty over magazine job prospects. This year, Ontario undergraduate journalism programs have experienced a decline in application numbers, according to statistics released by the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) in Guelph, and admissions statistics from the four OUAC journalism schools (Carleton, Ryerson, Toronto-Centennial and the University of Ottawa and Algonquin/Cite Collegiale).

Carleton’s applications have risen in number yet admissions recognize that they, too, experience signs of this trend. Centennial College, likewise, has seen a 13% decrease in its fast-track journalism program.

More specific journalism programs, on the other hand, are experiencing an increase in applications. Ryerson’s Chang School’s magazine and web publishing certificate has experienced a 55% increase in new certificate registrations in the 2009/2010 academic year over 2008/2009. While Centennial College experienced a 3% decrease in enrolment for its book and magazine publishing program, its sports journalism program has seen a 7% increase since last year.

Perhaps journalism hopefuls or their parents are avoiding the uncertain job prospects and enrolling in programs with more hands-on experience, or perhaps this trend reflects young graduates’ plans of taking a different path to secure a job in their desired area of journalism.

Whatever the cause, remain optimistic, because there are plenty of options before you and as long as you work hard and stay focused, you’ll get where you want to go.

Click here to read Part 2 of Starting Your Career In The Magazine Industry

Photo credit: Magazines by beverlyislike on Flickr
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About the author

Marisa Baratta loves writing, especially about topics pertaining to environmental change, animal issues, human rights and health. She loves helping others and wants to make a positive difference in the world. She is always working on publishing her books, which seek to inspire and incite laughter. She has been published in the National Post, t.o. night newspaper and on several online magazines. She completed a BA with a specialization in English and a bilingual certificate before studying Book and Magazine Publishing at Centennial College. She lives with her family and two cats (can you spot one of them in the picture?).