Name: Chandra Turner
Job Title and Description: Founder/President of Ed2010 and Executive Editor of Parents
College/Major: Journalism and sociology double major at Indiana University -Bloomington
Twitter Handle: @Ed2010News
Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Chandra Turner: My job entails so much that I can’t possibly include it all and no day is typical. The only thing that is consistent is the copy. I edit and manage all the editors at Parents so I read a lot of copy — proposals, drafts, and proofs. The fun part isn’t reading as much as it is shaping what goes in the magazine. When I’m not reading copy I’m usually either in some sort of meeting (art, design, tablet, corporate, PR, you name it) or putting out fires — some editor is in some kind of pickle with their story and I have to help him or her get out of it with as little damage as possible. My favorite thing is planning the issues. Looking at a blank lineup and filling it out with a bunch of stories that all work together to make a complete package of service, entertainment, gravitas, and humor.
HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
CT: My first “real” job was at Good Housekeeping where I was an editorial assistant working for two different editors. When I applied for the job, I was just finishing up an internship with the ASME program while completing my journalism degree via correspondence. I told the ASME director at the time that I wasn’t actually returning in the fall to go back to school as I had originally told her (ASME’s internship program only open to juniors). I thought she’d freak — instead, at the next magazine luncheon, she introduced me to the EIC of Good Housekeepingat the time, Ellen Levine. Ellen passed me along to her managing editor. They were looking for an EA. It was all just really great timing.
HC: What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
CT: When I first started out everyone told me that the magazine industry was all about whom you know and they were right. But what I didn’t realize was that it was very easy to “know” people. I quickly made friends with other interns and assistants and that grew into what Ed2010 is today. It took me a while to figure it out, but the important people to have the “in” with weren’t the upper-level editors. They were my peers. Those were the people in the same boat as me, struggling to find roommates, get their first jobs, and get promoted. They offered the best advice and the most help than anyone. Still, today, the people I rely on are those same friends I met when I first moved to NYC 16 years ago. Now they are all high-level writers and editors at magazines throughout the city.
HC: Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
CT: It’s really hard to say one person. Throughout my career I’ve been lucky to have a lot of fabulous mentors. My first boss at Good Housekeeping, Ellen Seidman, went on to recommend me for jobs at Glamour, YM,and I suspect she’s put in good words for me over the years at other places I’ve ended up. Diane Salvatorewas my EIC at two magazines and really gave me my first big break. I was 25 and she promoted me to head of the articles department at YM. Looking back, I can’t believe that I was a manager at 25! It was an amazing learning experience. Diane also taught me the fundamentals of assigning. She was a “writer’s editor” and all her writers respected her and her edits because she championed and nurtured them. I wanted to be that kind of editor. And I hope that I was, up until I took on a bigger management role where I didn’t assign anymore.
HC: What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
CT: I do remember Diane saying once, “Always run your best stuff first.” Meaning that you shouldn’t hold a great story for an OK one just because it’s easier, available, or works better for some reason. It’s kind of like saying, “Edit every issue like it’s your last.” That said, the phrase I find myself repeating to staffers a lot over the years is, “It will get done… because it has to.” Working in a deadline-driven environment makes people a little crazy. Instead of actually doing the work that needs to get done, sometimes the natural thing to do is freak out about it. So far I haven’t worked at a magazine where the next issue didn’t come out. So my motto is, “It will get done. It will because it has to.”
HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
CT: I was a freelance writer for a year and I hated it. I found out that I’m not a writer but an editor. And I like to be around people, in an office. That’s where I belong and I know that now!
HC: What is the best part of your job?
CT: I love that I get to work on the tablet edition of Parents. It’s all the things that you’ve always wished you could convey in print and so much more. Video! Games! Animation! It’s just awesome. We’ve been “publishing” a tablet edition for over a year now and it’s just amazing what this new technology can do. I think it’ll take a while for readers to fully convert to tablet, but it’s really cool to be a part of it in the beginning.
HC: What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
CT: Enthusiasm. I want to be able to feel that you want this job like no other job in the world. If you can convey that — in an interview and on an edit test — the job is yours.
HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
CT: Get a varied background. Get experience writing for print, writing for web, editing for both, and even a little design if you can. But choose a content type that you are focused on — whether it’s health, entertainment, or technology. Be an expert, or just a lover, of one area, focus there, and be able to write or edit on that subject in any medium. That way you are tightly focused but also flexible.