How She Got There: Susan Kaufman, Editor at ‘People StyleWatch’

Name: Susan Kaufman
Job Title and Description: Editor, People StyleWatch
College/Major: Washington University/Art History
Twitter Handle: @SusanStyleWatch 
Instagram Handle: @skaufman4050

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Susan Kaufman: As the editor of the magazine, there is really no such thing as a typical day, but every week includes many things: meetings with the senior staff over story ideas and line-ups, meetings with the business side over strategy, market appointments with fashion designers and publicists, approving layouts, copy and photos and reviewing all of the fashion and beauty merch that appear on our pages, working with our digital team and going out to events and dinners in the evening. (And answering a million emails!)

What is the best part of your job?

SK: There are so many great parts of my job that I don’t even know where to begin! One of the things I love most is working with my team and seeing our ideas come to life on the pages of the magazine every month. When the final product appears on my desk, I still get a major thrill.
 
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

SK: My first job in this business was as a fashion assistant to three associate editors at Mademoiselle magazine. It was a magazine I grew up reading and loving, and it was like a dream come true for me that I actually got a job there! I heard about the opening through a friend of a friend and went on about five interviews over the course of two months. Waiting to hear if I got the job was one the most stressful experiences of my life!

The job itself was like a total immersion into the crazy world of fashion magazines. I didn’t know what hit me. It was very much like a version of Devil Wears Prada, but I learned so much. I assisted the model booker and two accessories editors. They were also responsible for styling many of the fashion stories. As a result, I did everything: photo shoot production, model booking, assisting on shoots and calling in and returning accessories.

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?

SK: I’ve been fortunate to work with many amazing, smart and talented people in this industry who’ve all impacted me in many different ways. I worked for many years under the legendary Glamour Editor-in-Chief Ruth Whitney, who was laser-focused on the reader.
 
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

SK: Work hard. Do your best no matter how menial the task and have a positive attitude while doing it. Ask to take on more responsibility; you don’t automatically get promoted just for showing up and doing the job you were hired to do. Believe me—a great work ethic and attitude will always get noticed! Be humble and embrace change.  Be curious and never stop learning.  Find a mentor who can help you navigate your career.

Our industry is constantly evolving and you have to be able to roll with the punches and get on board with new ideas, new management or new technology. As the saying goes, “Change is the only constant in life.” Be passionate and engaged, and most of all, have fun!

Fill out my online form.