Where Are They Now?: Grace Gavilanes

Grace Gavilanes

Hometown: Queens, NY

Major: Print Journalism and English Literature

Graduation Year: May 2013

Clubs/Involvement at Hofstra: Ed 2010, Her Campus, and She's the First 

Current Position: Associate Editor of People.com


Did you go into college with a media related major declared, if so how confident were you in that choice and if not, what made you change?

I had always wanted to work in the magazine industry. My dream since I was 12 years old was to work at Seventeen. I knew my end goal, but was unsure of which major to choose specifically. I was going back and forth between media studies and print journalism, and after meeting with Dean Oppenheim — who eased my nerves — before my first day, I made the decision to officially go in as a journalism major. 

What advantages, if any, do you feel you had by going to Hofstra?

There was so much room to grow, especially with Her Campus Hofstra. Kaitlin Cubria was the chapter president at the time and was looking for someone to fill her role once she graduated. I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to really establish this platform not only as an outlet for aspiring student-writers, but also as a successful online magazine. I loved that our writers were so passionate. Two of them even pitched their own advice columns, "Ask Jake" and "Help Me Holly," which we ended up running on a weekly basis. 

How did you establish your writers’ voice?

In the beginning of my career, I was very cautious and borderline-obsessive about my writing. It took me way longer to confidently file an article to my editor. Now, I just let the ideas flow, and worry about editing the copy once I'm done writing. 


How many internships did you have during college and what were your greatest lessons from those?

I completed nine internships, which I don't recommend. Don’t do it. You're allowed to have fun, especially in college. I think my greatest lesson as an intern is to feel confident enough to pitch article ideas. Editors appreciate the extra content and most of us are open to pitches from interns. It shows that they're excited about getting the most out of their experience there. 

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self regarding your major?

I would tell my 18-year-old self to stop freaking out about the future internship and job search. You don't need those nine internships.

What was your first job out of college?

I was an editorial assistant at InStyle.com, where I helped manage social and content partnerships. 

How would you describe your aesthetic?

Laid-back with a side of anxiety. I'm serious about work but during high-pressure moments, I remind myself that the majority of what we're doing at People.com is fun. We're not curing cancer here.

Can you sum up your career right now in 3 hashtags?

#Fun #Growth #Blessed

What has been one of your most memorable moments thus far in your career?

When I got promoted to associated editor at People.com. I’ve wanted to be an editor since I was 12 years old, so it was a huge moment for me.

What role does social media have in your personal and professional life?

Professionally, we have an audience team we work with on Slack. They take care of scheduling and publishing our content at the most optimal time. Personally, I’m trying to post more on Instagram just as a way to start documenting my life more. 

What makes a cover letter or resume stand out to you?

A personalized cover letter always stands out to me. Don’t start off with "To whom it may concern" and instead research the hiring manager. Writing in the voice of the brand you're applying to is also a nice touch. You can tell who is dying to work for your company and who is applying to every internship they come across. For example, if you're applying to Seventeen, you'll probably use a few more exclamation marks than usual.

How important do you think bad experiences are to your professional life?

Super important! I've learned from every mistake I've made and have become a better writer and editor because of it.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in editorial work?

Be open to reaching out to people in the industry and writers you admire. It's flattering and not enough people do it, surprisingly enough. Also, know that breaking into the industry is hard. Do it because you love it.

For your future goals, what’s next?

My goal in life is to get a cover story. I don't know when that will happen, but I'm sure it will.