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Su Sachdeva: From Little Athens to the Big Apple

Full name: Susannah Sachdeva
Hometown: Chagrin Falls, OH
Graduated: June 2010
Major: Magazine Journalism

What inspired you to move to New York City after graduation?
I was actually pretty frightened about the idea of moving to New York after graduation. I was intimidated by the grandeur of this city, that’s for sure. But I quickly realized that if I was going to work for a major national magazine (as I had been hoping to do), I had little choice but to move to New York. But now, six months in, I can’t even begin to imagine being anywhere else. I love it here and am so happy that I started off my career in this fabulous city.

How was the interview process? How had your experiences at Ohio U prepare you for the “real world?”
The interview process wasn’t half bad. I don’t tend to get nervous for interviews so that definitely helped. I interviewed at four different places – three of which were national magazines. It was a great experience to get feedback from them about how beneficial what I’ve learned thus far in life is to this career. I actually owe my success at those interviews to both my education and extracurriculars at OU as well as to my two-month internship at NYLON Magazine. It was a chain reaction, I suppose. I worked for Backdrop Magazine all four years of college and ended up as publisher of the magazine my senior year. That experience absolutely helped me get my internship at NYLON. The woman who hired me was so impressed with all that I had done in college that she gave me the position without a formal interview process. And then from my time spent and knowledge gained at NYLON, I was able to impress the people at Seventeen enough to get my current position as Advertising Sales Assistant. Seventeen was my last interview and I already had two offers on the table from two of the other magazines I had interviewed with. So when I came in here, I interviewed with everyone and their mother because they knew they had to offer me the position right away if they liked me. It was so exciting — I even interviewed with Jayne, our publisher! And because of the time crunch to respond to my offers, Seventeen took a very un-traditional route and offered me the position right after meeting and interviewing me. (The traditional route is to wait for a thank you email from me, ask me to come in again, interview some more, etc.) The whole experience was incredibly gratifying albeit somewhat stressful. Obviously worth it, though :)

My knowledge gained from my magazine classes at Scripps was good preparation for the real world. I especially learned a lot from professors Brady and Tatge, both were mentors for me while at OU. And my time spent working at Backdrop gave me the valuable experience needed to give me the edge over other applicants for internships and permanent positions here in New York.

How has Ohio University/Scripps helped you to get where you are today?
More than anything, Scripps gave me the confidence to go out into the world and throw myself into this career without any regrets. Just being told how smart and valuable you are does wonders for a student’s confidence. It was hard to get into Scripps so once I did, I felt really good about my achievement. And then during my time at the school, the teachers, staff and professors treated us with respect as educated adults, never treating us as the stupid and immature young adults we most definitely were. Having that kind of confidence instilled in me during college in Athens, Ohio made it easy to keep that confidence and use it to my benefit when applying for real world jobs in New York City.

Who has influenced you in your career choices?
I knew from a pretty young age that I wanted to go into magazines as a career. I started off thinking I wanted to be involved in editorial but soon made the switch to publishing my freshman year at OU when I realized that’s where my skills really lie. I learned that by helping out with advertising at Backdrop my freshman year and then taking over as advertising chief my sophomore year. But I’d have to say that my dad has definitely had some influence on my career choices. Growing up seeing how successful he has become, it has made me want the same kind of success for myself. He loves the work he does and is lucky enough to be doing the kind of work that pays for his family’s lifestyle. I absolutely aspire to have the same kind of success in both my career and personal life as he has.

If you could give any advice to undergraduate females who want to move to the Big Apple and get started, what would you tell them?
It’s quite tricky to just pick up, move out here, and find a career just like that. It definitely takes time, planning and perseverance. The first step though is obviously moving to New York. It really is nearly impossible to land a job in this city without living here first. A friend I know who was living here before I came told me to use her address on my resume because it will be thrown out if it doesn’t have a New York address on it. Lots of employers don’t waste their time on “out-of-staters.” But even if you use a friend’s address on your resume, you’ll have to move here soon after. Housing can be tricky but there are many month-by-month or even week-by-week rentals out there. You just have to find them. I suggest The Webster for women starting out. It’s a nice place that is very conveniently located and safe — it’s all women housing. And once you do move here, apply, apply, apply. Start looking at sites like mediabistro.com, monster.com, all of those job sites. I learned that it was silly to apply to journalism jobs before I moved here because these positions needed to be filled right away and couldn’t wait months or even weeks for me to move to New York. So once you’ve achieved step 1 (move here) and step 2 (applying to jobs), you’re bound to find something soon enough. Just be open to all opportunities, even ones that don’t totally suit you, they may open up a door to something that fits you perfectly. Don’t be picky. Some of my friends here got jobs with start up publications and now have a lot of seniority even though they’ve only been there six months or less! The benefit of living in New York City is that there are endless possibilities for jobs. Everything is an option.

What are your plans now?
My plans now are to enjoy living in this city. I love my job so far and am trying to take advantage of living in one of the greatest cities in the world. I have two blogs that I’ve been keeping on my spare time. One is about my doings and goings in the city and the other is my style/daily outfit blog. Both have been a fun, creative outlet for me and I plan to keep them going for a long while. As far as career plans go, I hope to continue moving up the ladder. I’d like to be a publisher’s assistant next, which is a step up from sales assistant, my current gig. It’s not uncommon to move around from magazine to magazine at this point in my career so I may not stay at Seventeen for years to come. But I’m making the most out of my time here now and loving working in the gorgeous office that is Hearst Tower.
To read more about Su and her experiences in the Big Apple, check out her two blogs: http://lavieetme.blogspot.com/and http://outfitspourlavie.tumblr.com/.

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