Lessons Learned from Seventeen Magazine's Editor-In-Chief: Ann Shoket

I was lucky enough to have been able to attend Rent the Runway Capstone Weekend. This was an event held in New York City for college women who “dare to dream big.” On Friday night, everyone in attendance went to an event in Soho at the L’Oreal Professional Soho Academy. Here we snacked on sweet treats, got our hair and makeup done, and got to mingle with other attendees. This was a great way to meet and network with other college aged woman from all over the country that had a common interest. On Saturday, the weekend’s main event was to hear from industry leaders and to participate in workshops.

(Me, in the orange blazer, with friends at RTR Capstone Weekend)

We were lucky enough to hear from one of RTR’s founders Jenn Hyman, LuLu Frost's founder Lisa Salzer, and Vice President of Media, Digital, Content and Consumer Promotions at L'Oreal Paris, Kristen Commings, just to name a few. My favorite speaker though was someone I have idolized since I was a preteen: Ann Shoket. Ann Shoket is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Seventeen magazine.

Magazines have been in my life since I can remember. It all started off with Highlights in elementary school. When I grew out of cartoons I turned to American Girl and Discovery Girls.  Once I was too old for magazines about dolls and prepubescent stories, my mom bought me my first Seventeen. Looking back, maybe I was actually a little young for the mag at the time because my mom ripped out a section on kissing and STDs before she let me actually look at it. When I finally got my hands on it, it finally made me feel like the teenager that I was becoming.

The articles seemed more mature and answered questions I was too afraid to ask myself. When I was younger I favored the pieces on embarrassing moments, but as I grew older I started taking more time to read the editorial pieces and Ann Shoket’s personal message in the Letter from the Editor. She constantly gives out such great advice and is sure to always empower women. Besides the magazine itself, Ann Shoket has truly turned the Seventeen name into a brand. From a Seventeen line at JCPenny, to Seventeen having a huge online presence, Ann has moved both the brand and magazine forward.

At the event she gave many great pieces of advice, including some pieces that I really needed to hear. She first mentioned “You’re life is pure potential. You have to keep reminding yourself that you’re right, and you’re the shit.” For me, this was so nice to hear. Within our growing careers as young women, we may be shot down a few times, whether it is from a professor, a coworker, boss, or even a friend. We have to know that we are capable of anything. My dream is to be in the industry of fashion merchandising. Since the career can sometimes be cutthroat and difficult, I sometimes doubt if I will ever make it. Hearing Ann make me realize I can do it. Also, worst case scenario I am really bad at it or hate it, I am young and there are still so many opportunities out there. 

Ann also talked about careers. She mentioned how getting a job isn’t like it used to be. In older generations, you would get a job and stick with it. You would slowly but surly move your way up the ranks within the company. Nowadays things are different. You may know what you what you want to do for a career, but it isn’t always simple or easy to get there. You may take several different jobs within all different fields, but they will shape you into a more developed person. She mentioned trying to work in a start-up or for an iconic brand. Both of these jobs would be in different realms of the industry, even though both would be vastly different, the skills you could learn are countless.  

She also gave some tips regarding applying to jobs and internship. The one thing she really stressed was cover letters. She said, “Tell your story through your cover letter.” Companies get many applications, and yours may stand out if your cover letter connects with the reader.

Also, during interviews she said to be sure to, "Sit at the edge of your seat. Don’t sit back or recline. Show that you are engaged." Body language is everything. If you look like you don’t want to be there, the company won't want you there in return. She also said to be sure to write a “thank you” note. In this digital age it is becoming more and more acceptable to ditch the handwritten letter so an email may be okay in some situations, but it is always professional to follow up with a personal letter. "Be sure to include what you learned in the interview, and why are you hungry for the job."

Even though I didn't get to meet Ann personally, I learned a lot from her that day. Who knows, maybe I'll get to meet her in the future when I am working as a fashion merchandiser!

Go for your goals, Collegiettes!