Editorial & Career Advice I Learned at Her Conference 2018

This past weekend, Her Campus held its 7th annual Her Conference event in New York City. More than 600 attendees — including writers, editors, leaders and members of Her Campus chapters, industry professionals and amazing keynote speakers — gathered together for a weekend of career insight and inspiration (and lots of Instagram pics, thanks to pop-ups and freebies from brands like Bliss, Ulta, Almay and S'well).

For me, the past weekend was a literal and visual reminder that the Her Campus network stretches far beyond each campus chapter.

Not only was it amazing to connect with leaders of other chapters from schools around the nation and HC editors (who I've emailed back and forth with but have never met in person), but it was also inspiring to know that many of the panelists at the conference were former Her Campus writers and interns. 

If you weren't at the conference in person, don't fret — here are some takeaways and tips from a selection of panelists and speakers.

Words of wisdom from Samantha Barry, Editor-in-Chief at Glamour

Glamour, the legacy publication that's been a voice for women since 1939, recently got an entirely new look — down to the fonts, layouts and logos in print and on social media. The magazine's newly appointed EIC, Samantha Barry, spearheaded the rebrand.

Barry's hard news, digital-first background made her an interesting — and powerful — choice to lead Glamour. She grew up in Ireland and started her career as a radio reporter. Her first job was working for a radio network in Ireland that broadcasted to truck drivers in the ungodly hours of the morning. She said radio is and will always be her first love.

She went on to work for BBC, CNN and other news organizations around the world, and she explained that she had an early interest in social media (before many news outlets were leveraging their content across all digital platforms), which made her stand out in the newsroom setting. In her presentation, she walked us through her strategy of leading Glamour as a digital brand in what she called the "Three V's": voice, video and viewpoint.

Barry is bringing this sentiment to Glamour by tackling stories that are "of the moment, but from a different angle." That's how she conceptualized the May issue of Glamour, called The Money Issue, which was the first under her leadership. 

She also said all aspiring journalists and media professionals should have at least a basic understanding of video, which has become an increasingly vital platform for modern media companies. 

"You can love words, but you need to know video," she said.

Finally, Barry left us with this question: "In a world of curated content and digital clickbait, there's so much noise — how do you stand out?"

For Samantha Barry and the brand new Glamour, that means focusing on original reporting, authentic storytelling and use of video, multimedia and even new ways of experiential marketing to transform stories and articles — on print and digital — into interactive experiences.

Three pieces of advice from Hannah Orenstein, author of Playing With Matches

"Early on in your career, say yes to everything."

  • Tasks and responsibilities at internships or in your first entry-level position may not always seem glamorous or impactful, but you never know what they could lead to or who you might meet along the way. When Orenstein had a summer internship at Elle, none of the other interns wanted to transcribe a four-hour long interview — so she volunteered. It was exhausting and initially seemed like thankless job, but it allowed her to be connected with the interview subject, a famous matchmaker whom she looked up to — and this later inspired Orentsein's next adventures in life and ultimately the subject of her first novel.

"Fake it until you make it."

  • It's normal be nervous in interviews or when cold-emailing people you admire — but pretend to be confident if you have to. Practice your conversations if needed, and don't second-guess yourself. 

"To take from Nike: Just do it."

  •  When it comes to getting started on a project we've been dreaming of, we often put it off because we don't think we're ready. As Orenstein said, "You could wait until you're smarter, stronger or more confident — but the thing that makes you those things is to just do the thing you've wanted to do all along." In other words, starting somewhere is better than not starting at all — and if we keep waiting, we'll just be waiting for the rest of our lives.

More tips from editorial experts

On preparing for edit tests:

"Know the brand and site completely. Most importantly, relax, take your time and don't beat yourself up." - Rachel Epstein, Assistant Editor at MarieClaire.com

"Quality over quantity, but don't be afraid to go the extra mile. You could pitch more ideas than they asked for, make the document really nicely formatted or even add a cover page." - Maya Allen, Assistant Beauty Editor at Byrdie.com

On landing your first entry-level editorial position:

"When you're starting out, don't be afraid to join a niche publication or company. I work for a wedding publication, but I can easily tailor the stories I work on and the tasks I do to a travel publication or a style publication." - Emily Platt, Editorial Assistant at Martha Stewart Weddings

On turning freelancing into a full-time or contracted position:

"Be nice, be good and be on time — and don't underestimate the power of informational interviews." - Elyssa Goodman, freelance writer and photographer and creator of Miss Manhattan

"Make your editor's job really easy by providing a lot of info in the stories you turn in — include photo options, include different headline ideas, include a lot of links." - Wendy Lu, freelance journalist

On valuable skills to work on during college:

"Think about how stories can be multi-platform. Think big. Video and social media matter, and showing your boss or your potential employer that you are already thinking about those things will definitely help you." - Maya Allen, Assistant Beauty Editor at Byrdie.com

"Know how to produce great, thoughtful work fast." - Rachel Epstein, Assistant Editor at MarieClarie.com

These were some of my favorite insights from the panelists I heard from, but there were so many other amazing speakers and workshops that tackled everything from careers in tech, politics, entrepreneurship, news and book publishing, Instagram Story hacks, influencer marketing — and so much more. 

If you didn't make it to the conference this year and are serious about pursuing a career in digital media, editorial or marketing in some capacity, I can't recommend this experience enough. Also, if you're a UF student and are interested in joining Her Campus UFL for the fall semester, our applications are open until Aug. 1, and we'd love to see you apply. We're looking for writers, editors, vloggers, PR/events members and an Instagram manager. Learn more and apply here!