|Photo - Sonia Mansilo|
Why did you choose a career in journalism?
I chose a journalism career for a few reasons. One was my obsession with women's magazines. They were an escape from reality and just highly entertaining. My dream was to become the editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, ha! Another reason I chose journalism was for practicality. My first love was always creative writing, but as any child of immigrants will tell you, your parents would rather you become an arsonist than a creative anything. The third reason was Murphy Brown! Candice Bergen created a lasting impression on me as a strong, career-minded woman.
How did you get your start as a web editor?
I started out doing everything but media including working as an office temp (haven't we all done this at some point?). Talk about motivation to find something in your field. I was writing for blogs and small print publications during all of this, mostly for free. I then started working in an entry-level insurance job (HORROR), and applied for a copywriting job at The Bay. I didn't get it. A year later I inquired again, interviewed and landed the position. I left that job to work as a web content coordinator at Alliance Atlantis. I then worked my way up in the digital department to the editor position of their lifestyle brands which included slice.ca, foodnetwork.ca, and hgtv.ca.
How do you decide which stories to publish on TheKit.ca?
The Kit is a truly multi-platform brand meaning it spans across different platforms like print, web and tablet. It's a beauty and fashion publication, but the information is always made accessible for readers. Tips, tutorials, trends, and celebrity inspiration are always great. It's a mix between practical and aspirational. And the content is always presented in a fun and entertaining way as well. I've been writing, editing and producing women's lifestyle content for quite some time, so it's fairly second nature to me. Plus, I'm always looking for a strong voice. In women's lifestyle, especially online, the de facto directive is usually, “Please write as if you're chatting with one of your girlfriends.”
|Photo - Sonia Mansilo|
I wake up fairly early and roll over in bed and crack open my MacBook. Facebook is my aggregator of choice. I then visit a bunch of websites and social networks. Then I come up with a rough sked for the day. Then I roll over and go back to bed! Once it's a decent hour I get my behind into work and start writing, editing, assigning out work. I have my interns to assign work to as well. I have newsletters to work on and copy for the print edition. Then there are editorial meetings, PR reps to liaise with, and I'll work on my editorial and social media calendar. And sometimes after work there are events to go to as well.
|Photo - Stephanie Sterjovski|
Working in this particular niche means there are press junkets that will take you to other cities, and big swanky parties you get access to, etc., etc. That's all good, I guess. To me the best opportunities are the ones where I get to meet fascinating people—famous or otherwise. I've interviewed celebrity chefs, fashion designers, and TV personalities. I've interviewed Carrie Underwood who was lovely. I was on a food and wine judging panel with Chef Susur Lee once and that blew my mind. Keep in mind I will on occasion eat an Egg McMuffin for breakfast... Why am I sitting next to Susur Lee? Crazy.
What is a disadvantage of your job that maybe we don't think about?
As much as we all love social media (myself included), managing it as part of your job can be draining because it never sleeps. You're tweeting on the weekends and you're Facebooking after work. You're on alert all the time. That's not always fun. Plus, digital is constantly evolving. The minute you think you know everything you need to know Mashable publishes a story on some new social network or tech gadget. It can be a bit crazy on your psyche. Sometimes I take social sabbaticals.
|At the Steven & Chris Show|
I went to Ryerson University's school of journalism. I specialized in magazine reporting and editing. They use a hybrid approach. You take liberal arts classes alongside hands-on journalism training. You go out and find a story and file it by 5pm while you're also working on a history essay due on Friday. Needless to say, I cried a lot.
Is there anything you would have done differently or advise others about?
For me personally, I might have gone to art school. I power daydream! Maybe in a past life I was an artist of some stripe. Who knows. Advice for others: you absolutely do not need a journalism degree to be a journalist. I don't regret going that route at all. I had the industry's best as professors and instructors. I built a network without even knowing it as my former classmates are now flourishing in the field. However, it's not for everyone. I would suggest you volunteer at a community newspaper or do a few internships. And just write, write, write and hone your craft.
Where are your favourite places to hang out in Toronto?
I'll go just about anywhere and try anything at least once. I'm a casual pub girl most times. I know someone who is uber stylish who told me they liked chain bars. My adoration for said person doubled. However, if I must be hip and urban I will say try The Saint for the chicken pot pie—so good. Beaconsfield has a chocolate and roasted banana bread pudding. I'm not sure why they serve anything else. They don't need to. Not even booze. It's ALL about that dessert.
|With Avril Graham|
Who inspires you?
I'm inspired by all the women in my life—family, friends, co-workers. I'm inspired by Michelle Obama. She's very happy. She's well-educated, she takes care of her kids, she has what appears to be a loving relationship with a man she adores. Who wouldn't want that level of contentment? I'm inspired by women like Vashtie Kola and Roisin Murphy. Some would say Vashtie is a music video director and Roisin is a singer/songwriter. I classify them as creative machines. They just create for a living. That is the ultimate career as far as I'm concerned.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
There's this quote I like, although I'm not sure who said it or wrote it: don't compare your bloopers reel to everyone else's highlight reel. Basically, it means don't beat yourself up for your inadequacies and think everyone else is perfect. They're not. And you also don't suck.
What life advice do you have for hip + urban girls out there trying to figure out what they want to do?
Try new career paths or areas within the same field. There is no rule that says you can't veer off the road for a few years and then come back—if at all. And try to have a passion project. Work on something that you're excited about, but doesn't have anything to do with your career.