“Career Diaries” is a column from Step Up Magazine where we feature established professionals on what it’s like--and what it takes--to enter their field. Today we are excited to learn from Amelia Edelman.
Amelia is an editor, journalist, and poet from New York City, currently living in Nashville but usually found on the road, in the air, and around the globe. She writes about travel, home, design, health and wellness, work, literature, politics, and sometimes ghosts. Amelia is a graduate of Vassar College (BA) and New York University (MA) and has also studied at St. Andrews University in Scotland, The Center for Book Arts, and the Unterberg Poetry Center at 92Y. She was a writer-in-residence at Rivendell Writers’ Colony in Sewanee, Tennessee, this year and is currently Senior Editor at SheKnows Media and a poet with The Porch's Poetry on Demand/Versify.
In a few sentences, please tell us what you do and what your job involves.
I’m a senior editor at SheKnows, an online women’s lifestyle publication. I manage our Parenting department, including assigning and editing news, personal essays, and reported features, and I also write for our other departments, primarily travel.
What is something you wish you knew about your industry before you entered it?
Oh god, the trolls. I mean, I imagine I have a pretty thick skin, but when you’re bombarded by daily emails/tweets/comments that shame and tear apart your entire personality/life/family/job, it really makes you second-guess the industry you so passionately leapt into as a young journalist. The troll comments were way worse when I was working at Refinery29 though; they’re much fewer and further between at my current job, which is wonderful.
What has surprised you about your industry?
Other than the trolls? Mostly how so much of journalism and particularly women’s media is built on the backs of talented, driven, SUPER hard-working and yet underpaid and definitely under-credited women — often women of color, queer women, and others doing fantastic work while still fighting a real battle for recognition (and PAYMENT) in a traditionally white male-dominated field. That’s part of what I love so much about SheKnows; this company really walks the walk in terms of hiring, supporting, paying women and raising up their voices — which is more than I can say for a lot of places I’ve worked.
What does an average morning look like for you?
Well, I have a 2-year-old son, so if often starts at about 6am when he runs into my bed. I make coffee and we always eat breakfast together; he and I are probably double-handedly keeping the vegan sausage market in business. If I have early childcare, I’ll try to sneak in a 7am yoga class, or I’ll practice in our sunroom while my son does his adorable downward dogs or climbs all over me. I work remotely from my home in Nashville, so I sign on to the SheKnows Slack at 8ish to line up with when folks arrive at the main NYC office. And then it’s pretty much a work whirlwind until 5 if I’m lucky, 7 if I’m not!
We often knock out breaking news first and then I’m planning / assigning/ editing/ publishing our longer feature stories, interfacing with other editors and with freelance writers around the world — oh, and our amazing illustrator who is somehow able to turn all of the nonsensical word soups I throw at her into beautiful imagery for our stories.
What does an average afternoon look like for you?
Much of the same work-wise; I’m terrible at remembering to eat so I often break for lunch at 3 or 4. I try to walk away from work at 5 or 6 and make my son dinner and hopefully get in some yoga, barre or spin if I didn’t in the AM. But a lot of times I’m still plugging away at stories later in the evening, or returning to the computer after I put my son to bed. Honestly though, other than the inevitable admin crap and spreadsheets and invoices, the actual editing never feels like work. I love reading stories and nerding out on grammar edits and making the whole thing shine.
What are some of your favorite parts of your job and what are some of your not-so-favorite parts?
Well, the nerding out is great, and the being paid to read all day. I love editing because it’s like translating text into another language, but that language is just the specific style of correct English of a particular publication. I love swapping out incorrect semicolons and all that jazz; it’s so satisfying ;-)
I also love working with a team of badass talented women all day. I feel like the other editors are great friends, even though we’re across the country from each other most of the time. Least favorite parts I also mentioned: admin crap, invoices, spreadsheets. I mean, I’m an editor with a graduate degree in American literature; it’s not hard to imagine that math is not my top skill set!
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t take crap just for prestige. It doesn’t matter how “cool” your job looks; they still need to pay you well and treat you well. If they don’t, ask for it. And if they refuse, get the hell out of there. Sticking around a shit situation just so you can say “I work for THIS company” and watch people’s looks of admiration? That neither feeds your soul nor pays your bills.
What is your advice to a student who is interested in entering the industry you work in?
Be honest, be brave, don’t drink the Kool-Aid, don’t be afraid to walk away, and whatever you do, don’t read the comments.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
I mean, Slack is my life, and Asana is super helpful as well for organizing all the different steps and channels that go into publishing a story.