Name: Erin Greenawald
Job Title and Description: I’m the Editor at The Daily Muse, which means I use the power of words to help people figure out what they want to do with their lives (and give them the tools to get there).
College/Major: American University/Environmental Studies
Twitter Handle: @erinaceously
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Erin Greenawald: I mostly work to support our Editor in Chief, Adrian Granzella Larssen, in making sure we have amazing content to publish every day of the week. So the bulk of my time is working with words, be it writing my own, helping finesse other people’s [writing] or writing email after email to give feedback to my writers.
And while there are some typical things I do regularly—weekly content I must produce, bi-weekly columnists to work with, photos to choose for the site—there’s also a good amount of variation depending on what articles I’m working on and what big projects we’re developing outside of the daily content. So, for example, one week I could be pulling together content for a feature week such as Food Week, the next I could be working on copy for a Muse University class, and the next I could be designing our professional development guides.
What is the best part of your job?
EG: When you work for a startup, everyone has to pull their weight and sometimes do tasks that don’t necessarily fit under your typical job description. This has worked in my favor, allowing me to try on different hats and gain experience in areas I may not have in a position at a larger, more structured publication. Over the years, I’ve gotten to try my hand at email marketing, social media, event planning, design and more. I’ve gotten to watch from the front lines as our CEO fundraises and our COO plans out the product, and I’ve gotten to participate in big conversations about the direction of our publication.
It’s been so exhilarating to both get to do what I enjoy doing and what I’m good at, but to also experience a business growing from all sides.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
EG: Believe it or not, this is my first job in the field! I started out over two years ago as an editorial intern with The Daily Muse, right when the company was starting out. I had barely any editorial background when I interviewed—just a couple writing classes and a little work with our school paper’s blog—but I was interested in the space and loved what the company was setting out to do, so I gave it a shot. Thank goodness I did.
After that, I just worked as hard as I could to learn fast, prove my worth, and ultimately create my position in the company. Before I knew it, my internship had become a part-time paid position with the promise of a job as soon as I graduated. I’ve been incredibly lucky to be given the amount of responsibility I have been at such an early stage, and really attribute it to my ability to just jump at an opportunity outside of my comfort zone and work at it, or even ask for help, until I figure it out.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
EG: This isn’t really industry-focused, but I wish I had really understood the nature of networking. I had read countless articles on our site about the importance of networking, and had been pushed by my boss to be building relationships for the company, but had always avoided networking as much as possible because I thought I was bad at it. When I would go to big networking events, I would freeze up and feel awkward.
I now realize that there are many ways to network, some of which I excel at. Even though walking into a big room and working it will probably never be my thing, chatting one-on-one over coffee or meeting and collaborating at a conference allow me to build relationships in a way that makes sense for me.
Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
EG: My mom. She was the one who, when I was hesitating to apply to this internship because of a wave of uncertainties, told me that it seemed like an opportunity that was too good a fit to pass up and reminded me that the worst they could do was say no. Without her, I may not have leapt for it. And I’ve done my best to carry that “the worst they can do is say no” mentality with me since then, which has gotten me a lot of yes’s that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
EG: It’s kind of silly, but I have a desktop background that says, “Quit slackin’ and make s**t happen.” I have a terrible propensity to procrastinate, so it’s a nice little reminder that I’ve got to put in the work if I want to see the results.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
EG: You know, I always expect to get this question in interviews, but I always hate it because I can never think of anything! And that’s not to say I’m perfect and have made no mistakes—because I have—but I’m not the type to dwell on mistakes.
It’s kind of the startup “fail fast” mentality. Sure, I’ve made mistakes. I’ve done things that haven’t worked out. But I’ve learned from them, corrected quickly and moved on. I don’t have space in my mind to remember the details of the mistake itself, but I’ve internalized the lessons learned.
That being said, I’m still working on not letting my age hold me back in my career. I often feel very self-conscious that I am so young—ashamed even—but am working on reminding myself that experience, abilities and the way I carry myself matter more than my birth date.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
EG: Since we’re still a small staff, I haven’t gotten to hire anyone since joining the team full time. When I do get to hire, I would look for someone who has a proven record of working hard, but who isn’t obviously trying too hard in the interview process. A relaxed confidence, if you will.
Oh, and don’t make any mistakes in your resume, cover letter, or any other communications. While that’s true for any job you’re applying to, it’s especially true for editorial positions.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
EG: Just start. If you know you want to be writing, start writing in whatever way you can to build your portfolio and expertise. If you don’t know exactly what you want to be doing, that’s okay, but start something. Once you start doing, you’ll be able to learn more about what’s a fit and what’s not.