8/23/11

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My newest lesson: NYC Taught me that no one wants to hire anyone without professional experience.  The real kicker for me today was when I got rejected from a temp agency. I get it. I've wasted my twenties by having babies. But look at how good I am at it! I'm a baby making machine!


Since graduating from college with an English degree, I have focused most of my attention on being a stay-at-home mom. But now, six years later, I want to do something different. I'm ready. Next month my kids will be attending school full-time and I am excited to start my career. Unfortunately, the companies I've reached out to seem less excited. What can I do to change their mind?


I've been applying to full-time entry-level positions at publishing companies. But maybe I'm doing it all wrong. I'm completely open to your suggestions. And, of course, your job offers!

POST EDIT: Every week I'll post updates on my job hunt. You might become disenchanted with me on  the first update. But then I'll win you back over on the second update.  And here's my most recent post filled with good news! I can't wait to see where this process takes me! Thanks for the huge response.

49 comments:

  1. I initially came to NYC to work in publishing and did for about 8 years. The temp agency that seems to work with the most publishing houses is called Career Blazers, so you may want to give them a call. Also, check out the websites mediabistro.com (for tips and job postings) and ed2010.com for lots of entry-level publishing positions. Hope this helps and best of luck!

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  2. Sharon - Let that Dynomite personality of yours SHINE during your initial contact and during your job interview. The first person you come in contact with during the interview process (the receptionest) will be asked their openion on weather you get hired or not. So lay on the charm! Also tell the interviewer what you could do for the company and why you are the best applicant for the position! There is a lot of competition for jobs now so you must shine above all the rest. Most people get hired because of their personiality. Your degree and experiance gets you in the door. Good luck and remain positive, there is something out there for you!
    GO GET'EM SHARON!!! D

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  3. I feel for you. When I moved to Canada from Switzerland 8 years ago I had trouble getting my foot in the door. I had 7 years of work experience but nobody cared, because it wasn't in Canada. I found it helpful to be positive, write great cover letters that jump out and not to take anything personal...If you know an HR coach or have friends in recruiting, ask for some tips on getting your CV and cover letter just right and what to watch out for once you get an interview. Also, doing volunteer work in a similar area really helped me out. Crossing my fingers for you!!!

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  4. Check out New York Foundation for the Arts www.nyfa.org classifieds...lots of creative opportunities. I echo the volunteer work...plus it feels great to give back while you are developing your network.

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  5. I agree with Giulia, doing volunteer work in a similar area will help you meet people and will get your foot in the door. Contact some non-profit publishing companies and see if you can be a volunteer writer. (Non-profits are always looking for free help!) This will help you boost your resume and confidence when you go for interviews.

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  6. Sharon - I've learned it's more about who you know than what you know that gets you in the door. Network, Network, Network. Ask your friends, fellow bloggers, play date attendees if they can help you make contact. You are bound to get your resume to the right person. Once you are in, your personality & your education/experience will seal the deal. Good Luck!

    childrensayit.blogspot.com

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  7. I agree that networking is the way to go. I don't think you should volunteer: being a mom and job hunting are two big enough jobs. Volunteering can be very time consuming and often leads nowhere (it's great if you want to support a cause, but NOT as a stepping stone for a career IMO).

    If you do choose to volunteer, be very precise about what kind of gigs you take and for whom. You want professional experience (try a part-time admin assistant post in an environmental law firm), NOT to be baking cupcakes for a community center fundraiser. And make sure you ask for letters of recommendation from those nonprofits.

    Talk to everyone you know about what kind of job you want and then thoroughly follow up on leads. And put "blogger" on your resume! It carries more weight now than it did five years ago.

    Good luck! xo

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  8. Have you tried Lynne Palmer? Their agency works specifically with publishing companies. They were so kind and helpful to me when I was looking for entry level jobs in publishing. To your advantage, you already live in NYC--I've been told that publishers will at least take a sniff at you (compared to starry-eyed out-of-towners like me). Good luck! Please share with us what works out for you.

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  9. Internship! Start applying for internships! It's a great way to gain some experience and make some connections. Also work the connections that you have. Look at fellow bloggers who work at magazine companies or in publishing. They may not be able to help you get a paid position, but they can certainly be a recommendation for an internship and once you do well there, it's just a matter of time before something paid comes along.

    Internship, internship, internship.

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  10. Wow, I totally am where you are at - I came straight out of a Masters in Education, taught for 2 years then had my first baby, then didn't want to go back full time so can't get a job teaching anymore - nor want to. What to do now? I can't see myself being good at anything or employable for anything apart from changing diapers on a squirming toddler, while chatting to my preschooler about a specific train part, while humming Brahmn's lullaby, while thinking about the next million jobs i have to do and realising that I've left the stove on... can someone employ me please????

    www.simplystylishmom.com

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  11. Have you looked at jobs at Columbia? They have a press you know. Same with NYU.

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  12. You are so up for this!! You're living a dream I will probably never actually pursue! :)

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  13. Part of it is timing. Unfortunately, the book publishing industry has been hit not just by the economy but by e-technology. Furthermore, as Borders and various other bookstores close, there’s less retail space for books, so publishers aren’t sure what the future holds.

    I would highly recommend taking the proofreading and copyediting courses at NYU, if not completing the whole certificate program. Doing an internship is another great way to get experience. Also, look beyond traditional trade book publishing. Look into scientific and academic publishing.

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  14. as hard as it is to take a job without pay, i've always found that interning works wonders. it helped me get my first job in new york, and then when i was ready for a career chance, i took a leap of faith, quit my job, took an unpaid internship, and found a side job at a little shop. in the end it worked wonders, and paid off when my boss went out of his way to help me find a job. if you're interested in publishing in particular, agencies can be a great starting point (even if they don't have particular jobs open at the time you apply, the bigger agencies will hire floaters - who are basically full-time in house temps. you're treated like a regular employee but help with special projects, fill in for regular assistants, and apply for positions as they open). also keep your eyes peeled for organizations like nyc's young to publishing group, which has meetups, which would be great for networking. and read mediabistro's galleycat religiously! good luck - sending you lots of good wishes.

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  15. Posting this & the series you have planned is a good start. Also someone said it above: network. It is about who you know, sadly. Esp. in publishing. Some ppl have left good suggestions. Good luck!

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  16. thank your for your sincere post! well you're not alone! after taking care of my daughter for 2 years, i'm ready to work but no one is callinG! and i have 10 years experience! goodluck to you!

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  17. Oh sweetie, your children are so beautiful. I'm not in NYC but I am in the same boat. I had my first baby at 19 and I found the perfect man who is able to support me so I want to have my children now. I fear a little that I won't be able to find a job, but have some faith! You'll get there. NYC is tough, but you can do it! Keep blogging! Someone will notice who is of some importance and you might luck out!

    Courtney
    I Can Be Many Things

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  18. i couldn't agree more. no one wants to hire someone without experience anywhere not just NYC ..that's my nightmare :/

    http://girlynote.blogspot.com/

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  19. I definitely get where you're coming from. I graduated with an English degree in December. I decided to pursue an MA because yes, I love it that much, but I have no idea if I'll ever be able to do anything with it.

    I have no advice to offer, unfortunately, but I'll definitely be watching what advice others give! Best of luck to you!

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  20. I think the above posters said pretty much everything I was about to say, but I just wanted to add some support!

    I graduated with an English degree back in 1990 (yikes!), another tough time jobwise. Here's what I did:

    -Spent quite a while doing really crappy temp jobs (and I do mean crappy; at one place I opened and sorted credit card payments all day).

    -Got hired full-time by one of my crappy temp jobs doing clerical work.

    -Saved enough $$ to leave my clerical job to go to the Rice University publishing program for a month (I don't think it exists anymore, but there are others out there).

    -Afterward worked at more crappy temp jobs while sending blind resumes to almost every single publisher in the midwest and NYC listed in Literary Marketplace.

    -Got hired as a secretary to the editor-in-chief at a reference book publisher in Chicago (based on one of my blind resume submissions) and did everything I could to be the world's most awesome assistant.

    -Took some proofreading/copyediting classes through University of Chicago.

    -After a year I moved into the editorial department and worked as a copy editor and later an editor. :-)

    -Got a gig freelancing on the side for metromix.com through a friend.

    -After 12 years (!) I left publishing to work in advertising as a copywriter since it pays better. I had no advertising experience, but got the job through a friend & based on my metromix.com writing clips.

    So I guess that's my long-winded way of saying just to keep trying, gain experience where you can, and take advantage of networking opportunities. Good luck--you seem like a lovely person, and I'm sure something will come your way soon.

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  21. I worked at a major New York book publishing company before moving to Chicago . Unless you are freakishly brilliant, there are two surefire ways to break into the industry: 1) If the money is available, get a publishing certificate at Columbia or NYU. The classes are taught by industry professionals and have an awesome history of job placement at major NY publishing companies. 2) Know someone. Go to your college's alumni network or your own network of friends and family, and get to work. 99.9% of the time, you'll need to start as an intern and move up from there. Good luck! I know it's not easy.

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  22. We're hiring. Hotel Internet marketing. www.hebsdigital.com

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  23. A great place to volunteer & possibly find work might be 826 NYC. http://www.826nyc.org/

    Work with kids and their writing & 826 also works with publishing student and adult work and has put out curriculum and books of collected stories. Just another idea, plus I think it would be fun and a good way to get involved and get noticed.

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  24. I am also a New Yorker and I graduated in May. It's tough out there so I completely understand! Internships usually require school credit so if you decide to go that route you may find a difficult time finding an internship that does not require school credit. You'll find something! (at least, that's what I keep telling myself!)

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  25. I just graduated in June with an English degree and am now working at a magazine. The best things I ever did were: intern and, once I became an intern, network like crazy. I set up informational interviews with editors at Harper Collins and magazines like Teen Vogue, Real Simple, etc who then tipped me off to job openings. My college never gave college credit for unpaid internships (which I know is a huge thing), so I found that it was easiest to get around that by interning at smaller places (like literary agencies or websites) and using that as a jumping off point. Wishing you the best of luck!

    P.S. If you're interested in publishing, getting a certificate in digital publishing would be fantastic--I would've done that had I not gotten a job offer.
    P.P.S. I loved Ed2010.com--it's how I got my first major magazine internship.

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  26. cutest little girl ever!

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  27. Good luck with the job hunt. Sending positive thoughts your way!

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  28. I feel for you. I worked my butt off for my degree and then had twins, which doubled our family size (three of them are under the age of two), so obviously I stay home with them. It is the hardest job, but the most rewarding. I know when I start job hunting one of these days I am going to be in your boat. I wish you the best of luck and am rooting for you. Thanks for sharing. I will check back later. Fingers crossed!

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  29. Oh goodness, this is what I worry about every day. I'm a SAHM mom too, of a 13 month old, who I had in college. I was studying English too! I wish you the absolute best in finding a job, and know that your children are gorgeous and so lucky to have a great mom.

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  30. Hi! I found you thru Cup of Jo - I will be where you are in a couple of years - kids finally in school, no work exp. and need to make some money! Also I'm looking forward to the rewards of a job outside of the sahm world. Good Luck to you!! I'm sure I will be thinking of you - sending wishes of success from San Francisco!

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  31. This will sound a little odd, but my husband faced a similar prejudice. He completed a degree in Philosophy at a really high rank university, and then moved to NYC to pursue acting. He spent 3 or 4 years trying to land gigs while working as a bartender. When he decided he wanted to do something else entirely, his interviewers were pretty harsh. Basically they viewed him as having 4 years off after college to pursue "fun stuff" - which really wasn't the reality. He worked really hard and building a life for himself and was now ready to change direction. The first couple of recruiters he met were down on that. He broke the bad interview cycle by targeting paralegal positions (always needed) and then using that position as leverage for something else. I realize you are really interested in publishing - but if you are interested in landing a position to get you started an in house position at a publisher might help. He used Michael Paige, and Compliance Group. He has also been sought out on Linked In. If you are interested reviewing those recruiters, contact me and I'll send you the info..

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  32. don't know if it'll help, but Spoonful zine always had the odd job going (sadly not paid) but we could link back to you or something.

    Dear me, know this isn't what you're looking for, but if I had piles of dosh I'd hire you in a second. I'm all for having babies and following passions:)

    thea.
    xx

    spoonfulzine

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  33. I understand you perfectly well. I have two sons (5 and 1) and a daughter (4) and I've spent the last six years of my life as a stay-at-home mom. I imagine you now what a hard work is! Fortunately I left my job on a temporary way an now I can go back in october but if I would have left it definitely now it would be impossible to find a new one, especially in Spain. I wish you really good luck!!! And congratulations for your kids, that's the best job in the world.

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  34. Goodness, doesn't this seem like a good chunk of the populations problem? It is terrifying for me to think I'll be out in the "real world" in less than two years. I like your optimism though, it's the key. Lovely blog!

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  35. Good luck in your search! I'm in my mid-twenties in Toronto (On) and finding entry level work has been a nightmare (I'm still searching). I would say start volunteering in your spare time - it's a great way to pick up work experience. Otherwise, best of luck! You have three beautiful children :o)

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  36. Good Luck with your job hunt. I too am looking for work here in Utah and it stinks! Searching for a job is stressful. What type of thing do you want to be doing in the publishing world? I use to work for a publishing company and could definitely pass your name along. Email me if you are interested at katrinanbrooks@hotmail.com

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  37. Great ideas from other commenters about volunteer work. I think that if you haven't already, you should really leverage your blog in your resume, along with any knowledge of social media. Yes, "everyone is doing it" these days, but it's a valuable (and I would argue increasingly permanent) skill to share. Start by looking for jobs that need help with web copy or copy editing and then work your way into publishing. Writers and editors are a necessity, but to get the good job you might have to start with something less glamorous.

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  38. It's ok, you got the most important part of your life covered with those adorable kids! Here are some of the helpful things to do:
    - Networking like crazy! Be POSITIVE, resourceful, and NOT DESPERATE. Sometimes you'll feel like you're wasting your time, but if you get 1 interview out of 100 meetings/ conversation, that's a success.
    - Learn some html/ website making/ maintenance. This is always helpful.
    - Volunteer.
    - Stay positive, and Good luck!

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  39. I read through a lot of the comments but not all, so I apologize for any repetition. As someone who broke into publishing at 30 years old, with a 4-year-old daughter, I can't recommend an internship enough. Even then, I had to pursue it HARD - lots of phone calls and networking were a MUST (you'd think they would've been happy to have me work for them for free but no...I had to fight for it). Start with middle-level publishers, rather than the "Big 6" - they're more approachable and your internship is much more hands-on and diverse. But you'll most likely need to start at the internship level for a couple months.

    I'm not thrilled about the volunteering idea - I feel like internships at any place have more prestige.

    DEFINITELY include all your blog/social media experience. Include statistics so that employers know you're not "just another blogger."

    Ditto on mediabistro.com. Follow editors and publishers on Twitter as well - a lot of connections are made that way and you'll also get the skinny on local networking events.

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  40. I didn't read any of the comments, so please forgive any duplication. I'd start by looking for smaller companies that need the kind of help that you're looking to do work in. Build up a network, because in all likelihood your first job is going to come through contacts.

    I only just got sent this link to your blog today, and already I like you - this is obviously your biggest asset. Good luck!

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  41. I'm afraid I have no advice, but I wanted to let you know that my best job thoughts are sent your way. I wrote a little about your post over at my own blog today (mostdaysiwin.blogspot.com). May excellent jobs find us soon. Good luck with your internship!

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  42. I agree with Kathryn & Stephanie's advice. When I lived in NYC, I could not get a job in publishing to save my life. I have an English degree & was 22 at the time & had a decent resume. I think a journalism degree is more helpful for that kind of job. To temp in publishing (at least when I wanted to) you had to know how to proofread & copy edit in a professional way with abbreviations I wasn't taught as an English major.

    I don't know what your dream job is, though. Is it to be an editor at a magazine or a publishing house? Just stay positive & persistent & focused.

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  43. Hi Sharon - You are awesome! I love your honesty about life. Thanks for sharing.

    Alison

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  44. Listen, I'm 46 and have no children. I have all kinds of experience, and even I cannot find work half the time. There are just too many people looking right now, and employers---or their human resource directors---want people who have done nearly the exact job somewhere else. What you might have to do is some interning, underpriced freelance, or apprentice work. For publishing, publish your own or someone else's small book. Also, it's best to get work through networking and not via your resume in a pile with literally hundreds of others. A great article in the WSJ recently noted that employers are looking for unnecessary qualifications these days. This is all just a sign of the times (and remember the publishing biz has changed radically).

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  45. Hi Sharon... My name is Luciana and I move from Brazil to Manhattan in june. First I need to say I love your blog, second I will give you one sugestion. I imagine how difficult it is to start a now your professional live (I have a daughther with 13 and I am a single mom). I don´t know how much become a teacher, but in this city there are a huge number of people that need private classes. I wish you luck!

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  46. Thanks for your post

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  47. Love your blog :) New follower!! lovely DIY, the little stories happening to u At NYC and the pics. everything really!! great!!
    hope u 'll finally find a job!! good luck!

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