HOW I LANDED MY DREAM JOB
List requested by @lilyzuccaro. I am very excited to write this list!
- 1.Identified my dream job. Said it out loud. Many timesI decided I wanted to work as a food writer about halfway through my junior year of college, and immediately began doing everything I could do set those wheels in motion: shitty personal food blog (embarrassing, but it taught me a lot... and you don't become a better writer without writing), reading writers I admired, applying to culinary school... Admittedly, I also spent a lot of time just daydreaming what it'd be like to be a food writer.
- 2.Went to culinary schoolBecause I had already attended a four-year college, I wanted the culinary education experience to be as streamlined and efficient as possible. I attended the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) in Manhattan three nights a week from 5:45 to 10:45. During the day, I worked in corporate catering and at a cheese and charcuterie shop. The way I saw it, I needed *something* to give me an edge as a writer. An actual, practical knowledge of cooking seemed like the answer.
- 3.Worked as a line cookThis was the era of thigh sweat, much crying, and learning how to arrange herbs on a plate using tweezers.
- 4.Freelance-wrote for yearsSome personal-life ish brought me back to my hometown, Syracuse, where I attempted to eke out a career in freelance food writing. Turns out, freelance food writing is a very hard thing to do in Syracuse. I was mostly a receptionist.
- 5.Became a farmer (wait, what?)Wait, how is THIS relevant? My year and a half spent cooking on a full-diet, draft-powered CSA farm informed my cooking style and ethos far more than my time in culinary school and restaurants ever did. It was there I leaned exactly what sustainable and small-scale agriculture is really about--and how to relay that to the greater public.
- 6.Moved back to New York CityWhen my time on the farm ended (okay, when my dreamy farmer boyfriend dumped me), I refocused ("Oh, right; I'm a writer with no professional goals in farming outside of this romantic relationship..."), rebooted and moved to a city where I'd actually find more and more relevant opportunities.
- 7.Got a job in digital editorial, albeit not in foodI didn't want to move without a job, but the food editorial world wasn't exactly knocking down my door. Instead, I took a job as an editor at a dating and relationship advice website. While the content wasn't relevant to my career interests, I learned an incredible amount about working as an editor in the digital landscape.
- 8.Kept my ear to the ground for relevant opportunitiesI scoured Mediabistro, Good Food Jobs, Condé Nast, Hearst, Time, and more for job openings--and applied to just about every one. I got very proficient at edit tests. Each rejection got chalked up to an experience-builder. I also took pride in the knowledge that I had a unique point of view--farming--to offer. That helped set me apart. This period was much less stressful than it could have been because I wasn't in dire straits--I already had a good job that was paying my bills.
- 9.Networked (Ugh; gross word but it's true)I've always found "What can I learn from you?" to be a much more useful question than "What can you do for me?"
- 10.The edit test to end all edit testsA friend who was already working in the food editorial industry alerted me to an open position at bonappetit.com, and I immediately reached out. After an edit test that I completed in four hours and half a bottle of wine, and three subsequent interviews, it was official: I joined BA (on The List at @BonAppetit!) a staff writer, and have since transitioned to Senior Associate Editor. 🎉
- 11.Questions?Happy to elaborate on anything. Leave 'em in the comments.