Julia Rubin is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and now works as the Associate Online Editor for Fashion Features at Teen Vogue. She gives insight into her internship experiences and shares some advice for students hoping to break into the ever-growing fashion industry.
During college, where did you gain internship experience?
I interned every summer in college. I interned at Yves Saint Laurent in New York for my first two summers and I was in the creative services/visual merchandising department. We were responsible for anything visual that was not designing the clothes, so that was the window displays, general store curation, what events looked like, and it was great. I loved it, but I knew I wanted to try something else. So that third summer, I spent half the week interning at Chanel in the communications department and the other half in sales and marketing at Phaidon, which is a publisher, and they have lots of really cool art and fashion and food books. I did those internships when I was in school and was always in New York, but knew that none of them were totally the right fit. During the school year, I worked for the arts and culture magazine at school, kind of like The Village Voice for Penn. So I worked there since the first day of school and rose through the ranks and eventually was the Editor-In-Chief. In my junior year I started up the campus blog. It was great. It was the point when I realized I loved writing, loved editing, and loved the Internet. Even though I interned in fashion, I was much more interested in media, and because of my background in fashion, it was easy to put the two together and start off as a fashion writer and editor.
What was the most important thing you learned from interning?
I just really loved that as an intern, you’re an observer. I’ve always been really interested in seeing how groups of people work, what structures are like, how everything works, and all the nitty gritty stuff. In terms of general skills, just seeing that the people who were the happiest were the people who were really really into what they did. That’s how my team was at YSL for example. They were all so obsessed with all the visual stuff; they lived it and breathed it. So I wanted to find something that I felt that way about because that’s why they were so good at their jobs. That’s ultimately what led me to realizing that my passion was writing and editing.
What was the most challenging part along the way during the job hunt when you were fresh out of school?
For me, the hardest thing was coming to terms with the fact that I wanted to be a writer and editor. This is a pretty difficult industry and it can be a trying thing on a personal level. So just deciding that I was going to do it and diving in head first, was definitely the scariest.
How did you land a job at Teen Vogue?
My first job out of school was with a fashion news site called Styleite. I was there for two years and I started out as an intern and was promoted a few different times. By the time I left, I was the managing editor of the site. In my first year at Styleite, I received an email from a web editor at Teen Vogue. It was really the coolest email I’ve ever gotten. She told me that she read my stuff on Styleite and she really liked my article on Karlie Kloss. We ended up keeping in touch, helping each other out and having a professional email relationship. A year later, I got an email from her saying that there was a position opening on the web team that she thought I’d be perfect for and her boss would be reaching out. And she did. The rest is history.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
July was a very exciting month for me because a bunch of crazy things all happened at once. This was all within a matter of weeks, which was insane. I went to Berlin for a Selena Gomez event, which was really cool because I had never travelled anywhere, much less internationally, for work. That was super cool. Then I came back and found out that a feature story I had written for the magazine was green lit for an upcoming issue so I was hurrying to get that all together. It was super exciting because this was the first print story I had in the magazine and it was about teenage heroin use, which is a really crazy and important topic to cover right now. So I had to put the finishing touches on that. Also, Teen Vogue launched its video channel and I was able to be in one of the videos. I don’t think I’m particularly good on camera but I was very flattered and really excited with how it all turned out. So it was cool to be able to do so many different things and it was very much a realization of how multi-faceted it is being at a magazine. Even though I’m on digital, I write lots of stories for the website but am still able to write for the magazine and work with video, so it was very cool to see all that come together and be a part of it.
What advice do you have for students hoping to get into this industry?
What I did was reach out to people I had some sort of connection to and really respected. The connection can be small. Reach out to people who are not total strangers and keep up with those people. Figuring out what you even like is also really important and just looking around. I found my first job from a tweet. A friend of the woman who became my boss told me to get in touch with her. It’s all just weird things like that. Always be open. Also don’t feel like you have to say yes. If you get a job opportunity that comes your way and you know that you’re not going to be happy there, don’t take it. If you genuinely think this is not something you want to do and you just want to say yes to end the job search, that’s not great. Wait until something comes along that could be an opportunity for you and a good launching point. Even if it ends up being something you don’t like, that’s okay too. Don’t be afraid to change direction. That’s okay. Get out as soon as you can. Life is too short.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I think that what I’ll ultimately do, or continue to do, probably doesn’t exist right now. When I started college, the job that I had by the time I graduated did not exist. It just didn’t. When I graduated high school in 2006, the idea that you could be a paid writer and editor on the Internet, writing about fashion, going to all the same events that the print editors were going to, it was just unheard of. Those jobs just did not exist and if they did, they were very few and far between. My job at Teen Vogue didn’t exist until I started there. So I kind of have to imagine that what I do next doesn’t exist yet. The media industry is something that is just rapidly changing and the digital world really is expanding. I tell anyone who is looking to be a journalist now that there actually are more opportunities because magazine website staff keep growing and web-only places have fully fleshed-out mastheads now, which is great. I find it really encouraging.