Calling all aspiring fashion journalists! Truc Nguyen, Teen Vogue and FLARE Magazine veteran gives us her insightful (and let’s face it, crucial) advice on how to make it as a fashion editor that you just can’t miss.
SNTF: As a writer, it is important to have a unique voice that allows you to stand out from the crowd. What advice do you have for aspiring editors who are looking to find their voice?
TN: It can take a long time, maybe years of working, to figure out your personal voice, tone and area of expertise. In the meanwhile, read great writers whose work you admire, critically analyze their writing to see what draws you in, and do the best that you can to play up those strengths in your own work. While having a voice is important, make sure that as a writer you’re working from a solid foundation of good grammar, punctuation, and other technical skills.
SNTF: I’ve always been told that one of the best ways to improve your writing skills is to read as much as possible. Which magazines, blogs or books would you recommend that have inspired you or helped you improve your writing? Are there any other tips you would give future editors to help refine their writing?
TN: As a fashion editor, I love reading a mix of traditional news publications (The New York Times, The New Yorker, WWD) and industry websites (Business of Fashion, The Cut, Refinery29, Fashionista) on a regular basis. But I actually find reading fiction much more inspirational in terms of improving my vocabulary and syntax. I love everything from chick lit like Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, to historical fiction such as Lily King’s Euphoria, to all of Canadian-Vietnamese writer Kim Thúy’s amazing novellas.
SNTF: Having hired many of your own interns, what do you find is the best way to make a positive impression on your employers?
TN: The best interns that I’ve supervised have been enthusiastic about the internship, eager to learn, and incredibly hard-working. I think the best way to make a good impression during your internship is to work quickly and efficiently, learn to anticipate the needs of your supervisor and help them problem solve, and to be consistently reliable.
SNTF: Internships are very important for gaining experience and networking purposes, however, it is sometimes hard to know the appropriate way to keep in touch with those contacts. How should one go about re-connecting with past employers and maintaining the relationship?
TN: I think it really depends on the personality of each intern and editor, but as a general rule it’s nice to keep in touch semi-regularly with your employer via email. Reaching out when you have professional updates is always a good idea, and just saying hello is fine too as long as the sentiment is genuine.
SNTF: Many writers are now choosing to freelance, do you feel as though is it essential for hopeful editors to have freelance experience? Also, in your opinion, is full-time freelance a more difficult path than working in traditional publishing?
TN: Freelancing is a great way to build up your portfolio and network of contacts, especially if you’re just starting out. I don’t think there is such a thing as a standard path anymore in fashion and media, but I can tell you that getting a job in print or online publishing is, unfortunately, a rare event these days. There are both pros and cons to both types of jobs, but keep in mind that most editors today will probably find themselves on both sides at different points in their careers.
SNTF: What do you find is more valuable to employers who are looking to hire fashion editors, lots of internship and volunteer experience or a portfolio with plenty of great clips?
TN: Can I say both are important? It really depends on the specific job, but in my personal experience internships and volunteer gigs while I was in school really launched my career because I didn’t have any family contacts in the industry or any exposure to the business growing up.
SNTF: Looking for jobs, especially for the first time post-graduation, can be intimidating. What is the most important thing to keep in mind when applying for jobs in the fashion industry?
TN: I think my best piece of advice to a young job-seeker is to not take it personally, and be persistent. There are hundreds of applicants sometimes for an entry-level job at a coveted company, and many times the deciding factor is not something that you could’ve controlled. My second piece of advice is to be prepared and to really do your research. Make sure that you have the right background and experience for the jobs that you’re applying for, otherwise you’re probably not going to get an interview or be a good fit for the role.
SNTF: Lastly, is there any advice you could share that you wish someone had given you about working as an editor in the fashion industry?
TN: I wish someone had told me early on to always embrace change, especially in terms of how technology has impacted our industry. I loved working at legacy publications during the course of my career, but sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I had pursued certain digital opportunities that had come my way over the years!
By Sarah Said
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