Monday, July 8, 2013

Wouldn't you love to be paid to island hop? Advice from Islands Magazine Editor

This summer I connected with some amazing professionals who were willing to share their wisdom. Each profile will feature how their first job out of college led to their amazing careers today (that they love, by the way), as well as their advice to help you do the same. 

I subscribe to Islands Magazine as a motivator - reading the amazing travel stories and looking at the serene beaches excites me to work harder to be able to visit the places I'm reading about. 

Last month I read an amazing story in the magazine and thought, "wow, the guy who wrote this is literally paid to travel to beautiful islands - what a cool job." I looked up the writer and it turned out he was the Executive Editor!

Many could argue being a travel writer is a dream job, but desiring to travel will not get you there. It takes hard work, and I'm so thankful to Robert for sharing his advice with us. Thanks Robert!!

 First Job Profile: Robert Stephens, Editor for the Islands media brand

1) What was your first job out of college and how did you get it? 

For the first six months I got a taste of authentic television hauling camera cables and building scaffolds for a production company. 

When you're in the trenches like that, you get sweaty, dirty, and poor, but those types of jobs are opportunities to prepare for the next step. And that step was what I consider my first career job: producing the morning news for a TV station in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

I'd interned there my senior year of college. During that internship I did whatever was necessary to be part of the news team — not just a college student running errands to earn a few credits. The staff apparently liked my work ethic, and when a position opened up, they contacted me. No more scaffolds. 

2) What was the most important thing you learned from your first job?

Humility for one. Looking for solutions instead of problems for another. My first night on the job was a disaster, and the best learning experience I've ever had. I knew I'd be responsible for creating the 6:30 a.m. newscast. What I didn't know is that I'd be alone from 11 p.m. until the anchorwoman showed up at 6 a.m. to go over the scripts — the ones I was supposed to write. 

It had to be the worst newscast in the history of that market. Tapes weren't cued up. Scripts were mistimed. Phonetic spellings were missing. We went to black three times. 

Afterward, the anchor was fuming. Before she could say anything, I walked up to her and said, "I'm really sorry. Tomorrow will be better, I promise. And I'd appreciate it if you could show me a few things before I leave today." Things got better in a hurry. 

3) What did you to leverage your first job to help you get where you are today? 

The newsroom wasn't where I wanted to be. I wanted to work with the sports division because the writing was more creative and less formulaic. So I actually volunteered to work with the sports crew on some weekends and evenings. When I decided to move into print media, that extra experience on the creative side got me in the door. 

4) What advice do you have for a recent graduate who is struggling to find their first job after college? 

Don't chase clouds. That job is important, but if you treat it as the be-all end-all, you'll be badly disappointed. It's just a part in the engine called life. So enjoy the process, always.

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