Information meetings are not job interviews, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't bring your resumé to them. A good tip from Ask the Recruiter:
Have a resumé and work samples in your bag in case you happen to make a good impression and someone asks for them. If no one asks for them, send them in with the thank-you note you are going to write after your visit.
First, don't let your home base discourage you. Yes, there are more English-language magazines published out of Toronto than any other place in Canada, but there are also more people competing for the jobs at those magazines.
Research what opportunities are available in your home town by checking job boards and the member lists of publishing associations like Magazines Canada, the Canadian Business Press, the Atlantic Magazines Association and the British Columbia Association of Magazine Publishers.
Make connections with other editors through local chapters of industry associations like the Professional Writers Association of Canada.
And don't be shy about calling up other editors and offering to take them out to lunch, just to meet them and chat about the industry. I occasionally get together for brunch with magazine peeps in my hood, outside of any organized association, and it's great to just talk about anything magazine related that's on our minds. Making and maintaining friendships in the industry is important because people who aren't in it can't fully understand it, and you need those people who get it to offer advice throughout your career.
My challenges are:
(1) I'm not a student, nor am I a "young whippersnapper," so the internship route may not be possible for me (although I would certainly jump at the opportunity).
(2) I don't live in Toronto, but in Ottawa, so opportunities are further limited.
A. I have no experience in it, but I can't imagine changing your career track is at all easy.
If you're looking to become a freelance magazine writer, the transition shouldn't be too difficult. You might be able to find work writing for trade publications, particularly those that cover the industries you've previously worked for. Like any writer trying to break in, you'll have to slowly build your portfolio with clippings from smaller local and regional magazines and work your way up to larger titles. You'll definitely need to do this to make your way into larger consumer titles. (Some veteran freelancers might advise you to keep your corporate gigs to supplement any income made from magazines.)
If you're looking to land an on-staff gig as an editor, your path will be a little longer and harder. First, don't discount internships. I once worked with an intern who was returning to the workforce after staying home to raise her kids for 12 years. Her career previous to having children wasn't in magazines, and she was willing to start at the bottom, as you are. Call up managing editors at places you'd like to intern and talk to them about whether they'd be willing to take you on. Check out my earlier post on How Old is Too Old to Intern? for more on this.
There's a little bit of a chance that you may be able to land a position without doing an internship. The key will be to prove that you "get it" and that you're capable of doing the job. You'll have to work harder than applicants with magazine experience to convey this in your cover letter and clippings. Figure out what your transferable skills are, why they make you valuable, and how they would benefit the magazine.
To help you from this angle, you may want to consider the information meeting. Talking to an editor in a senior position will help you determine if you do in fact get it and help pinpoint where your magazine skills are strong or lacking.
As for your question about opportunities given your location, I'm going to tackle this in another post. Watch for it.
8 Secrets of Success:
Success is a Continuous Journey:
Q. I'm a recent graduate just completing an internship. In September I will begin to search for a job. Are there any other titles besides editorial assistant that I should apply for?
A. Editorial assistant will be the most common job title for your level of experience, but look at other postings to see what they're looking for. Position titles aren't always consistent across the industry, so it's worth skimming postings that you're unsure of. Watch for words like entry level, junior or new graduate in the job descriptions. If your experience matches the requirements, feel free to apply.
For general descriptions of magazine job titles, check out Masthead.
Corinna vanGerwen is a freelance editor and writer. She has worked as senior editor at Style at Home, senior design editor at Cottage Life and is the former Canadian Director of Ed2010. She has also held the position of operations manager at a boutique PR agency, where she handled strategic planning and daily operations.