Q. I'm entering my last year of university and I'm considering my options for after graduation. I'm a Canadian citizen, but I'm quite drawn to moving to New York to try and build a career there, or at the very least score some good internships. Do you think it makes sense to move to New York to try to gain more experience even though there's a strong chance I might end up back in Canada if I can't find an employer willing to sponsor my work visa? Do hiring managers here tend to favour candidates with experience at Canadian publications? It seems like the opportunities available in Canada are a lot more limited than in the States, and since I've only realized quite recently that journalism is the avenue I want to pursue, I feel quite behind.
A. I think moving to New York is a great idea, but I certainly wouldn't do it just because you feel you're behind in your career or that it's something you have to do in order to get anywhere. It is tough to break into magazines in Canada since there are limited options, but the community is small and once you catch that first break, you can advance pretty rapidly. New York does offer more opportunities in terms of sheer numbers, but from what I know of the business down there, it can be just as, if not more, difficult to land that first gig. And climbing the ladder can be vicious.
Moving to New York is an option I'm keeping in the back of my mind, too, but I wouldn't go for what Toronto doesn't have – I'd go for what the NYC does have. There, I would be able to apply to the specific magazines I love, to the titles I dream of working at. Plus, I love the city. It would be an experience in itself, and that's what you should be going for.
As for how that experience will be viewed should you come back to Canada, it's unlikely to harm your career and may even put you ahead of other candidates. If a big-name US magazine is listed on your résumé, at the very least, hiring managers will notice it and perhaps spend a few more seconds looking at your application (always a good thing). Beyond that, the knowledge of how other magazines and other magazine markets and industries function, gives you a broader set of experiences from which to draw on. You'll likely have fresh ideas to bring to the table, which is always valuable in an employee.
Bottom line, move to New York because you want to be there, not because you've given up on Toronto.
Do you have a question about your editorial career? Email me at vangerwen[at]gmail[dot]com.
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.