Editor Instills Confidence
- Pete Rouse to receive honorary degree
- Savas Zembillas to receive honorary degree
- Erik Quist to receive honorary degree
Many students on the Hill eagerly anticipate their life after college. They hope to snag great internships, move to a new city and eventually land that dream job. So what's it like to actually live that life? Meghann Foye '00 could tell you, as she turned a JanPlan internship at Elle Magazine into the launch pad for her career. She has spent time at elle.com, Woman's Day and eventually Seventeen, where she currently works as the Deputy Editor.
Foye's "big break" arrived during her senior year, when she noticed that a JanPlan internship at Elle was being offered. Fortunately, Foye had a connection at Elle--Alyssa Giacobbe '98, a former Features Editor for the Echo. Foye contacted Giacobbe about the internship, and she was hired for the position. "I'd never lived in New York before and it was quite a culture shock to come from outdoorsy Maine to one of the biggest fashion magazines in NYC," Foye says. Over the month of January, she "organized the book closet, got editors lattes from Starbucks, created 'daily clips' from all the gossip columns and at one point was lucky enough to help the features editor finalize a cover story written by the award-winning Francine Prose late one Friday night." It was that experience that made Foye realize that magazine journalism was where she wanted to stay. "Trying to help tell one woman's story so that it connected emotionally with the reader, something just clicked, and I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do as a career."
Foye, like so many other students here, hails from a small town outside of Boston. She attended Marblehead High School, where she first became involved with journalism by working on the student paper, The Headlight. The concept that she could spend her life in journalism didn't immediately strike her, however. "In high school and even in college, I wanted to become a French or English teacher, so I never thought writing and editing for the paper would translate into a career," Foye reveals.
She began applying for jobs before graduation, and was blessed with another stroke of luck just three days prior to commencement. Another editor at Elle called Foye and asked if she would like to spend the summer in Paris interning at elle.com, covering fashion, beauty and lifestyle trends. "Of course I said yes immediately!" Foye says.
Foye was more than happy to return to France, where she had spent her entire junior year with the Hamilton study abroad program. She began her internship in July of 2000, working with a small staff and helping to fill the weekly columns. "I couldn't believe it when they told me I was going to cover the fashion shows and try to get backstage celeb gossip," Foye says. "The most exciting shows were probably a Valentino show at the Louvre, where Gisele Bunchen walked the runway, and a Karl Lagerfeld show. No one had smart phones or even phones with texting capability back then, so I can remember trying to beat the other writers onto the Paris metro to get back to the offices to get the write-ups online as quickly as possible."
Unfortunately, Foye was laid off from elle.com in May 2001 when the dot-com bubble burst the first time. While searching for a new job, Foye often felt defeated. "I applied for so many jobs, and most never called me back for an interview. I made some embarrassing missteps at interviews, like wearing a boring black suit to a Harper's Bazaar interview, and had started to lose all hope, when, finally, an editorial assistant job opened at Woman's Day, and I got it!"
Getting a job was only half the battle, however. Foye, new to city life, quickly learned how to make the most of her paycheck. She began living with roommates in apartments found on craigslist.com, eating food from the Woman's Day test kitchen and taking a part-time job in a wine store. "While I can still feel that nervous tingle of anxiety I'd get the moment the rent bill would arrive each month, it taught me some important lessons in making the most of your paycheck."
Foye now works at Seventeen, helping launch multi-platform projects and assisting in overseeing the features staff. She loves to work on articles that help inspire confidence in teen girls, and she often gets to incorporate her own life experiences into her articles. "I oversee the Seventeen Body Peace Project, a column and online campaign aimed to help girls stop obsessing about their bodies and start respecting them for all that they do. I had to think about what it's like to worry about your body, and what guys, friends [and] parents think. You have to soul search a little."
Foye also makes it clear that not all the articles have such a serious tone. "Some are just pure fun--like our health and fitness pages! We like to say that writing for Seventeen is like having Red Bull and Oreos." She even gets some celebrity sightings in the office. "I don't handle the cover stories, but we always see celebs in and out of the office. Most recently, the cast of Twilight has been through--exciting!"
Despite her exciting career, Foye still recalls the fateful day she made her decision to attend the College: "I was looking for a small liberal arts school, not in a city, and when I visited on a cold day in February, as I drove up the hill, the white snow seemed to glimmer." Foye was also attracted to the College's study abroad program, already knowing that she wanted to travel to France.
Soon after coming to the Hill her freshman year, Foye joined the Echo. "I knew I wanted to get involved in an extra-curricular activity at college, and writing articles for the Echo seemed like a natural fit, allowing me to write and learn more about everything going on on campus."
While at the Echo, Foye wrote articles on a variety of topics. She covered issues such as bringing more multiculturalism to campus, an uptick in local chain restaurants and trend stories. "I wrote about a debate on campus about whether to continue using 2-ply toilet paper or switch to single-ply. The title of the story was 'Y-2 PLY?' as a play on the millennium computer meltdown 'Y-2K,'--so bad!" Foye says. "If I remember correctly, most students were in favor of the softer 2-ply toilet paper, but now, with eco-consciousness on everyone's minds, I bet they'd prefer the former." Those trend pieces were a prelude to Foye's later work in the magazine world.
Coming from a small town, Foye now loves her life in the Big Apple. "I love that it's constantly changing, and always exciting, but you do have to be flexible and adaptable in order to live here. And that's probably the best piece of advice I can give to anyone looking to begin their career in media. Throw out all the rules you've ever heard, and get ready to adapt, change, be flexible in your career path and make sure you're ready to come prepared with big ideas."
So what advice does she have for those preparing to leave the Hill within the next few years? "The thought of entering the working world can seem scary, but I like to think that hard times help you discover what's truly important to you and what you can let go of. Since there are relatively fewer jobs out there for recent college grads at the moment, you'll be forced to get creative and dig deep to unearth your own core strengths and passions that can give you the competitive advantage--which has the unintended benefit of landing you in a place where you'll probably be happier and thrive, instead of just taking the first job that's offered to you with a high paycheck."
She also encourages the younger generation to take advantage of our knowledge of technology and use it to prove to employers how we can make it work for them in this day and age. From her own experiences, Foye says the most important thing is to take action. "The one rule that's always served me is to create a vision--or even a vision board--of what would excite you, and then take one action each day, big or small, toward your goal." Foye plans on continuing to work at Seventeen, helping with programs that "can actually help change girls' beliefs, attitudes and ideas, and send them on a bigger, better path than they'd ever thought possible."