In honor of it being my last day of being seventeen years old, I am interviewing the lovely Meaghan O'Connor of...Seventeen Magazine! For the past year, Meaghan has been Assistant to Editor-in-Chief, Ann Shoke, and has gained pretty amazing insight, knowledge, and experiences! Meaghan was so gracious to answer my questions. Make sure to scroll below to follow her on social media! 

How did you end up working at Seventeen? It’s a fun story, actually! The summer after my sophomore year in college at the University of Michigan (go blue!), I interned for Food Network Magazine (another Hearst title) in the Marketing department. While I was living in the city for that internship, I attended the annual Her Campus Conference, which is an incredible way for New York interns interested in Fashion/Media/Writing to get their foot in the door and network with professionals in various different fields. Ann Shoket, my future boss, was the keynote speaker at the conference and her assistant happened to be sitting in the back. When Ann was done speaking, she asked if anyone had any questions. While everyone else hesitated, I was one of the first to raise my hand. I told her that my parents and friends had expressed concerns about me pursuing a career in magazine journalism, since it’s an industry going through a lot of transition. She asked me if I wanted to videotape her answer to show my parents. (I said of course!) So that day I videotaped one of my role models telling me that 1) people are always going to need/want good content to consume, and 2) people are always going to need to be on the back end to create that content and tell good stories. The medium may shift and change, but the essence of good storytelling skills would always remain the same. (After seeing the video, my parents were convinced!) After Ann answered my question, I went up to introduce myself, and she told me to introduce myself to her assistant as well. I managed to get her contact info and keep in touch while I went back to school for my final junior/senior year. A year later, when I heard Ann’s assistant was moving on to a new opportunity, I reached out and she told me to come in for an interview! After that, it was just convincing everyone else on the team that this was where I belonged. Easy, since working at Seventeen has been my dream since high school!

Describe your daily routine. Oh boy! No day is ever the same… especially since I live in New York, but I’ll try! I’m a morning person, so I typically wake up early around 6am to workout first thing in the morning. I just finished training for a half marathon, so this fall I spent a lot of mornings running in Central Park. If I’m not running, or on my days off, I hit the gym. After that, I get into the office around 8:30 or 9am to start answering emails and tackling work assignments. Day to day, I’m managing a workload of research requests for our Features editors, managing our team of interns, keeping the office organized, and securing a ton of freebies for our monthly freebies calendar. I’m usually pretty busy and generally work through lunch, but if I get a chance to pop out I typically frequent Hale & Hearty or Balducci’s (when I’m feeling healthy) or Chipotle (when I just need a burrito, guacamole and tortilla chips). I usually leave work anywhere from 6-7pm and then either hit a yoga or Pilates class, grab drinks/dinner with friends, or head home and cook dinner for myself. I love to unwind by either reading or watching my favorite shows on Hulu and cooking dinner for myself --- so relaxing! It’s really important to me to keep work/life balance at the center of my life, along with making regular time for exercise. If I work too hard or forget to take care of myself, it takes a physical toll on my body!

What is your favorite part about your job? Least favorite? It keeps me on my toes, which I definitely think is my favorite part! I’m never doing the same thing every day and there is so much opportunity to have fun with the things I’m doing (who else gets to go to a Pretty Little Liars finale premiere party and call it work?!)… which is so important if you’re ever really going to enjoy your job! I hate picking a least favorite! But if I had to pick one, it’d probably be doing expenses. I’m not a math person. But everyone has to do them, so they’re unavoidable and just part of working in general. 

Meaghan with Shay Mitchell

You have what many people would consider a dream job. What is your biggest piece of advice to those trying to make it in the professional world? My biggest piece of advice is to never let anyone else tell you that you can’t do something. If you want something, go after it! And I mean that, go after it with your whole heart and make it happen. And that also goes along with something I’m learning myself lately, and that’s to go with your heart and trust your gut. Especially when you’re young in your career and can afford to make mistakes and try everything. If your heart is telling you to pursue an opportunity, it’s probably the decision you want to make!

What keeps you inspired? The people in my life, for one. I’m so, so grateful to have such an incredible network of family and friends who inspire me to keep chasing my dreams and who would definitely support any career decision I make. But I’m also inspired daily by listening to music, looking at blogs (I’m a huge fan of food blogs!), and reading lots and lots of magazines. I also have a wide array of wall art in my bedroom with inspiring quotes and reminders. I love words in general, and cheesy quotes, too! I actually scribble inspirational quotes in my planner every week to help me set goals and keep focused.

Any tips for living in New York City? Whew! One of my favorite subjects because I’ve already learned so much about life and about myself living here for a year and a half. I’d say two things… The first is that budgeting is so important. New York is a really expensive city, and if you let your finances get out from under you it can be really overwhelming and you can dig yourself into a hole pretty quickly. Learn to limit yourself to the essentials (especially for the first few years!), and know that you’re going to spend a lot of money on food and rent… and that’s just the way it goes! The second is that New York can be a really lonely place, especially if you don’t find activities and other things to keep you fulfilled outside of work. I’m really lucky to be involved with several organizations and circles of amazing individuals who make living here a lot more fun and a lot less lonely! The people I know in New York (all hard-working, inspired, dedicated and motivated people) are the reason I enjoy living here so much.

Describe your 17-year-old self. I was the shy, smart girl, who had a close circle of girlfriends in high school. I was super motivated to get into a good school, so I focused on getting good grades and being involved in a variety of different things. I was on the varsity volleyball team for three years, a leader in Student Government, a member of the National Honor Society and very active in YoungLife. I’ve always really enjoyed writing and reading, and have had big dreams to change the world and make a difference ever since I was young!

Meaghan with Janel Parrish 

You also have a passion for blogging. What inspired you to start My Big Dreams Big City? I started the blog during my first internship in New York, primarily so that close friends and family could keep track of me during that summer and read about the kinds of stuff I was doing (it was all foreign to them!). I ended up talking a lot more generally about falling in love with New York City and pursuing my big dreams than just talking about my internship, so it ended up turning into a larger narrative about what it means to be in living on your own, in a huge city, working in a highly competitive and exciting industry, all while balancing other things in life and enjoying the little moments, too. It’s kind of like my diary, but also a chance to help other small-town girls understand and realize that they can do anything they set their minds to… my story is proof!

What has been your biggest "pinch me" moment? My first day on the job! Everything that happened that day was a pinch me moment. I still remember my first ride up the escalator that morning. I kept repeating to myself over and over, “this is really happening, this is really happening…” To be honest, I don’t remember much about what I did that first day, just that I was incredibly excited to be here. I was probably smiling all day!

During the weekend, my favorite thing to do is… a long, leisurely run in Central Park with a friend, followed by a HUGE brunch (blueberry pancakes!), an afternoon of reading/blogging, and then cooking a new recipe from one of my favorite food blogs for dinner.

Thank you so much to Meaghan for being Practically Imperfect's very first interview! Since this interview, she has transitioned to another brand within the Hearst family and is now an Editorial Assistant at Food Network Magazine. Congratulations, MeaghanYou can find her on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or on her blog. I hope this interview inspired you to work hard, stay passionate, and live your dreams like it did for me! 

1 comment

  1. I LOVE this interview! I always find it so interesting to read about people doing what I hope to do someday! Great job Hannah!