The single largest specter hanging over every college graduate’s head is the fear of unemployment. Especially for those pursuing creative careers, trying to find a job after graduation (let alone one you actually want) is daunting and at times seems impossible. However, one wouldn’t know this talking to Megan Lasher ’15, who went from graduating last May to becoming a full-time staff member at TIME magazine in the matter of a year. Lasher discussed with the Echo how she made it to TIME and shared some insight on how to prepare for the impending postgrad job panic.
Lasher has always loved writing, but didn’t consider it as a professional pursuit until meeting Special Advisor to the President and former professor in the English Department Jenny Boylan: “Taking Fiction [Writing] with Jenny Boylan really empowered me to write every day and begin a career that involved writing.” From that point, Lasher joined the Echo staff and later started contributing to Elite Daily and the Huffington Post on a regular basis. In addition to writing outside of class, Lasher was engaged in a diverse range of activities while at Colby: she was a tour guide for admissions, a Colby Cares About Kids (CCAK) mentor, a member of the Oak student board and a singer for Ethnic Vocal Ensemble (EVE). Lasher also has a passion for film, and created an independent major in Cinema Studies with Associate Professor of Cinema Studies Steve Wurtzler alongside her preexisting major in Mathematics.
Lasher, originally from Denver, CO, spent little time at home between school years. For two consecutive summers she lived in New York City, interning first at a “Devil Wears Prada” like Public Relations (PR) firm, and in the following summer at the popular children’s television network Nickelodeon. After these experiences, living and working in New York became Lasher’s post grad goal.
During her senior year, Lasher applied to the Columbia Publishing Course (CPC), an intensive summer program offered through the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and began immediately after graduating from the Hill. Through CPC, Lasher gained a comprehensive introduction to the world of print media in a rigorous and hasty environment. “We had fantastic guest speakers every day and then two week-long workshops—one for books, one for magazines—where we created our own publishing companies and worked with professionals to fine-tune our projects,” she said. While CPC was not an easy experience, Lasher has no regrets about the course. “It was absolutely the best decision I’ve ever made because it gave me a network of young media professionals and taught me so many things about the industry.”
After graduating from CPC, Lasher was eager to begin a career in New York City. “CPC ended in July, and I spent every day in August applying to jobs and doing lots of freelance writing. No kidding, I think I sent out at least 200 applications and I have about 25 different cover letter templates still saved to my computer. I went on interviews and networking dates and the whole shebang, up until I got an offer from International Business Times to be their Social Media Fellow,” Lasher said.
Lasher started working at IBTimes on September 3; the same week she moved into her apartment in Manhattan and was promoted to Audience Development Manager in November. Lasher remained at the IBTimes for a few months but felt somewhat limited by her opportunities there, so she decided to move on. She applied for a position at TIME magazine through a connection with the CPC network, and was hired immediately after her interview.
Much like her time at the College, Lasher maintains a variety of roles at TIME. “I’m a Content Producer at TIME.com, but my role changes a lot so I’ve been able to wear a lot of hats here. I run social media for LIFE magazine and spend most of my day producing articles for TIME and packaging them for search engines/social media.” Beyond her role as Content Producer, Lasher was a part of the team that launched Motto, TIME’s new media site geared toward the empowerment of millennial women. “Launching Motto was the highlight of my career so far. We’ve had articles from Barack Obama, [model] Cara Delevingne, [chef and television personality] Ina Garten, and tons more, and I feel lucky to be able to learn from my bosses who all do these incredible interviews with such a sense of professionalism and passion.”
While it may seem that Lasher’s expedient start to her career came with ease, it wasn’t without ample preparation and long-term goal setting. “I didn’t just land at TIME right after graduation, and I think that’s something important to note. Colby students graduate with great educations and (hopefully) great resumes, but you’re not going to snap your fingers and have a job by June 1, especially if you’re going into a creative industry. It takes work to build a network and meet people, and sometimes you have to take a job that isn’t necessarily your dream job before you can really know what you want and who you want to work with.” Lasher started developing her professional network as a student, keeping in touch with people she met at summer internships and taking advantage of the Colby alumni network.
“I think my advice to any Colby student looking for a job is to do right now what you plan to do in your career. If you want to be a teacher, volunteer in classrooms. If you want to be a filmmaker, rent a camera and put together a film. If you want to write, don’t wait until you work for a big name publication: submit to the Echo and make your own blog.”