Spotlight Interview: Megan O’Sullivan

Megan O’Sullivan: Engagement Editor, Lonny Magazine

San Francisco, CA

WFU Class of 2015

Major: Business Administration with Arts Marketing Concentration

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Megan O’Sullivan shares the experiences beyond Wake Forest that led to her current position as the Engagement Editor at Lonny Magazine. The 2015 arts marketing alumni shares the importance of understanding personal strengths and pursuing goals with persistence.

DeacLink: What did you study while at Wake?

Megan O’Sullivan: I studied business, specifically arts marketing. I took this incredible class at Wake that combined business and studio art. As part of the course, we went on a trip to New York over spring break to make gallery and show visits. That class really sparked everything for me.

DL: Since you’ve graduated, how has your career unfolded? Can you walk me through your path from graduation day to your current job?

MO: I started the Executive Development Program at Neiman Marcus after graduating. I always thought I wanted to be working in the retail industry, and the program was awesome because it exposed me to so many different corners of the business. At Neimans I learned what an amazing leader is like — a few are still my mentors today. After a year there, I wanted to learn more about how retail was evolving and changing, so I took a job at Everlane and moved to San Francisco.

Everlane was also an awesome experience, and moving to S.F. is one of the best choices I ever made. At Everlane, I was working in operations and supply chain analytics. It was great to learn about the production side of retail and understand how it touches every part of the business; however, I knew that I would need to flex both my creative and business muscles in my career, and as a supply chain analyst, there is little room for creativity. As a side project, I was interviewing artists in San Francisco and publishing these interviews on a website I created called The Context. While doing this, I couldn’t help but ask myself, why am I not doing this thing that feels much more natural to me?

That led to my career transition into the editorial world. I took a job at Lonny as an Associate Editor, and knew I was in the right place immediately. I really loved (and still love) the team, I love the job every day, and really enjoy getting to cover design and art. Now, as an Engagement Editor at Lonny, I’m managing audience development and social media. I’ve learned so much about the design world, the editorial world, how to manage a brand, and more.

DL: How did you find and apply to the various positions you’ve held (online, inside reference/rec, networking in person, WFU resources, other)?

MO: Networking is so underrated, and strong persistence in following up is even more underrated. Every job I’ve ever had came from finding people on LinkedIn, finding their emails through weird email search engines, cold emailing, following up with people when they don’t answer. Fun fact: I applied to Everlane 3 times before landing a job there. I wrote very persistent emails and tracked people down before I was hired. It works!

DL: What made you want to go into the magazine industry, and what advice do you have for readers interested in breaking into the industry?

MO: I love storytelling, creating content, and great writing. I get joy out of reading great articles that capture a concept or thought or feeling so accurately, so I really enjoy being part of that world. I guess my advice would be: ask yourself why you want to be in the industry, and what exactly you love writing or reading about. Then, find the editors who work in those spaces, and ask if you can freelance (you can do this while you’re a student!). Editorial internships are great too.

I ultimately decided to move away from writing and into social strategy on the marketing team, because there is a part of my brain that really loves being analytical and strategic. So I think it’s important to think about what your natural skills and tendencies are, and what position makes the most sense for you!

DL: What is your favorite part about your job?

MO: Learning about the design world is my most favorite part of my job. To be completely frank, I didn’t know a lot about design before working at Lonny. I love the subject matter and meeting new people within the space, too.

DL: What do you think Wake could have done better to prepare students for life after graduation?

MO: I wish Wake pushed me to think more about my natural skills and tendencies when planning my career. I knew that business school was right for me, but I felt bad about myself when finance and accounting didn’t feel natural to me. What I’ve since learned is — that’s okay! We all have things we are good at, and things we are not so good at. When thinking about your career, lean into the things you are good at.

DL: What attracted you to San Francisco, and how’s it compared to your time in Dallas?

MO: San Francisco is incredibly progressive, in every sense of the word. I feel very stimulated in San Francisco and surrounded by forward-thinking people, both in terms of business and culture. That is all really important to me! Dallas is where I grew up, but personally, I feel much more connected to the mindset here in California.

DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

MO:

  1. Never run from a job, run TO a job.

  2. Think about what job excites you and stimulates you to your core. Some might say that is a very privileged way of thinking, but I truly believe that if we are aligning our careers with our personal values and skills, we are much more likely to be successful (and happy and mentally well!).