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Hana Hong

As a news-editorial journalism major, the safety of words always brought me solace and sanctuary. While other kids lived out their childhoods through porcelain dolls and blipping game cubes, I found comfort hiding behind a computer monitor and submerging myself into a blinking cursor on Microsoft Word. Stepping out of this reclusive shell took just one elegant dress, a classy pair of heels and a swab of lipstick. Although writing is my mantra, fashion became my voice. Hence, I knew from a very young age that I wanted to fuse my two favorite passions and adopt a career in fashion journalism.


However, I found myself stranded in the middle of a cornfield (otherwise known as Champaign, Illinois) throughout my college career. Even though I was rather self-conscious of the fact that I was the only girl in the entire institution that wore chunky Louboutin platforms to class (you can never be overdressed or overeducated, as Oscar Wilde brilliantly stated), my avid enthusiasm – mingled with a stark fear of failure – propelled me to overwork and achieve a plethora of things where I was planted. Using this morale, I was exposed to unbelievable opportunities: graduating from Teen Vogue Fashion University, producing four local fashion shows, achieving leadership editor positions at five campus magazines, and freelancing/interning for InStyle Magazine. Last year, I was named president of JAMS (Journalism Advertising Media Students), the largest media organization on campus.


Regardless, the nagging notion from professors and counselors that journalism (and fashion) were near impossible industries to break berated my spirit like a mental pestilence. What good were my efforts if I was so stranded from the industry itself? Twiddling my thumbs to lectures in an ivory tower wasn’t going to get me anywhere.


So when word of ASME began floating around my college campus in freshman year, I instantly leaped at the opportunity. Initially, I was rather bummed to hear there were no fashion magazines participating this year, but upon seeing Reader’s Digest on the list, my excitement surged. My nose was always either buried in my closet or a book, so seeing a company so founded in literary prominence was wonderfully ideal.


Luckily, my high expectations were not disappointed. The people at Reader’s Digest are some of the most wonderful coworkers I have had the pleasure to work alongside, and I’ve been treated just like any other staff member. Although the work never ends and my desk resembles a Post-It crime scene, I relish in my lengthy to-do list and sense of productivity. I am given abundant opportunities to expand my writing portfolio (I write around 4-5 articles a week), help scout books for the books editor, assist (and participate!) in photoshoots and help work on various print projects. They have even set up various one-on-ones with pretty much anyone I desired, even the EIC, and I have been able to get to know almost everyone in the office on a conversable basis. Most importantly, I have been granted insight on all aspects of the magazine and what makes it a successful business. Even though their secluded office location in White Plains mandates my getting up at 5 AM and getting back at 7, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else; the opportunities I am given and the skill set I have molded is worth some slight sleep deprivation times twofold. (Chugging three cups of extensively caffeinated coffee a day helps with that).

And luckily, my fashion cravings have not been smothered entirely; ASME was gracious enough to set me up with the most incredible mentor – and beauty expert – from Allure Magazine. With the combination of my mentor, Reader’s Digest and ASME’s assistance, I have been able to rendezvous with some of the most incredible editors throughout the industry over the course of the summer. Moreover, my bolstered confidence makes me ecstatic to fully plunge into this career path, and although my rural background may be more idyllic than those of most places, that will not damper my journalistic drive nor hinder me from executing the art of storytelling as seen through my eyes.


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