I've had a rash of emails recently from people who are feeling defeated in their hunt for a job – who are becoming disenchanted with the magazine biz. At times like these, it helps to have a mentor to turn to. It was one of my own mentors who reminded me of this when I asked him whether he had advice I could pass on to these editor/writer hopefuls. Having someone who understands the business and knows your history, talents and goals, someone who can provide you with tailor-made advice and encouragement, who can guide you through your career – this is invaluable.
So where do you find one? Look around you. Perhaps there's already a more senior person you've worked with, with whom you've clicked. If not, keep an eye out for people who are especially kind or interested in what you're working on. Developing this type of relationship takes time and should develop naturally – you'll pick them up in school and through your early career. To nurture this type of connection, ask advice when you need it – people are generally flattered to be asked and are usually happy to help out. Be sure to always thank them for their advice and let them know if it helped you land that job or primo assignment. Put them on your Christmas card list and email them articles you think they might be interested in. However you do it, stay in touch. Weekly updates aren't necessary, but a kind hello a few times a year is good.