Hi, I’m Ashley Flaws, current Drake University junior studying magazine media and English with aspirations to enter the magazine publishing industry upon my early graduation in December 2019. I am currently working as an editorial apprentice for Allrecipes magazine, the leading food media brand in the world. In my first few months, I have attended photo shoots and taste panels, written headlines and intros for articles, edited and fact-checked magazine content and am currently working on a couple of pieces that will give me bylines in the magazine in 2019. I love my new role helping to shape the magazine’s editorial content and hope it is just my first taste of the magazine industry. However, if you were to travel back in time to ask scrawny, eight-year-old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would not have told you a magazine editor; I simply would have told you I wanted to be a writer, which is still true today.
It all started in second grade when we were tasked with a creative writing assignment. Despite limited experience with writing before, I had always been an avid reader and was surprised how easy it was for me to craft my own story about the friendship between a boy and his cat—17 full pages worth. My love for writing officially began and stuck with me all through high school, where I took every English elective possible so I could continue to write, write and write some more. By my senior year, pursuing an English major at Drake University—only an hour away from my hometown of Webster City—was a no-brainer, but the journalist side of me that I didn’t even know I had yet prompted me to pursue a degree in magazine media, as well. I loved the idea of writing content for a brand while still being able to exercise my creativity. Thus, my career as a journalist began.
Flash forward to today, and I am so grateful to both my 8-year-old self and my 17-year-old self for somehow making the exact right decisions to put me in the career path that I am headed toward now. Since starting at Drake, I have enjoyed opportunities to write for Drake Magazine and The Times-Delphic student newspaper; these experiences helped me to gain my first internship outside of Drake for Garden Gate magazine through Active Interest Media. At Garden Gate, I was tasked with formatting previous online and print articles from their magazine for a new online format that would debut with their new website. While I wasn’t writing content for the magazine, I was gaining valuable SEO experience by utilizing key words in headlines and subheads that I wrote for each article.
My next internship opportunity was with the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association as their communications intern, where I was able to write and edit content for their bi-annual magazine and bi-weekly newsletter. I spent summer 2018 writing content for the newsletter, laying out the newsletter on InDesign, editing the final product and sending it out to an audience of around 1,000 members. I also used HTML code to format each article for IADA’s website.
I have learned so many valuable skills throughout my internship experiences and look forward to continuing my apprenticeship with Allrecipes through May 2019. I think it is safe to say I have grown as a writer since I first put pencil to paper to write a story in second grade, but my desire to write has never gone away. I am excited to see what’s next for my writing career in the magazine industry, but I first want to send a shout-out to my eight-year-old self: thank you. Also, beware: you simultaneously get braces, glasses, acne and become socially awkward in just a couple short years, afflictions which—with the exception of braces—plague you well into adulthood. Hey, at least you have straight teeth.