Allyson Johnson is a senior editorial project manager at National Geographic Books. A University of Maryland graduate (Go TERPS!), she previously worked at Rachael Ray Every Day magazine and has been published in USA Weekend, Brides.com, Brit + Co., among other publications. She’s the master of getting involved and started her hustle early on while in college.
As a journalism major, Allyson reached out to the internship coordinator to learn about local opportunities and snagged a position with On Tap magazine. While her role never strayed into the complex–mainly updating events calendars, small writing pieces, an environmental taxi cab article–the internship allowed her to get an early foot in the door.
Meanwhile, Allyson took advantage of on campus opportunities writing for UMD’s magazine, Unwind, in which she featured interviews with fellow students. But she wasn’t finished building her journalism experiences outside the classroom as she went on to apply for any position or program that came her way. “You never know what you’re going to like and what you’re going to be good at,” said Allyson.
This mindset landed her positions as a writer for both USA Weekend magazine and College Magazine where she landed her first celebrity interview and gained experience editing.
Allyson even applied to the American Society of Magazine Editors. This highly competitive program accepts a mere 40 students from applicants all across the country, sending them on their way to live in New York as they work a magazine internship.
Accepted to the program, Allyson interned at Rachael Ray magazine. Demonstrating that extra drive in any challenge she came across, Allyson was offered a position at the magazine before she had even graduated college.
Right off the bat, she was working at a lifestyle magazine that she loved and remained for the next five years. Allyson never had a dull day at Rachel Ray from writing articles on finding the best bubble gum flavored cocktails to travel pieces.
The only downfall to this bubble-popping wonderland fell within the predictable seasonal structure of topics she would cover each year. “I was running out of ways to carve pumpkins…and I was thinking, what’s my next move,” she said.
Allyson decided to pursue her next career opportunity at National Geographic. The image of the yellow boarded magazines spread across a table at her childhood home drove her to apply for a position as writer on the travel team. Unfortunately, in the case of her application to the travel branch, the reigns slipped from her grasp in the form of a rejection due to recent cutbacks.
“There are rejections along the way. I’ve been rejected plenty of times. It’s part of life. It only helps you figure out where it is you want to be and what work you have to do to get there.”
Even with this setback though, she decided to apply to another position at National Geographic in their books department. She got the gig.
“Really striving to reach the places that you want to be in, you’ll find a spot for you out there…as long as you are willing to put in the work, you’ll get there.”
All of these circumstances led Allyson to an unexpected position at her dream publication. Find out how Allyson went from magazine journalism to learning the business and editing process for books in the full podcast interview. “While I’m stationed at my desk and not about to be two feet from a shark every five seconds, I feel like I get to take what I love doing and marry that with this thing that gives back to the world in that way and that’s really what I’m passionate about doing,” she said.
After listening to Allyson’s story, get started on your own passion career journey today. How? Be brave and make the ask of a friend or a mentor like Allyson did with her internship coordinator.
Subscribe and download my podcast interview with Allyson here on iTunes!
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