Alumni Spotlight: Pathway to a Cosmopolitan Life

For the second installment in our new “Alumni Spotlight” series, we are excited to share with you an interview by Ryan Adelson, a current student in the NYU MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program, with Jillian Q. Gatcheco, a 2012 alumna. Read on and get inspired!

Jillian-GatchecoThe NYU M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program is honored to have so many outstanding alumni. Among other things, they show us that our career goals are obtainable. In this blog post, Jillian Q. Gatcheco shares with us her experience at NYU and where life has taken her since she completed her studies. Jillian, an international student from the Philippines, graduated in 2012 and was the Recipient of the William Randolph Hearst Endowment for Magazine Media scholarship for excellence in magazine publishing. During her time at NYU, she completed internships at NBC Universal’s iVillage and at Bonnier Corporation’s workingmother.com. Jillian is now living in the Philippines where she is the Editor-in-Chief of cosmo.ph. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jillian and I am eager to share it with you!

Where did you do your undergrad and what did you study?

I studied at the Ateneo de Manila University and majored in Communications Technology Management. It’s actually more of a business degree, but you get to customize the classes according to your interests, and I was able to squeeze in publishing-related electives. I figured a management background would help me with future corporate work, and it actually did, since marketing a brand and producing content are equally important. After four years of working on the website for a local TV network, I moved to New York to enroll in the M.S. in Publishing program.

What made you want to go into publishing?

I have always loved magazines. Growing up, I read my dad’s subscriptions to Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, and National Geographic. I secretly borrowed my sister’s copies of Cosmopolitan when I was 13. I worked on the school newspaper in college, and eventually, I landed my first job as an online entertainment writer for a TV network in Manila.  My interest in publishing started with reading magazines and loving how each one “talked” to me in a different way. You know how you have a go-to friend for every kind of life issue? For me, magazines are like that.

Were you always interested in the magazine side?

Yes, although I initially thought I wanted to work in print magazines right after graduation. It was my first job that ultimately changed my perspective—I loved how digital publishing is so fast-paced and experimental, and how it’s essentially one big lesson in resilience. There’s no formula. Every single day is a challenge and a reward, if you do things right. It was also an opportunity to specialize in something new. I’ve dabbled in print a bit, but it was always digital work that proved to be more exciting for me. And that’s what I’ve been doing for a decade now!

How did the NYU publishing program shape your career?

It definitely opened up opportunities for me in terms of what type of work I could do post-graduation. (P.S. I worked for four years in the Philippines before pursuing the program, and I always say to anyone interested in taking up graduate studies that it will pay off if you get real-life work experience first. That way, you have something more substantial to contribute to class discussions, and you won’t rely solely on books to figure out the material being discussed.)

When I went job-hunting again after graduation, I had a better idea of what I wanted career-wise because of the courses I took in the program. This led me to select opportunities that would cater to what I wanted and where I eventually wanted to go.

The NYU Publishing program is great because it exposes you to print and digital publishing platforms. I knew absolutely nothing about books when I started, and although I wouldn’t pursue [a career in books] professionally, taking Introduction to Book Publishing was such an eye opener for me. I hated Accounting and Finance in college, but since the program required us to take two terms of Multimedia Financial Analysis, I graduated knowing I wasn’t clueless about the business side of the industry. The whole program introduces you to many facets of publishing, so you enter the workforce armed with confidence that you know enough to make a contribution.

What courses did you take that stood out to you?

Desktop Publishing was super useful—I learned the basics of InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. These may be traditional print tools, but anyone working on a website will still be able to use these for sure (and I still do!). In The Role of Video in Publishing, we learned how to produce and edit our own web videos, with our classmates as subjects, which was pretty cool. Editing Creative Content was super hands on—the professor let us edit actual magazine features. Publishing & Internet Law was incredibly useful—you’ll learn about copyright, trademarks, and basically what you can do legally in terms of creating, reproducing, and marketing content. Definitely take Web Analytics if you want to get into digital publishing—what you publish on a daily basis will depend on it!

Did you network while at NYU and did it help with your career?

Of course! My advice: Get an internship for credit if your schedule will allow it. Not only will it give you hands-on experience, you’ll also get to meet industry contacts who can help you get a job (or a recommendation) later on. Take note that I heard about my internship openings (Bonnier’s workingmother.com and at NBC’s now-defunct iVillage.com)  through the Publishing program’s job fairs and Publishing Director Andrea Chambers’ regular email blasts. (Read those, they are useful!). Through my stint at Bonnier, I was able to work as an Assistant Editor for Working Mother magazine (print) for a few months before I went back to Manila.

Do you apply what you learned in your classes at work?

Yes! Everything from using Photoshop to web analytics to figuring out whether something counts as fair usage or not.

What positions have you held since graduating?

I became Cosmopolitan Philippines’ online Managing Editor in 2012, and got promoted to Editor-In-Chief of the website by the end of 2014. I also mentor five other websites under Summit Media, our parent company, as a Digital Team Editor. On the side, I have edited two books—a celebrity beauty book and a novelty booklet featuring tweets of a Filipino personality. You can say I’ve been pretty immersed in print and online publishing for the past 3 years since I returned to Manila!

Can you walk me through a day for you at the office?

I am at the office by 9 a.m., the cosmo.ph team pitches stories for the day which I approve or tweak, then we publish at least four to five stories before lunch. The team and I are super close, so we usually end up eating lunch together and talking about the funniest stuff we saw on Facebook that we more often than not end up writing about. The majority of my day is spent checking trending stories online, monitoring Google Analytics to see if we’re performing well, and editing same-day features written by the team. We prioritize breaking news, so everything stops if a famous celebrity dies, gives birth, or gets married! In between, I either attend press junkets or go to multiple meetings. Some days, we do photo shoots or videos. Others, it’s a lot of data reporting to top management. It’s always different, and it always involves multitasking. I probably have at least 10 tabs open on my computer browser at any given time—and that’s the minimum!

How is Cosmopolitan in the Philippines the same as the US and how does it differ from the US market?

I get this question a lot—people think that our version of Cosmo is tamer in terms of sex and relationship content, especially since the Philippines is a largely Catholic (and therefore, conservative) country. But our sex stories actually do extremely well! The only difference is Pinays (Filipino women) are not as vocal as Americans in general when it comes to liking or sharing on social media—so they’d click the story and read it, but they won’t necessarily like or share it. This insight is crucial when it comes to determining how to package our content.

As in the US, we want our readers to make smart decisions that will empower them. cosmo.ph advocates that Filipino women be proactive about their reproductive health in a nation where artificial birth control is shunned by the Church and conversations about HPV, rape, and abortion are considered taboo.  But the fact that our stories on these topics are “secretly” being read (They aren’t necessarily shared publicly, but we see the results via page views) means that Pinays want to learn about them. Sure, we write about the Kardashians and how to nail the perfect cat eye and 13 Signs Your Sex Life Could Be Better. But there are moments when you get reader feedback on a story you’ve done on empowering women, and you know in your heart you’re fighting the good fight—in heels, no less!

Side note: Like our US counterpart, cosmo.ph also aims to be the top website for millennial women. And this means covering a variety of topics—not just sex and relationships. We want the Cosmo Girl to be well-rounded, smart, fun, and ready for anything life throws at her.

Do you have a favorite section or specific story from cosmo.ph?

Here are a few of my favorites (there are so many!):

What advice would you give to current students in the MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program?

Don’t take it for granted. The program offers so many opportunities to network, intern, and advance your career—take advantage of them! Attend those industry events and seminars! Apply for scholarships every term! Sign up for volunteer work at book fairs! Also, work hard for those grades, because your teacher might actually be your next boss—or your ticket to your next job.

Interview by Ryan Adelson

Photo by Jico Joson 

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