Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications - Magazine Journalism + Sociology
Lauren Metz has the kind of job I used to dream of when I was in middle school, high school and yes, even college. Her daily routine consists of interviewing the coolest celebs, inspiring teen girls and oh ya, writing about it all. As a freelance entertainment writer and editor Lauren has written for everyone from Seventeen and EOnline.com to AOL's JSYK.com and Moviefone.com. Oh, and if you're a Bravo TV addict, chances are you've read her column, "The Dish." You would think that would keep Lauren more than just a little busy, but don't be fooled. She's taking her love of storytelling and inspiration to a whole new level when she launches Life2PointOh.com in just a few short weeks.
Don't have a job that you're not really enjoying, or one that's not making you happy.
How did you discover your current job?
I started in the magazine/online publishing world immediately after college by first interning and then freelancing for Premiere.com in New York. Within a few months, I landed a full-time position at Seventeen magazine and have been writing relationship, fashion, fitness and entertainment articles ever since.
What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?
I always knew I wanted to be a journalist, so in high school I began interning at the local newspaper (@SoPhReview). By luck, NSYNC (who I was completely obsessed with at the time) was doing press in the area and my editor allowed me to cover their conference for the paper -- even though I was only 15. Armed with my press badge and a photographer by my side, I sat in front of Justin Timberlake and thought, "This is the greatest job in the world, and I’m going to become an entertainment writer." Keeping on that path, I was accepted into Syracuse University’s prestigious Newhouse School and studied magazine journalism. I spent a summer interning at a Hearst magazine and later returned to the company for my first full-time position at Seventeen. Part of my job included setting up “Meet and Greets” -- where actors, bands, etc., would come into the office and tell me about their upcoming projects -- and interviewing celebs on the phone or in person for the magazine.
Over the years I’ve interviewed Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, The Jonas Brothers, Cory Monteith of "Glee", Amanda Seyfried, Jordin Sparks, Hayden Panettiere, Leighton Meester, Chelsea Handler and countless others for numerous national media outlets.
Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?
I interviewed E!’s Giuliana Rancic for Seventeen, and she passed along valuable advice that I always keep in the back of my mind: Don’t have a job that you’re not really enjoying, or one that’s not making you happy. That played a big part in creating Life2PointOh.com. It’s a site launching in a few weeks that I co-founded with a former colleague, Julie Miller, that targets young women in their 20's and early 30's who are still “figuring out” their lives. Friends would often gripe to me about their jobs because I seemed so content with my career path. Giuliana’s words are true -- you deserve much more than spending 40+ hours a week feeling “stuck” in your job.
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
It changes constantly! One day last September I covered Fashion Week for EOnline in the morning, and that afternoon launched my TV column for AOL called “Lounging with Lauren.” Not every day is quite so eventful, but I’ll often need to cover events or interview talent. As a freelancer, I love having the opportunity to work with many outlets and take on a few projects at once. I recently finished contributing to a fashion book, and it was a great experience dabbling in that side of publishing.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love hearing from readers who say something I wrote changed their lives for the better. I worked with Caitlin Beadles (Justin Bieber’s ex-girlfriend) to tell her incredible story of being hit by a boat while swimming, pronounced dead and overcoming unimaginable odds. I received so many tweets and there were so many comments from readers telling me how inspired (and teary-eyed!) they felt after reading her story. Also, I remember a Seventeen reader once wrote to the magazine to say how much she was absolutely dreading her first day of high school, but because of a story I wrote that listed numerous tips and tricks for the new kid, she found a sense of confidence and was no longer afraid -- but excited -- for her first day. Those quick emails and tweets that let me know my writing is helping somebody somewhere make my job completely satisfying.
What is the most challenging part?
The balancing act! Right now, I’m juggling my freelance assignments along with getting Life2PointOh off the ground. Some mornings I wake up and think, "OK, who do I work for today?" Thankfully I’m a crazy-organized person or it would be pretty easy to get lost in all the meetings, emails, spreadsheets, interviews, etc.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
There are definitely times when I can’t make family parties or cancel plans with friends last-minute because I need to cover an event or have a major deadline approaching. As I get closer to Life2PointOh’s launch in just a few weeks, it feels like my laptop is literally glued to my hip! It can be difficult at times to balance your social life when you don’t have a day job with set hours, but thankfully those closest to me are supportive and understanding.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
“To be a great interviewer, you must first be a great listener.” I go into interviews well-prepared, but often I don’t stick to the questions I wrote down. Instead, I focus my attention on what someone is saying and let their responses steer our conversation.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
In recent years, many reputable magazines have folded. The publishing world is shifting, and today's editors need to not only be great writers, but also understand Web components like SEO and social media. It’s easy to become a dinosaur if you don’t keep up with emerging platforms!
Who are your role models?
My career crushes are definitely E!’s Giuliana Rancic, because she’s a powerhouse both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes, and Kristin Dos Santos, because her writing is always so lively and packed with personality.
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
Yes, there are two. U2’s “Beautiful Day” contains the lyrics: "What you don't have, you don't need it now. What you don't know, you can feel it somehow." It’s true: Trust your gut and instincts to lead you in the right career direction, and don’t fret over the things that you cannot control.
The second is a quote by Maya Angelou: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This quote is the reason Life2PointOh will have a designated “Give Happiness” section; I strongly believe that it’s more important to be a good person than to have an amazingly successful career.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
If you’re still in college, intern, intern, intern! This industry is based on recommendations, so keep in touch with your editors every few months so you’re on their radar when there’s an opening. If you’ve already graduated, go to ed2010.com and sign up for their 60-Minute Mentors program.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
When choosing a career path or deciding if you should switch gears, first ask yourself, "What am I passionate about?" The first thing that pops into your head should steer your job search. Also, don’t let the fear of failure keep you from chasing after your goals. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a big dream, so sit down and create a step-by-step plan for achieving it. You may not follow that exact path, but seeing that it is possible will give you a push and keep you motivated. If you need more advice about career (or life in general!), check out Life2PointOh.com next month or tweet me @itslaurlaur.