How I got that job: Ross Pfund

  • Updated: December 28, 2006 - 4:03 PM

Ross Pfund got his start at Minnesota Law & Politics magazine as an intern. Today he’s a senior editor who looks for interns to hire.

Job: Senior editor for Minnesota Law & Politics, a magazine that publishes every two months. Its slogan: "Only our name is boring."

What do you do? I do a lot of working with copy for the magazine. I work with freelancers and am in charge of our internship program, which includes looking for interns and hiring them. I also work with other editors to come up with and develop story ideas, and help plan future issues.

Time on the job: Almost four years. I started as an intern in 2003, then right after I graduated I started full-time. I was lucky, because just as I was graduating the company was expanding and they needed help.

Education: Bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

Previous experience: I grew up in northwestern Minnesota, where my family owns and operates a regional weekly called the Norman County Index. I grew up around the newspaper and helped out when I was a kid. I still write a column for the newspaper.

How did your internship help you get the job? That's the way it goes. Internships are the real path to staff positions at magazines. Of our seven or eight editors, about five or six of us were former interns at the magazine. It's a good way for magazines to see what you can do and a way to get a foot in the door.

How did you find the internship? Through one of my friends at college ... [who] was doing the Law & Politics internship. He said I should do it. That's the way our internships have been -- it's always been a word-of-mouth thing.

What about social networking? It's huge. Everyone I know who has a magazine job got it because they made connections. You don't really think about it at the time, but it's important to develop relationships with your classmates.

Internship advice: Be reliable and put in the hours even though you aren't getting much monetary gain from it. It goes a long way and the people in charge notice it.

Favorite magazine, besides Minnesota Law & Politics: The Atlantic.

Did you have to know a lot about law and politics? I wasn't a big political junkie before and I didn't have a lot of legal knowledge, but those are things you can learn on the job. We aren't really a trade magazine; we're more of a profile magazine, so everything we write about has a strong story component to it. As long as you like stories and find politics and legal stuff remotely interesting it's a great job.

Hobbies: I'm on a kickball team in the summer. I like to play guitar and I enjoy camping.

What have you learned about law and politics? A lot of crazy things happen. We do an annual feature called "lawsuits of the year" where we round up the year's funniest or most noteworthy lawsuits. I never would have learned about how Mr. T sued Best Buy or the security guard who sued Marilyn Manson.

Insider tip: This might be a big step, but every magazine professional I know is more than willing to have coffee with a student. I never did this -- I was either too gun-shy or didn't think any magazine editor would want to take a half-hour to talk about their job -- but now I know how impressive it is when a prospective intern asks for an informational interview.

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