Whether you want to be an astronaut, novelist, photographer or you have no idea yet, there’s something cathartic in hearing about the multitude of winding paths. That’s why Man Repeller launched a series wherein various team members answer your career questions — anything from how they got to where they are to what they wish they’d done differently to what they still hope to do. There’s always a lesson to be learned somewhere or, at the very least, relief in knowing that it’s more than okay if you’re still figuring it out. Mallory, Haley and Crystal have already answered your burning career Qs, and up this time is MR’s new Managing Editor, Gyan Yankovich. Below, she introduces herself and answers some of the questions recently posed to her on Instagram.
You’re the managing editor! What does that mean?
My main responsibility is overseeing our editorial calendar. I spend a large chunk of the month working super closely with Mallory and Haley, making sure we have the perfect mix of content coming up each day/week/month. I set a lot of deadlines, schedule a lot of meetings, and own a lot of Google Docs and Sheets. I also write for the site as much as I can.
How did you get started in your career?
On my first day of university, my journalism course coordinator told our entire class, The industry is dying! Half of you will end up working in PR! I had no idea what this “PR” was, but it didn’t sound good. So from that day on, I started trying to get my foot in the door of a magazine.
After many unanswered emails, I eventually landed a week of work experience at Cosmopolitan Australia. I wasn’t in a place (geographically or financially) to do an official internship, but started going into the office for a day or two whenever they needed me—this often meant spending seven hours on a train to do eight hours of unpaid work.
A few months in, they were hiring an Editorial Coordinator and asked if I was interested. I’d just turned 19 and was in my second year of uni. So I switched to going to school part-time, moved to Sydney, and studied by distance while working full-time for the next three years.
And then what?
I stayed at Cosmo for two and a half years, and did a lot of growing up there. My housemate at the time had my dream job: beauty writer at Dolly, Australia’s best-selling teen mag. When she got offered a position at another magazine, I emailed her editor straight away and snuck up to their floor for an interview. I got the job, and to this day, believe I’ll never have a job as fun as that one.
A year later, Dolly was merged with Cleo, an iconic Cosmo-like magazine, and I was lucky to get the position of Beauty Editor across both titles. But eventually, I started to get a little bored of beauty, and was terrified about working in print when magazines were dying, so I started thinking about my next move. When I saw that BuzzFeed was advertising for Staff Writer roles in Sydney, I applied, interviewed, and… didn’t get it.
A few months later, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed Australia got back in touch to tell me they were looking to hire a Lifestyle Editor and encouraged me to apply. I did and this time it was the right fit. I stayed there for a little over two years, then I decided to leave—the job and the country. My boyfriend and I had been planning, and saving, to move overseas for years, and it was time. We went to Japan, drove around the US in a van, and went to South America. While I was traveling, a tarot card reader (not kidding) told me I should start looking for jobs in New York if I wanted to end up there. That night I looked on the BuzzFeed jobs page and saw they’d posted the perfect job listing…three days prior. I emailed some people I knew from the New York office, had four video interviews, and was offered the role while I was backpacking in Chile.
I was Senior Lifestyle Editor at BuzzFeed in New York until the company cut 15% of their staff. My entire team was laid-off. And so, after almost four years at BuzzFeed, my time came to an end and—spoiler alert—I ended up at Man Repeller.
But how exactly did you end up at Man Repeller?
As I started looking for a new job, I remembered a list I’d written back in 2016 when I was dreaming of my New York move titled “Career Goals.” It was an obnoxiously short list of places I wanted to work in New York, and on that list was Man Repeller. I headed to the jobs page, saw they were looking for a Managing Editor, and applied. After my first phone interview I wrote “Managing Editor, Man Repeller” on a Post-It and stuck it above my desk in an attempt to manifest my way to the only job that sounded better than the one I’d just lost. Four interviews and an edit test later, I was offered the position.
What was it like moving to the US from Australia?
There’s no place quite like New York City and there’s no media company quite like Man Repeller—and here I am living inside both. Being here honestly feels like the best kind of fever dream. Logistically, moving countries is tough. I’m exceptionally lucky as an Australian with a university degree to be eligible for a non-immigrant visa, but the visa process is still immensely stress-inducing.
Okay, now, let’s get into the questions readers submitted on Instagram!
“What advice do you have for a fresh-out-of-college writer who doesn’t want to jeopardize her voice to fit a brand but also desperately wants to break into the digital media industry in any way she can?”
Rethink what it means to jeopardize your voice. I’ve written for mainstream women’s mags, BuzzFeed, and now Man Repeller, and for each publication I’ve used a different voice—each has been a version of my own, sure, but part of being a successful writer is knowing how to write for the tone and audience of every publication. Being able to adjust your writing voice is a skill that editor’s notice and appreciate. This is not to say that you can’t be funny, smart, and true to yourself in your writing, but being able to flex different writing muscles when needed is a valuable skill. That said, there is a line, and I don’t think any media job is worth feeling morally or ethically compromised.
“Any advice for taking a two- to three-month career break? And general feelings about doing so?”
Remember that, in the grand scheme of things, three months isn’t a long time. I was so worried that stepping away from the industry would weaken my connections and make it hard for me to find a job again, but the truth is that nobody really even notices you’re gone. For me, taking a six-month break gave me space to grow as a person (cheesy, I know) which, in turn has made me a better writer. It’s all about adjusting your mindset.
If you’re in the financial position to take a break, and you believe one could provide you with what you need emotionally and practically, I say go for it. Personally, I’m glad I waited until I was six years into my career to take my break, because by then I had a solid network and reputation —and the funds to do so— but these details will be a little different for everyone.
“How do you come up with story ideas when you’re feeling blocked?”
I talk to people. I ask my friends and boyfriend what they’re thinking about, reading, watching, and doing, then think about the information gaps that exist within those areas. (It helps if these people aren’t also working in the media and don’t spend all day on Twitter!)
“What’s the best bit of writing advice you’ve ever received?”
Never write anything you wouldn’t want to read yourself.