Megan Gosch at Nina’s Coffee Cafe in St. Paul | PHOTO BY KAILYN HILL

Editing and an interruption of puppies

The managing editor with Tiger Oak Media shares her path to success in her mid-20s, what she loves about her job and unrealistic expectations graduates have when entering the post-college world.

by KAILYN HILL | Writer

Megan Gosch dove head-first into journalism after testing the waters of other career paths in college. She is passionate about the power of journalism and using her skill set to build relationships and tell the important stories. Gosch is determined to make a difference in the world. Her openness about how she will accomplish her goals is a great reminder there are many paths to take, none of them being the only right one. She has a logical outlook on how to succeed in life and stressed the importance of putting in effort when making a name for yourself.

Can you tell me your path from high school to where you are now?

“I’m from Milwaukee, and there aren’t a lot of newspapers and magazines, so that was never really part of the plan. I mostly picked the Twin Cities because it was far away from home and I wanted to challenge myself and try something new. I told my parents it was because the (University of Minnesota) had a really good journalism school and it turns out they actually did, I found that out later. So, I got to school and I signed up for a bunch of different classes and was kind of hoping something would stick out to me. Eventually I realized I really do love storytelling, I love reading, I love editing, all of that comes very naturally to me. I love meeting different people and learning from different perspectives. If I could, I would be a life-long learner. Eventually I applied for the J-school, and I got in and started taking classes and learned I was really passionate about the written word and the power of communicating.”

How do you keep your work and personal life separate?

“I feel like I’ve learned that there is no such thing as work-life balance. I think that everyone is chasing it but I don’t know if it’s really achievable. I recently switched from a job where I was working 100 hour weeks to 50 hour weeks, so I am rediscovering having a life again. It’s been hard for my friends and family because they don’t understand it. I think for me it’s worth it to work the long hours, to have the lack of balance, if the work is good and you’re doing something that really makes a difference or that you can feel proud about or that you’re learning from. Every day is a series of personal choices to find that balance.”

I feel like that makes it even more important to love what you do.

“I don’t know many people who do it who aren’t happy about it. Yeah, I would say a lot of times I’m like I love my job, I love my job. Have you seen The Devil Wears Prada? I just watched it the other night with my friends and they were like is that what your job is? Do you work with a Miranda? I’m like no it’s not like that at all!

(At this point in the interview, a woman walked in with a puppy.)

“Oh my god, I’m in the process of apartment hunting so I can get a puppy. That’s another thing, it’s like you have this crazy schedule and a lot of stuff going on and you, I don’t know, at some point you do need something else in your life. I know a lot of people who have gone out and got a dog.”

What do you do to decompress?

“Well, I do love movies and pop culture and shows and everything, and I feel like that I have found ways to tell myself that that’s exactly what I need to be doing. I love going to local events and seeing what new artists are doing. I love watching TV shows and movies and reading, and they all feel very interconnected. I would say I’m very bad at relaxing. I think teaching myself how to do one thing at a time would be good, but I know a lot of journalists I’m friends with have the same problem.”

What would you tell someone entering the job market?

“So many people graduate thinking that when you graduate with a journalism degree there’s this path you follow, and that’s just not true. Everyone goes about it a different way and I wish I had known there isn’t one right path. Journalism is not a very high paying situation, and I think some people have to be prepared to do a lot of work for little to no money. I think it’s a bit of a bummer because it means a lot of people won’t try it just to see what they can bring to the table.”

I was just having that discussion with my professor yesterday, because it’s the same in the design world. Finding a paid internship is almost impossible.

“That makes a lot of sense. In my free time, when I have it, I work on a literary magazine. I’m doing it on a volunteer basis, all the designers are doing it on a volunteer basis. We feel so uncomfortable asking people to do it for free but that’s the budget, and a lot of people just assume it’s for free. They’ve already come to terms with it, and it’s kind of unfortunate and doesn’t seem to be getting better, it’s just the norm.”

“If you do really good work and put yourself out there and you’re making a good name for yourself, it will carry through and people will pay attention.”

It’s hard because there’s this degree of needing to build a portfolio and anything in the creative world is all about networking now.

“Yeah, I wish someone had told me how small it is here. If you do really good work and put yourself out there and you’re making a good name for yourself, it will carry through and people will pay attention. I guess I would want people to know that you’re not locked in too, I wish someone had talked more about your options and the possibilities. It seems like the people who find the most success really know themselves, as long as you’ve got that confidence and you know more about your strengths and abilities you’re probably already on the best track you could be on. Communicating clearly and doing your work on time will get you pretty much as far as you need to go.”

I feel like that’s a skillset that’s lacking in the millennial generation.

“Just common sense is all you need to do well in most jobs. I think interns especially are asking questions like there’s this big mystery to life, but it’s like honestly if you communicate with me I will write you the best letter of recommendation. As long as you’re setting the bar a little higher for yourself and you push yourself, you’re already probably so far ahead of the curve.”

What’s one failure or success story that stands out to you?

“I would say my biggest failures have been when I got ahead of myself on my schedule. A lot of times I get so excited about the work I over commit myself and end up having to dial back. I can get really passionate about telling a person’s story and then maybe we decide to cut that whole section from the magazine. It’s only happened a couple times but it mostly felt like I had let that person down, but it was just a casualty of journalism. It’s just part of the job.”

Who is a mentor who influenced you?

“I had a really amazing professor at the U that challenged me a lot, and just the way that she taught us about journalism and why it’s important and the value that is has. How seriously she took it, really inspired me to do something meaningful with the skills I was learning. She was really hard on us, I learned so much. There were a lot of exercises she had us do that I have interns do.”

If you weren’t in your current job what would you be doing?

“Flight attendant. Even in college I had a backup plan: I always thought I would move out of Minneapolis right away, so I was like, “OK, I’ll job hunt for a while,” and then I set a date and would start applying to be a flight attendant if I didn’t find anything I liked. I ended up getting an internship straight out of college and then a position with Tiger Oak right after that and I had completely forgotten about my deadline for being a flight attendant. Every once in a while I still come back to it, maybe in a couple years.”

So what kind of puppy do you want to get?

“Oh my god! Well, I really want a big, really goofy-looking dumb dog. I don’t want a really smart dog that can like open the door for me. I want it to just be like big and dumb and happy, in its own world doing its own thing. I kept thinking maybe I could get a goofy Golden Retriever but apparently they’re really smart, so there’s that. I don’t know, every time I think about it I’m like honestly whatever loves me the most at the shelter, that’ll probably be whatever I get. I thought maybe a Frenchie for a while but I think I would step on it.”

Megan and I ended up spending two hours at Nina’s Coffee Cafe, and what struck me the most from our conversations both on and off the record was how much she cares about what she does and her genuine desire to help people with their own interests. She was eager to share her own experiences in the hope of educating future graduates so that they are more prepared than she was. I was also impressed with what is clearly an incredible set of work ethics, and the joy she gets from knowing she put her best effort into a project. A career as a magazine editor might not be my dream job, but Megan gave me insight on how to succeed in any position. Aside from professional tips, she was also genuinely eager to hear about Bethel University, my job search and my passions. Her encouragement left me feeling confident and inspired to take on the world and make a difference.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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