Jackie Fields on Landing Her Dream Job
Jackie Fields has what many communications professionals would consider a dream job. She’s currently the senior style and beauty editor at People magazine, a role which has her interviewing celebrities and influencers about the latest trends. For Episode 42 of the Coffee Break w/ NYWICI podcast, Jackie spoke with host Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich about her passion for writing, the importance of networking, and how being a Black woman has influenced her editorial vision. Plus, she gave us all the details on her favorite celebrity interview ever.
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion.
Work Hard at Something You Love
Growing up in the Boston suburbs, Jackie always had summer jobs. She was instilled with a great work ethic, even when she wasn’t enjoying what she was doing. “My mother is one of the hardest working people I know — I struggle with how hard she had to work, and I am so fortunate,” Jackie said. But that lesson taught her to pursue a career that made her happy. “I knew if I had to work, it had to be something that played to my strengths and be something I loved.”
Never Underestimate the Power of Networking
Although Jackie loved writing growing up, she never worked at her college paper or applied for a magazine internship. But after graduation, she went with a cousin who worked in media to the Unity Conference in Washington, D.C., where she met the news director at Time magazine. They hit it off, and when Jackie decided to move to New York City, she kept in touch. Four months later, one of his news assistants went on maternity leave, and he asked Jackie to fill in. “That was the moment that changed my life,” she said. “I worked for him for six months until she came back, and I learned during that time that I wasn’t cut out for Time….but he recommended me for a job at People as an editorial assistant. It just takes one person to help you get you where you want to be.”
Savor the Special Moments
When Jackie heard that Sir Anthony Hopkins was launching a home fragrance line to benefit “No Kid Hungry,” she jumped at the chance to interview him over Zoom. This moment may in fact be the pinnacle of her career, she said. “Here I am in my studio apartment, with my 45-pound bulldog in my lap, talking to the one and only Sir Anthony Hopkins about candles and scents he will always remember,” she recalls. “He was the loveliest person I have ever spoken to, and at the end of the interview, he impersonated Hannibal Lechter.”
You Are Your Biggest Advocate
Jackie admits that she’s not always focused on touting her accomplishments, but over the years, she’s realized that you have to advocate for yourself in your career. “Sticking your head down and hoping that someone notices your work is not the answer,” she said. “It hasn’t always been easy, and it’s hard not to measure your success against others in this industry, but it comes down to being steadfast and knowing what you want and doing whatever it takes to get you to that place.”
Thanks to Jackie Fields for being part of the podcast. You can listen to all the episodes of Coffee Break w/ NYWICI here.