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How MPA Next creates community for up-and-coming magazine media professionals

MPA Next is an initiative aiming to fill a need in the industry to train, educate and provide networking opportunities for those with fewer than 7 years in the industry - for those in non-editorial positions like PR, advertising, marketing, and business development. It exists next to ASME Next, a similar initiative aimed at young journalists.

MPA Next was created in September 2016 as a community of professionals early in their careers in the magazine media industry. It also helps MPA, the association of magazine media in the USA, connect with that generation of professionals which in turn, supports and benefits association member companies, too.

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MPA Next hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including workshops and lectures with industry’s top management, networking and socialising receptions, and most recently a joint conference with ASME Next, the first of its kind for junior magazine professionals. 

FIPP caught up with Christina Vega, who is currently the manager of editorial publicity at Forbes Media and one of two MPA Next vice presidents, and Skye Rubel, who is currently a communications and events coordinator at MPA and the chair of MPA Next, to discuss the initiative.

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As a young professional yourself, how does MPA Next fill a need for you, personally?

After over five years of working in magazine media, I have become passionate about the industry, how it is changing, and what its future holds. MPA Next was a perfect opportunity to connect with young professionals within the same industry, in similar levels/positions as myself, to discuss their experiences and lessons learned from working in magazine media.   

What do you take away from attending MPA Next events? From being part of this community? 

MPA Next events are geared to an audience that I can relate to. The event topics are relevant to what is happening in media and offer valuable advice for professionals who are eager to advance their career within magazine media. The topics discussed at these events provide great context to use in conversations when speaking to high level executives within your company or other influential leaders in media.  

Has being a member (and on the committee) made an impact on your career?

MPA Next is a fairly new community and I am excited to be a part of it. Our most recent MPA Next/ASME Next Conference was a success and there were many key takeaways that I’ll definitely apply to my career. As MPA Next continues to grow, I know I will continue to learn from our members and events.

Why take on the role of vice president at MPA Next? Who, generally, is on the MPA Next committee and what is its role?

I was excited about the formation of MPA Next and decided to take on an officer position because I wanted to be involved in helping the community grow and succeed. I saw this as a great opportunity to connect with my peers and learn as much as possible about our industry. 

The committee is a group of our most involved members who meet a few times a year to discuss ongoing goals of MPA Next and to brainstorm ideas. The committee meetings are to ensure that MPA Next is encompassing everyone’s goals and serving a purpose for its members.  

How do you help shape events going forward?

The MPA Next officers along with Skye Rubel, MPA Next chair, communicate regularly to discuss and suggest events, ideas and topics that may be top of mind for junior level professionals. All of the officers have different backgrounds and roles in their respective companies, so it’s interesting to learn about new facets of the industry that I was unfamiliar with before. We bring knowledge and key findings from each of our own companies to brainstorm event ideas that will result in all-encompassing learning experiences for our peers. Because MPA Next is for anyone in a non-editorial function, we tend to learn about a wide range of topics. 

What future events are on the horizon? 

Our last MPA Next/ASME Next conference on February 7, 2017 was a success. It was geared to an audience who is eager to learn and nourish their career. We are currently in the process of planning several different educational and networking events for 2017 similar to this. These events include workshops for young professionals and lectures from industry experts who can offer valuable career advice. 

Skye Rubel MPA Next ()

MPA Next was your idea, yes? Can you tell us how/why you came up with the idea? 

Despite being relatively new to the magazine media industry, I’ve had the privilege of attending events typically geared to senior and mid-level executives. I learned a lot at these sessions, and it struck me that other junior-level employees would benefit from similar events, particularly if programming is catered to people of our experience-level. I saw how successful ASME Next has been with junior editors and writers so it seemed like a natural progression to initiate a business counterpart for newcomers working in other sectors of the industry. 

We brought this idea to life at a staff-wide brainstorming session conducted by MPA’s president and CEO, Linda Thomas Brooks. It was so well received that I presented the plan to the MPA Board who unanimously approved. MPA Next officially launched last September.  

Why was it important to train, to educate, to provide networking opportunities for young professionals in the magazine media industry? Why was it important to have this community and set of resources available to young people? 

MPA Next builds on the excitement that newcomers have for magazine media. Our forum provides the necessary tools and insight inherent to success in this business. Young people are by-and-large passionate, talented and hardworking. We’re looking for opportunities to learn from our peers and to become the best we can be. A knowledgeable, enthusiastic group of junior staff makes for successful and vibrant business. After all, these are the people who will ultimately take the reigns and lead the industry in decades to come.

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As a recent grad, what challenges did you face trying to get a job in the magazine media industry? Is it that hard for everyone? What challenges do young professionals face in the magazine media industry? 

I would argue that magazine media is one of the most competitive industries for recent college graduates. Many of us have had a lifelong dream of working in media. (I for one, made a prototype of a magazine I called Ciel – a French derivative of my name, Skye – when I was in middle school.) The great thing about competition is once you get your foot in the door, you have the opportunity to work with accomplished professionals who can help mold one’s future. The challenge is for newcomers to use their passion to broaden their scope in the industry and to learn from their higher-ups. When the stars align, this passion, knowledge and initiative can open doors in any number of sectors.   

I set the tone for my career when mentored by my high school journalism teacher. I was appointed editor-in-chief of the school paper, which led to a variety of media positions in college. I headed up the University of Georgia’s foremost multicultural publication, which led to a fabulous internship at Good Housekeeping. 

With perseverance after graduation and a lot of rejection, I found my niche at MPA with a job I love and supervisors who I will be forever grateful to.

It can be quite competitive. How has MPA Next opened doors for you?

Only a few months after our launch, MPA Next has already given members the opportunity to interact with the best in the business. We recently held a joint conference with ASME Next that attracted over 100 attendees. The conference featured such industry leaders as Time Inc.’s Rich Battista, Cosmopolitan’s Amy Odell, Teen Vogue’s Philip Picardi and more. It’s rewarding to organise events that give access to industry luminaries who otherwise may be out of reach to our members.  

It’s been a valuable experience to me to interact with people from a variety of sectors. My background has primarily been in communications; I’ve learned a great deal and broadened my scope by working with MPA Next members in such diverse fields as advertising, research, marketing… the list goes on. In addition, MPA Next is a fun, effective way to network and meet people of similar interests.

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What can young professionals expect from becoming a member? How can they join? 

Since our launch in September, we’ve hosted several events including conferences, committee meetings and networking receptions, culminating with a year-end holiday party. We also offer members the opportunity to attend MPA events typically unavailable to junior-level employees. We’re currently finalising details for upcoming programs. Prospective workshops conducted by industry experts include career-building skills like public speaking, salary negotiation and perfecting one’s “elevator pitch,” to name but a few topics. 

I’d encourage anyone in the USA passionate about advancing his or her career and learning about the industry to join MPA Next. We can use your talents! Applications can be downloaded at magazine.org/MPAnext.

Celebrating global talent

At the 41st FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October 2017 in London, the agenda will include conversation about talent acquisition, development and retention, as well as presentations by winners of FIPP’s global Rising Stars in Media Awards. 

More information about entering the FIPP Rising Stars Awards 2017 will be released soon, but if you have questions in the meantime please feel free to get in touch with Claire Jones at Claire@fipp.com. See more from Rising Stars 2016, including a list of winners, here.

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