Most of us remember where we were the day after the election. Julie Alvin, executive editor at Bustle, was at a bar with friends and fellow journalists who decided they would move beyond social media and take action. And, as a result, the Watch Us Run event was born.
“It centered around the idea that we need to create something for women that’s bipartisan,” she said of the January 20th event, planned purposely to coincide with Inauguration Day. “How do we get more women in office who are actually governing our country and working with the best interests of women in mind?”
Because now, more than ever, it’s important for mainstream women’s websites and publications, to keep the conversation going. As a member of the media, Alvin doesn’t take this responsibility lightly. Before Bustle, she’s written for Condé Nast, Crain Communications, The New York Times, Food & Wine, and Marie Claire.
Read more to learn her advice for breaking into the industry and the responsibility of media.
Her Agenda: Why is it so important for women to get involved in politics and activism?
Julie Alvin: I actually published an interesting piece on Bustle by Brittany Stalsburg who is a friend of mine and has a PhD in political science and works on political polling. And she wrote a piece for us because a lot of people were saying “oh, you’re just voting for so-and-so because you’re a woman.” And she was saying there’s actually nothing wrong with that. There’s actually nothing wrong with voting for somebody because they’re in the same demographic as you because they’ve faced similar things or they’ve faced similar struggles and they’re able to legislate with those things in mind.
I think that is important when it comes to getting women in office. The more women that are in office, the more women with the experiences of a woman are going to be legislating when it comes to things like reproductive choice and equal pay and paid family leave and military families. It’s important that women, who make up half of the population, also make up half of the government. Because otherwise, despite the best efforts of men who are allies to women, they still don’t get it and they still don’t know exactly what it’s like.
Her Agenda: How do we keep the momentum going?
Julie Alvin: That’s a really good question. I’m moderating a panel [January 20th] about how to get involved at a grassroots level and one of the questions that I want to ask the activists that I’m speaking to is yes, you need to capture the moment the day after the election or, in the case of Black Lives Matter, the day after somebody was unlawfully killed by the police. It’s really easy to tap into the emotion at that moment, but how do you keep that going? And I don’t really know that answer.
I think it’s really up to the press to continue telling those stories. It may take the day that Donald Trump is elected for people to be freaking out about reproductive choice, but it’s really our job in the media to stay on the lawmakers and pay attention to the talk of defunding and getting stories out there. We’re still publishing stories on “how Planned Parenthood helped me” and keeping that conversation going. As far as the media goes, we have an obligation to be timely, but we also have an obligation to keep certain subjects in the public eye.
Her Agenda: And as a journalist, you’ve enjoyed a pretty impressive career already. What advice do you have for women who want to break into the industry?
Julie Alvin: A lot of our editorial staffers are people who started as interns and writers for Bustle. If you’re interested in doing what I do and you don’t necessarily have a background in editing, think about writing and posting to places like Bustle. And think about emailing people, but be really strategic about who you pitch and be really strategic about what you pitch.
Pay really close attention to what the website is doing, what’s timely, what you can do better than anybody else, what your background is or what your story is and pitching that way. That is the way you get in the door– having clips on your resume. Clips are the way you get hired for a writing job and the writing job is how you get hired for a job as the editor. It’s also important to have a LinkedIn account and apply for jobs online, but most of the jobs I’ve gotten have been through some random connection. Pitch strategically and write as much as you can. Reach out to your heroes, people who have your dream job. And make the most of out of your personal contacts.
Her Agenda: What were you passionate about when you were younger? What did you want to be when you grew up?
Julie Alvin: I’m 33, but if you had asked me 20 years ago what I wanted to be doing, I would probably tell you I want to be doing exactly what I’m doing now, which is kind of rare. But when I was in elementary school, I actually wanted to be an actor. Oddly enough, I think I just wanted to be famous because if you’re famous, then you can live forever. But I’ve always loved writing since I was a young age. So I feel like I knew much younger than a lot of people do about what I wanted to do and honestly it’s better than I even thought it could be. My favorite part is that I’m constantly learning new stuff.
Her Agenda: And what does your morning routine look like, how do you start your day?
Julie Alvin: It’s very short. I’m a sleeper and I have a lot of trouble dragging myself out of bed in the morning. I wake up 20 minutes before I leave the house and the best part is I live about a mile-and-a-half away from the Bustle offices, so I walk to work every day, which is nice and energizing.
Her Agenda: How do you incorporate self-care into your day?
Julie Alvin: I think the fact that I like the work is really good. For example, listening to our podcast is something fun I’d do anyway. Yes, it’s all Bustle all the time, but a lot of the content is content that I would seek out if I didn’t work at Bustle, so it makes the work seem less like work. For me, I enjoy the work that we create so much that it makes the actual consumption of that feel a lot less like work. But walking to and from work definitely helps me clear my head and I get a lot of sleep, so that’s really good.
Her Agenda: What is your mantra for 2017?
Julie Alvin: It’s always my mantra. Every year, my New Year’s resolution is the same: to read more and be more informed. It’s all about reading basically, which translates to learning. So my mantra would be always keep learning.