This November, Shedoesthecity celebrated its 10th anniversary, and to mark the occasion, we connected with some of our contributors from the past to find out what they’ve been up to lately, how their careers have evolved, and what they are looking forward to in the future.
Sara Harowitz has worked on a number of publications, including Hazlitt, Maisonneuve, VICE, The Globe And Mail, This Magazine, Sad Mag, The Huffington Post, and of course, Shedoesthecity. She currently holds the position of Senior Editor & Digital Editor at MONTECRISTO Magazine, an award-winning lifestyle quarterly based in Vancouver.
Shortly after graduating Ryerson’s Journalism program, Sarah joined our team as an editor. Ambitious, industrious and principled, it was obvious that her career would move quickly. We’ve enjoyed watching her bold, cross-country moves, which has not only been inspiring in itself, but has also led us to learn about beautiful publications based on the west coast.
SDTC: How did your career in media begin?
SH: I participated in a training program at my local paper in high school and then was accepted to the journalism program at Ryerson. I wrote for free for a while to get my name out there (an unfortunate stepping stone in the industry, not that I condone it) and was given my first paid editing job by the amazing Jen at this very blog.
How has your professional life evolved since you first began writing?
Writing has always been my number one outlet, my way of processing the world. On a professional level, it was writing that got my foot in the door at multiple publications. I’m always trying to be better at it.
My current job at MONTECRISTO involves a lot of writing but also a lot of editing. I’ve developed a real love for working with a contributor on their articles and making them be the best they can. I love that process.
When you reflect on the past ten years, what are the biggest career lessons that come to mind?
I am a firm believer in going after what you want instead of waiting for opportunity to come knocking. I’ve always felt that it is important to take charge of my own destiny, and I think that has helped me a lot thus far.
What’s a recent life lesson that has really impacted you?
As I’ve grown in my current role at MONTECRISTO, especially in the last few months, I’ve really had to learn to trust myself. Sometimes that can be the hardest lesson: do I really deserve to be here? Do I have the knowledge to make the right decisions? Of course I still ask for help (which is another important lesson), but I’m also slowly starting to be more confident in my abilities as an editor and leader.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges in the media industry today?
Pretty much every industry has had to adapt to survive in the internet age. But journalism has been hit particularly hard, and I think its biggest challenge is finding ways to thrive online while doing right by the stories and the readers. We need to find ways to change the system so that we are doing something more noble than chasing page views.
How have you adapted your career to accommodate those challenges?
I try to stick to my guns and shut out the bullshit. There are days when I feel so discouraged about the whole industry, but I try to stay focused and see the bigger picture. Beneath all the buzz of fake news and Instagram “influencers” is a profession with incredible strength, ingenuity and innovation. I think with the right people in positions of leadership, we can start to change the conversation and move media in the right direction. For me personally, that means no clickbait, no listicles—we are storytellers, first and foremost.
What do you love most about what you do?
I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet interesting people. I basically get to pick others’ brains for a living. Aside from that, I love how a good story can change someone’s perspective, or at the very least brighten her mood. I work for a culture publication, so I’m not so precious as to say I’m changing lives—but I like to think I’m enriching them.
If you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
People will tell you that the industry is dying and worthless, and that there are no jobs. They are wrong. Keep doing what you’re doing, kid. I would tell you to cry less but I know that’s a lost cause.
What piece of advice, or tip from a mentor, do you think about often that has helped you make decisions about your professional life?
It might be cliché to call my dad a mentor, but he has always been a go-to for advice in my life. When I was in high school he used to always tell me, “You’re not fully cooked yet.” I think about that even now as a reminder to myself that I’m always learning, and that there are always new opportunities for me to grow. I try not to box myself in.
What are your hopes or predictions for the media industry at large in the next decade?
I hope journalism can find a way to thrive in the digital landscape, and I hope that consumers start to understand the value of honest, high-quality storytelling. So many people told me that journalism school was a waste of time, but you know what? The students who graduated with proper training understand the ethics and challenges of working in this field. I’m not saying you need a BJ (as we called it) to work in media, but I think the true skill and importance of this profession has been largely devalued. I hope that changes.
What hobbies or passions outside of work currently occupy your time? Or what project(s) are you currently working on?
Aside from my full-time job at MONTECRISTO, I am also the outgoing editor-in-chief of SAD Mag. It’s an indie arts and culture publication that I have worked on for the past few years. It has been tons of fun and has taken up most of my free time, but I feel it’s time to pass the SAD Mag torch, so I’m currently putting the final touches on my last issue. I don’t have any other passion projects in the works just yet but am looking forward to the uncertainty and seeing where that takes me.
When you think back to 2007 and compare to now, how do you think you’ve changed the most?
Oh boy. I was seventeen in 2007, so it’s safe to say I’ve changed in a lot of ways since then. I would say that my hair is better now, and so is my confidence in myself.