Welcome to our latest blog series, Meet the Media! Here, we interview Hana Hong, the Associate Beauty + Fashion Editor at Real Simple.
How did you get your start in journalism? Did you always see yourself being a journalist?
I guess it’s hard to pinpoint my exact start in journalism because I’ve always been involved in campus and local magazines since college–being EIC of my college magazine definitely gave me great experience. But a college professor really helped kickstart my professional career by referring me to a program where they set up one student from the college with an internship at InStyle (fully funded!). I applied and got the job, and that was my first “official” internship. After that, I scored an internship with Reader’s Digest through ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors), and ASME helped me network and connect with so many magazine editors in the industry that I admired. With those connections I was able to score my first job post-graduation at Hearst, where I wrote across Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, and Woman’s Day. And then I eventually landed where I’m at now back at Meredith!
I always saw myself being a writer (all I did was write and write on Microsoft Word for hours at a time when I was a kid), but I never knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I initially planned on being a book author until I realized that I have no patience for long-form novels (lol). After that I considered dabbling in newspapers, but after being EIC of my high school newspaper, realized I kind of hated writing news stories too. I knew I wanted to somehow merge my interest in beauty/fashion with my passion for writing, which is how I decided that I wanted to enter the magazine journalism industry.
What is an accomplishment you are most proud of in your career?
I wrote a story for Cosmopolitan on the dark side of K-beauty, which was cool because I’d always wanted to shed light on that taboo topic in Korean culture for a long time. I’ve seen so many girls get crushed by the insecurity and judgment from Korean society. I’m also pretty proud of getting over my camera shyness and creating video content for Real Simple. I’ve always been pretty immersed in the beauty YouTube culture so being able to film my own video content, including makeup and hair tutorials, is a pretty fun and rewarding experience.
What advice would you give to an aspiring journalist?
Informational interviews are always great; I spent one of my spring breaks during college in New York networking with editors instead of opting for a tropical getaway with my friends (paid off in the end). And find yourself a good mentor–I couldn’t have gotten to where I am now without the help of amazing people who believed in me from the very beginning. If you really love what you do, keep at it. There are going to be a lot of rejections, criticism, anxiety, and disappointing moments along the way, but you have to keep believing in yourself and your own writing.
What are you doing when you’re not writing?
Haha when I’m not in quarantine? I’m usually out shopping (which I consider a serious sport), writing random stories for fun, perusing the NYC restaurant scene, or going on a horror movie marathon.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Ah, who knows–the magazine industry is unpredictable and I actually love that it’s taken me to so many unexpected places already. I definitely still want to be working in beauty/fashion and/or writing, hopefully both.
Favorite TV show?
How I Met Your Mother is literally perfection (I keep that show on repeat), but I’m also a sucker for reality shows like Love Island and Bachelor. Call me basic.