An interview with Jessica Pels about what prepared her for her job as Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan, why ageism doesn’t affect her, the ideal mentor relationship, what she wants her legacy to be and her best career advice.
Welcome to the 74th episode of 5 Questions with Dan Schawbel. As your host, my goal is to curate the best advice from the world’s smartest and most interesting people by asking them just 5 questions.
This episodes guest:
My guest today is the Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan, Jessica Pels. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Jessica moved to New York City at age 14 to study ballet at the American Ballet Theatre. After earning her degree in film production at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Jessica held various editorial positions at The New Yorker, Vogue, Glamour and Teen Vogue before becoming the Digital Director for Marie Claire magazine. She left the magazine to accept a similar role at Cosmopolitan, which eventually led to her becoming the youngest person in the history of the magazine to be the Editor-in-Chief at age 32. In her position, Jessica oversees the content and editorial operations for the magazine, web, social, video, and editorial innovation projects. As someone who has contributed articles to magazines in the past, I was excited to speak with Jessica about her journey, perspectives, advice, and legacy.
The 5 questions I ask in this episode:
- What did you learn in your prior job roles that prepared you for your current role?
- As a fellow Millennial leader, I encountered a lot of ageism in my early 20s as I was trying to grow my career. What obstacles did you have to overcome to be the youngest person to ever hold your prestigious position?
- You speak a lot about the importance of mentorship, which is a topic that is often talked about but misunderstood. Can you describe your ideal mentor relationship?
- Over the course of my career, I’ve interviewed those who have held your position before you like Joanna Coles and Kate White. How do you think you’ll be different from your predecessors and what unique contribution are you looking to make?
- What is your best piece of career advice?
Follow Jessica’s journey: