By Ellen Sturm Niz

Last Friday was Career Day at my daughter's school, and I joined about a dozen other parents to talk about what we do. Among them was's Digital Director Erika Rasmusson Janes, so we tag-teamed our presentation. (In addition to working together now, Erika and I have known each other since early on in our careers. Her oldest son and my daughter were born three weeks apart, and our kids are "best buds" and in the same class at school.) We told the third-graders about our career as editors and writers and how we got here, but as is typical with anything involving kids, we ended up learning a few things, too.

1. Being older than Google is shocking. Erika pointed out that one of the coolest things about her job is that it didn't exist when we were kids—or in at our first jobs, even. When she told them there was no Internet when we were in school and that we had to look things up in encyclopedias, they were flabbergasted. Telling third-graders that we once lived in a world without Google was met with gasps of horror and incredulous cries of, "What?!" from most of the kids. It was like telling them we grew up without food—impossible.

2. Working in my pajamas is as cool as I think it is. "Do you want to know a secret?" I asked the students. "I spend most days working in my pajamas," I told them. They thought this was super cool, as I had hoped. As a freelancer who works from home, I just get out of bed, make a cup of coffee, sit down on the couch with my laptop, and get to work. Do you want to know a secret? I am writing this in my pajamas right now!

3. Following a firefighter or tae kwon do instructor is tough. Seriously. Try never to do this. They are much cooler than you.

4. Giving away free stuff helps make up for not being a firefighter. Because Erika and I both work for websites and magazines for grown-ups, I was lucky enough to get Ranger Rick and National Geographic Kids to donate magazines for us to hand out to the students, who were ecstatic to get them. Many, many thanks to the wonderful people who helped the magazines arrive in time for the presentations.

5. Today's kids are really smart. The thoughtful, insightful questions they asked us were pretty impressive. "How does what you write actually get on the Internet? How do you know how many people are reading what you wrote? How did you actually get your job? Do you have to 'fix' what writers turn in? How do you find stuff to write about?" The questions went on and on. These kids were really thinking about what we said and trying to imagine a day in our lives as editors and writers. I was really encouraged that the future is in good hands!

Ellen Sturm Niz is a New York City-based editor and writer who could never have imagined a world with the Internet when she was in third grade. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Image via Shutterstock



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