“I had never picked up a magazine until I came here, so I like to credit magazines for helping me learn English.”
As children, we all have a dream of what we want to be when we grow up. Ignacio Murillo’s (’14) dream was “to work at one of the top fashion magazines in the world.”
Fast-forward to 2016, and he is doing just that. He is a photo assistant at Harper’s Bazaar, America’s first women’s fashion magazine, based in New York City. But at as a child, that wasn’t always a dream he believed could become reality.
Murillo was born in Mexico and never once thought he would have the opportunity to move to New York City after graduating college. At the age of 10, he and his family moved to the United States and settled in Horn Lake, Mississippi. He soaked up American culture and learned English.
“I had never picked up a magazine until I came here, so I like to credit magazines for helping me learn English,” Murillo said. “I would get a magazine and then get my dictionary and try to figure out what it was talking about.”
Although Murillo credits the South for shaping him to be who he is, he always had a vision of living in New York. During his junior year in college, he did a fashion internship at Factory PR. When the internship ended, he got a tattoo that reads “New York City,” as a reminder that he had to come back. Three months after graduating in 2014, Murillo finally did — this time, to stay. Confident he would find a job right off the bat, Murillo decided to crash with one of his close friends while job-searching.
“I literally packed two suitcases and thought, ‘Oh, I have experience. It shouldn’t be that hard to find a job,’” he said.
Murillo did have a lot of experience, including a wide array of jobs and internships while a student at Ole Miss. He was the design editor of The Daily Mississippian, the university’s student-run newspaper; an intern for Ole Miss Athletics working with PR and photography; and the creative director of Mud & Magnolias, a Mississippi magazine based in Tupelo.
Patricia Thompson, director of student media, got to know Murillo very well in his many years of working on The Daily Mississippian staff.
“He was an excellent designer — extremely creative — and an outstanding photographer,” Thompson said. “He worked hard, and he was always fun to be around.”
Kim Ling, associate media relations director for Ole Miss Athletics, said, “Ignacio always went above and beyond what was asked of him. He was a very hard worker with a great attitude.”
Murillo’s talents were unmistakable, but employers said his résumé was all over the place and too broad. He needed to focus on one specific thing and build his résumé from that. He continued his search and went through several interviews. He was turned down a few times but was determined not to give up. His love for social media and a little bit of persistence helped Murillo land his job at Harper’s Bazaar.
“I got my job technically through Twitter,” Murillo said.
After researching the magazine, he became “obsessed” with its executive editor/special projects, Laura Brown. Two months before graduating and determined to get noticed, Murillo began tweeting her.
“It got to the point where I started just kind of being annoying,” he said. “I would Photoshop photos of me and her and kept tweeting at her saying ‘This could be us if I was your intern, but you are playing,’ but she never replied until I found out she was obsessed with [the TV series] ‘Game of Thrones.’”
He cleverly Photoshopped her and him together making her one of the main characters, Khaleesi the queen, and him a slave with the same tagline, “This could be us, but you are playing.”
“I was in my English Literature class and my phone started blowing up,” Murillo said.
“She had retweeted and Instagrammed my photo and said to call her office.”
Murillo seized the opportunity and immediately sent her an email with his résumé. After a long process, including a 10-hour writing test and several interviews, it was concluded that his talents lay more in the art department than the features department.
“[The art department] already had summer interns and kept telling me I needed more experience,” Murillo said. “The first thing I said was that I’m never going back to interning after I graduated; I wanted a real job. But after a month of no luck, I got a call from the art department asking if I wanted to intern. I got hired and interned from August to November.”
After the internship, he continued to apply for jobs, but felt discouraged. He ran out of money and went back to Mississippi around the time of his birthday. He thought he didn’t want to go back to New York.
“It was my mom who put me back on that plane and encouraged me to come back,” he said.
That encouragement landed Murillo back in New York and, after keeping in touch with several of his former supervisors, he learned that Harper’s Bazaar was hiring. In March, after several interviews, his childhood dream finally became a reality. Murillo was officially hired as a photo assistant. Ironically, Emilia Clarke, the actress who plays Khaleesi on “Game of Thrones,” was featured on the cover of the first issue that had his name on it.
“It was destiny,” Murillo said.
As photo assistant, Murillo’s responsibilities include handling invoices, researching photo shoots, helping with concept ideas, producing shoots and interviewing potential new interns. The most time-consuming part of his job is the research portion. He uses Oxford as an example.
“[Let’s say] we heard how great Oxford is and want to do a shoot. It’s my responsibility to do full-on research of Oxford and find the best locations and contact info for people and see if the location is available.”
He also works closely with the fashion and beauty teams and helps book models, stylists, and photographers, making sure everyone is available for that particular day to work on a shoot.
Murillo explained that Harper’s Bazaar is a “high-intensity environment,” but aside from the stress, working there is rewarding.
“When an issue comes out, it just feels great that you are producing something of such good quality,” he said.
He also points out that unlike other magazine corporations, Harper’s Bazaar has a much smaller staff, which he enjoys.
“We are such a small team that you get to work with everyone and get to really know everyone. We are like a family.”
When asked how it feels achieving his lifelong dream, Murillo said he considers himself lucky. One piece of advice he gives to people in search of jobs or internships is to stand out and to never give up.
“It takes all the little things to be noticed. Kids these days feel entitled. You need to show them why you deserve it.”
Thompson said she is not surprised that Murillo has been successful in New York.
“Some of his designs were among the best I had ever seen,” she said. “Every semester he was here, he helped the DM get better.”
The author, Rachael Holman, is a senior, integrated marketing communications major from Tupelo, Mississippi.
The Meek School Magazine is a collaborative effort of journalism and Integrated Marketing Communications students with the faculty of Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Every week, for the next few weeks, HottyToddy.com will feature an article from Meek Magazine, Issue 4 (2016-2017).
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