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Penn State alumna and her dog help media professionals fetch next job

Mandy Hofmockel with Maggie
Media studies alumna Mandy Hofmockel smiling with her dog Maggie. The two are a part of "Journalism Jobs and a Photo of My Dog," a newsletter that helps jobseekers in the media industry find jobs, learn skills and stay positive.

Job searching can be a stressful and challenging experience. With help from her dog Maggie, Mandy Hofmockel is helping alleviate some of that stress.

Hofmockel is a managing editor at Hearst Connecticut Media Group. She graduated in 2011 with a media studies degree from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. She remembers the pressure of applying to jobs shortly after graduation and the many things she wishes she had done differently.

Those early lessons inspired “Journalism Jobs and a Photo of My Dog,” a weekly newsletter Hofmockel created to “demystify” the process of applying and interviewing for jobs in the media industry. The newsletter is packed with job listings, helpful tips and uplifting messages. And, of course, photos of Maggie, Hofmockel’s almost 4-year-old labrador retriever.

Mandy Hofmockel with her dog, Maggie

Media studies alumna Mandy Hofmockel holds her dog Maggie. The two are a part of "Journalism Jobs and a Photo of My Dog," a newsletter that helps jobseekers in the media industry find jobs, learn skills and stay positive.

It started as a way to help other people, and also keep an eye on the industry,” Hofmockel said. “And then I asked, how can I bring a sense of myself and some levity to (the job search)?”

That’s where Maggie comes in.

Hofmockel first had an idea to turn Maggie into an “Instagram dog.” Her account brought in a couple thousand followers, but it wasn’t as much fun as expected. It also may have been affecting the relationship with her new puppy. So, following up on a New Year’s resolution, she combined her interest in helping people find jobs with the photos of Maggie to create the newsletter.

Hofmockel said despite feeling prepared coming out of college, she struggled to nail down her first job. After applying for more than 100 positions over five months, the search started to take a toll on Hofmockel’s confidence – a feeling she aims to help others avoid.

Luckily, she secured a web producer position at MassLive.com, which started the trajectory toward her current managing editor role. “Journalism Jobs and a Photo of My Dog” is designed, not only to help people find jobs, but also help them stay motivated and prevent some of the pitfalls Hofmockel experienced early in her career.

“I try to make sure that it’s as fun and light as possible because looking for a job can be a really heavy experience,” she said. “I also started adding a section of things that I find inspiring.”

Hofmockel knows some of her subscribers signed up just for the dog photos, and that’s OK with her. She expects to eclipse 10,000 subscribers this year, and last year she started a paid subscription program that features extra content twice a month. Professional coaching for women and other underrepresented groups in media is featured in both the free and paid versions of the newsletter.

“It took some time to get to this point,” she said. “And I love the community.”

Hofmockel gets emails from readers with job postings, resources and articles to include in the newsletter. Others will tag her on Twitter when they see relevant content. She also gets notes from people who found jobs through her newsletter. Many stay subscribed for the motivational tips, professional advice. And, of course, photos of Maggie.

“It really warms my heart. I’ve heard from a number of people who got a job they saw in the newsletter,” Hofmockel said. “They’ll tell me that I posted a job a little while back, and they started the job that day … and that is what we’re here for.”