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Better Homes and Gardens senior editor started as an apprentice

By Brooke Wrage
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

As a first-generation college student, Rachel Haugo switched her undergraduate major five times.

Haugo wanted to find something she loved.

She explored graphic design, anesthesiology, accounting, advertising, and finally settled for journalism with a magazine emphasis.

She doesn’t regret it.

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Rachel Haugo, senior editor for Better Homes and Gardens at Meredith Corp. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Haugo)

Haugo is more than 10 years out of college and still works at the same corporation she got her first job at after college. She found her place at Meredith Corp. after being a part of its apprenticeship program during her senior year at Iowa State University.

“Any time I feel like I kind of plateaued in a position, there’s always been something else that’s come up,” Haugo said in a phone interview. “It’s just been a really good experience. Meredith really does feel like home to me.”

She grew up in North Dakota and attended high school in Plymouth, Minnesota, where her high school yearbook teacher inspired her to attend Iowa State University and become a Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Her yearbook experience doesn’t fall far from her job as the senior editor for the Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

“I would say my job right now is almost like yearbook for adults,” Haugo said.

Technology is Haugo’s biggest challenge because it is constantly changing and improving. Haugo works to adapt to whatever the new trend is and tries to grasp an understanding of how it works.

As a media company, Meredith Corp. taps into the popular media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.

Haugo argues a place for magazines will still exist in the future because of the value and opportunities of digital content.

Haugo is excited to see where she will be in 10 years but does not have a plan sketched out. She strives to find what is best for herself at a given time.

“I think being fluid and able to adapt is just vital to the profession, ” Haugo said. “I think it’s just a matter of evolving with technology and revolving with the field.”

She is proud that she has found opportunities to grow personally and professionally within the same organization.

Haugo has worked for Meredith Corp. as a senior editor, lifestyle editor, producer and an associate editor. She has experience editing content for online and print.

A typical day for Haugo begins at 9 a.m. with a meeting and then varies from overseeing video or photoshoots to attending other meetings. Her team consists of six members who work with a lot of how-to content and how-to writing.

To be efficient editors, Haugo’s team collaborates and often recreates how-to projects to ensure they are able to write clear descriptions.

“How-to writing is kind of an art of itself, versus pretty magazine story writing. It’s just different, and you have to be very precise because when we’re not precise, we get a lot of reader questions,” Haugo said. “So we try to think about potential questions before we receive them.”

Outside of work, Haugo is a volunteer academic adviser for Kappa Kappa Gamma at Iowa State University. With Kappa, she is also on the editorial board for The Key magazine.

Haugo’s advice for students is to put effort into yourself, make connections and learn about what other people do.

Haugo believes every experience is one that shapes you into a better person and helps you to grow and become a well-rounded employee.

“You get out what you put in, and I really feel strongly that if you are interested in a certain area you really have to put that upon yourself to develop it,” Haugo said. “No one is going to develop you, you have to develop yourself.”