ESPN The Magazine EIC Alison Overholt Recalls Her KPMG Career Blues

“It took me approximately five minutes to realize that I'd made a horrible mistake."

Upon graduating from Harvard in 1998, Alison Overholt opted for the safer path. Unlike many of her peers, who were choosing at the time unpaid media internships or low-paying reporter jobs with regional newspapers, Overholt accepted a job with consulting firm KPMG.

She realized, immediately, that this decision was a mistake. In the turbulent aftermath, one particular publication helped her get through it. From her “Get That Life” essay in Cosmopolitan:

I was really unhappy. I would get my work done as soon as I could and sit in my cubicle and read magazines, especially Fast Company. It was beautiful and fun. They were profiling incredible people. I was dog-earing every page of the magazine. I realized that I wanted to be a journalist.

In 2000, I made a New Year’s resolution to write a letter to Fast Company. I wrote to the managing editor [and said] I thought that Fast Company was doing some of the most exciting work in the world. Wouldn’t they take a risk and think about hiring me to join the team?

Yes sir, it’s a Fishbowl cliffhanger. But we will tell you that an expensive couch played a key role in what followed. For a journalist who would go on to become the first woman to edit a general-interest mainstream English-language sports magazine. The manner in which she landed that job in 2016 is pretty spectacular.

Pictured: ESPN The Magazine’s 2017 Body Issue, on newsstands today. Photo by Walter Iooss.

Previously on Fishbowl:
Amy Odell Now Freely Admits: That Kurt Loder Interview Just Didn’t Cut It
Amy Chozick Tells Cosmo How She Snagged the ‘Hillary Clinton Beat’
How Cosmopolitan Editor Emma Barker Paid Her Career Dues