And the first word of the 2012-2013 academic year: luck.

The last time you heard from me, I was desperately seeking summer employment in my hometown. To make a dull story short, I landed a job as a cashier at Staples and spent the next few months scanning carts full of back-to-school supplies. And while some work experience is infinitely better than no work experience, I didn’t expect to finish break with much in the way of career opportunities. Not at Staples and certainly not on my little vacation to New York City.

My mom and I took a short trip to the big apple in late May. I’d never been before, so we packed plenty of sightseeing into four days – the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ellis Island, Times Square, “The Phantom of the Opera” and even a taping of “The Colbert Report!”

One night on our way back to the hotel, I realized we were right in front of the Hearst Tower, headquarters of the Hearst Corporation. Hearst is responsible for numerous publications and communications companies, including some of the country’s most circulated magazines.  If you’ve ever picked up a copy of Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan or Harper’s Bazaar, you’ve appreciated content produced by Hearst. And there I was standing in front of the very skyscraper where those magazines were put together.

My mom struggled to take my picture with the Hearst sign in between groups of pedestrians. A young professional offered to take one of us both. Turned out he worked for Hearst as the art director for Food Network Magazine. He took us through security and up to the 35th floor, where the magazine is produced. The desks, the computers, everything was modern and shiny and new. My favorite part was the conference room, which had a spectacular view of the skyline and Central Park.

For most people such an opportunity would evoke only mild delight. But I am an aspiring journalist. An aspiring magazine journalist. An aspiring magazine journalist who wants to live in New York City.

Maybe writing isn’t your thing and you can’t appreciate the gravity of this chance encounter. Let’s say you’re a New York sports fan and you hope to become a major league baseball player. The equivalent would be running into Derek Jeter outside Yankee Stadium and having him offer to show you around the dugout.

Of course I asked him for professional advice. His answer: intern, intern, intern.

I was so lucky to bump into that magazine editor, and I couldn’t thank him enough. Now I’m looking into internships for next summer. I’ll have to work my way up to that Central Park view, but I know it’s worth it.

P.S. Kudos to assignment editor Jake Slease for explaining a sports-related equivalent to me!