Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK — Sitting in a bare cubicle the other morning with reading glasses perched halfway down her nose and typing on a laptop she had brought from home, Lois Draegin looked a bit like the extra adult wedged in at the kids' table at Thanksgiving.
This accomplished magazine editor lost her six-figure job at TV Guide last spring and is now, at 55, an unpaid intern at wowOwow.com, an interactive Web site with columns and stories that target accomplished women older than 40.
"The Women on the Web," or WOW, as the site is known, needed Draegin's magazine-world wisdom, and she needed their guidance through a maze of technology that was as baffling to her as hieroglyphics.
It wasn't until she was teamed with Randi Bernfeld at WOW that she understood the obsession with such terms as search-engine optimization (a method to increase traffic to a site) or used Google Trends to pick story topics and write a uniform-resource locater (an address on the Web).
"She's my mentor," Draegin said of 24-year-old Bernfeld.
"No, she's my mentor," Bernfeld replied.
Joni Evans, a former Simon & Schuster president who is chief executive of WOW, has recruited several other laid-off publishing workers as interns — her site's way of doing good in a bad economy.
"I think of this as a very WOW model — women helping women, bringing us all back to our true ethic of empowering each other," said Evans, who founded the site with columnist Peggy Noonan, "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl, advertising executive Mary Wells and gossip columnist Liz Smith.
Draegin took the internship at WOW as a creative way to fill out her résumé while waiting out a collision of bad events stalling her career. Other laid-off workers are attempting to be inventive by using such newer social-networking techniques as LinkedIn and Twitter to find jobs.
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