Build Your Career Toolkit

Yesterday I attended the New York Women in Communications 2011 Student Communications Career Conference (held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel) with a fellow UConn journalism student and friend, Amy. It was such an incredible experience listening and speaking to professionals in the field I hope to soon enter but I’m not going to lie, I am more anxious than ever! The morning started off with a lovely brunch and welcome address by the foundation’s president, Catherine Mathis. Helen Wagner, a 3M public relations manager started with a “Tools for Success: You and the People Around You” presentation which was followed by a scholarship recipient talking about NYWICI. One of the highlights of my day was the keynote address, given by none other than Ann ShoketSeventeen Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief. She. Was. Incredible. Here are 5 takeaway points I was able to decode from my chicken scratch notes:
1. Cover Letters: write a story about you, what you can do for the publication/job and make it personal.
2. Her mantra is “Seventeen everywhere,” meaning think of all platforms. Shoket considers “how can we be everywhere teenage girls are today.”
3. Make it meaningful. Shoket’s goal is to make the magazine have just as great of an impact on the lives of today’s readers as it had on their mothers’ and grandmothers’.
4. Key to success: keep moving forward toward your goal. Be an explorer and never take roadblocks or obstacles personal.
5. How to get a job: a) write a personal letter with a maximum of 3 paragraphs of what makes you awesome and what you can bring to the table. b) SIT ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT AT YOUR INTERVIEW! Be engaged and come with a story that makes the interviewer want to know more about you. c) Write a good thank you note that has substance. Shed light on what you talked about, how the interview brought clarity, etc. Be real.

The brunch ended with a quick Q&A session before Amy and I were off to our first session: Digital, Social and Mobile Media. The panelists, whom shed light on the influence new platforms have on the future of the communications world, represented Alloy Entertainment, Google, Scholastic and Mashable. I learned the importance of keeping my eye for anything “new” (I guess my obsession with Pinterest does come in handy?) and how being a Jack of all trades is critical in this industry.
5 takeaway points:
1. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you’re looking for.
2. Love your audience. Create content people will want to share and interact with.
3. Keep your eyes out in nontraditional ways.
4. Getting a job is a full-time job. Be patient and flexible. (Womp, womp…)
5. Reach out directly and follow up. Use popcorn questions, hashtags and live chats to grow your audience.

 We then headed to Communications Entrepreneurship. The Founder/Senior Vice President of MediabistroLaurel Touby, moderated a panel of powerful women that stressed the importance of networking, you as a brand, passion and intellectual curiosity. I got a lot out of this discussion and simply HAD to introduce myself to Karen Robinovitz, Co-Founder/Chief Creative Officer of Digital Brand Architects, afterwards. Side note: Amy and I couldn’t help but note her resemblence to Carrie Bradshaw…everything from her curly locks to her fabulous style and career reminded us her of her. I cannot WAIT to pick up her book…heading to Barnes and Noble is on my to do list today, but I digress.
5 takeaway points:
1. Be proactive and never take “no” for an answer. “If I want it, I’m going to get it,” said the founder of TheFabNetwork.comJessica Styles.
2. Problem solving and multi-tasking skills are crucial. Be curious, do your homework and prove you have passion.
3. “Believe that you’re worth it,” Robinovitz stressed. Don’t do it for the money and don’t forget the little people once you get to the top. (I think this was one of my favorite quotes/lessons of the day!)
4. “Pitch, pitch, pitch and pitch some more,” Robinovitz.
5. Networking: Keep a contact database, be methodical in your approach (i.e. Met ___. Wore ___. Talked about  ___.) and invest in these relationships because they are the seeds of your career. 

The last panel was one of the main reasons why I attended this conference in the first place: Magazine Writing for Print and Online. The panel included Allison Baker (Associate Nutrition Editor of SELF Magazine), Sharon Clott (Fashion News Editor of Instyle.com), Rachel Mount (Assistant Food Editor of O, The Oprah Magazine) and Anja Winikka (Style Editor for TheKnot.com) and was moderated by the Section Editor of BlogHer, Paula Gregorowicz. If that little introduction doesn’t do this discussion enough justice alone, take a look at what I got out of it.
5 takeaway points:
1. Worry less and exude confidence.
2. Give extra to prove how an editor would think when it comes to an edit test.
3. Internships are a two-way street.
4. Be curious in a sincere and genuine fashion.
5. Have a specific hook and pitch for a certain section.
All in all, this SCCC was a great experience I HIGHLY recommend to any woman looking to get into the field of communications. Although I am proud to have already taken many of the steps for success shared in yesterday’s conference, I have a lot to do and not much time to do it in (eek!). I guess I’m off to tackle my ever-growing to do list, starting with the gym! The conference’s gift bags provided a lovely magazine selection I will be diving into while on the arc trainer!
What professional advice could you lend to students emerging into the real world?  

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

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3 Comments to “Build Your Career Toolkit”

  1. Sounds so informative! I can’t wait to hear all the details!

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