Advancing My Career as a Woman in Media
Updated: Apr 20, 2019
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Women + Media Career Summit the MOME and the Center for Communication was putting on. It was specifically for female students in communication with the goal of putting on panels staffed with executives and the higher-ups in our industry who have dealt with what it means to be a woman in this business. Topics included: how to get the job and build your resume, how to build your personal brand, what it means to be an entrepreneur in media and being in a creative role. I thought I’d share some of the more poignant things I heard and learned by being there not only as a woman, but as a media producer wondering what the next steps are for me in my career.
1. In finding and building your career, it’s important to maintain a stable sense of identity
It’s really easy to get discouraged especially in this industry. With what seems like endless competition and limited opportunities, sending out your resume constantly and networking events begin to really grate on your soul (to be dramatic). Despite the fact that there will always be setbacks, you can’t beat yourself up. The question of “Am I really good enough for this?” that will ring in your head is almost a constant one and a question that has to be kept at bay by cultivating a strong sense of identity.
For me it starts with writing and writing specifically on my goals, the projects I’m planning to do to keep me moving forward, and occasionally reestablishing what I’m good at and where I want to go. It’s easy to fall into this cycle of feeling you are swimming upstream without a paddle, but by persistently reminding yourself where you’re going and what you want you can make it a lot easier on yourself in the process.
2. Networking doesn’t have to be as painful as it sounds
I’m pretty sure I’ve always, from the moment I heard the word, hated “networking”. It sounds so clinical, like a medical procedure I might have to go through. Something I realized eventually was networking isn’t just going to large events full of strangers and making awkward small talk (but that is, for sure, a part of it) but it encompasses a lot more than that. It’s maintaining relationships with the people you collaborate with especially when you really enjoyed working with those people. It’s following up with someone you met that you feel wouldn’t be too painful to get a cup of coffee one weekend. It’s remembering that just as much as you want to help people, people want to help you (most of them at least - I’m an optimist), but they won’t do it if you don’t ask.
It seems like this word has a little bit of a different meaning to everyone but I consider myself an “introvert” and for this means that the idea of going to an event filled with a lot of people I don’t know is a pretty big deal. I have to hype myself up for it and plan ahead. It’s not the kind of thing I can do often, but when I do it I make sure it counts (because frankly who knows when I’ll have the energy to do it again). I was pretty proud of myself this past Friday when I found myself starting conversations with the people who sat next to me and exchanging business cards. It turns out it’s not as impossible as it seems.
3. Give yourself a break
While the battle to “make it” (whatever that is for you) in this industry is on-going, it doesn’t have to everyday exhausting warfare on your mental health. I think it’s easy to think you have to be checking your email 24/7 and doing everything you can to get ahead with the way social media sure makes it seem like your friends and all their friends all have jobs except for you. Despite all the FOMO, I think it’s important to let yourself relax every so often and take real breaks. If you need to spend a day sitting around and doing nothing but playing video games and eating chips - do it! I personally wouldn’t spend every day like that, but I think it’s essential to allow yourself this mental hiatus at least once a week. Otherwise it’s easy to burn out quickly on applying for jobs or networking with people.
Overall I’m really glad I went (especially since it was free and there was a quality spread of food all day). I met some people I hope to keep in touch with in the future, got a little bit inspired and got to eat a filet mignon sandwich so that was a productive Friday if you ask me.