For young people striving to forge a career in media, it is both the best of times and the worst of times. It is the best because there have never been so many companies and pathways into the media field. It is the worst because the transformative change in our industry could make some career path choices obsolete in a few years. How can one successfully navigate?
MyersBizNet's 1stFive initiative helps young up-and-comers navigate their entry into a media career from internship through the first five years. At the second annual 1stFive event last week, held at OMD headquarters in New York City, seasoned media executives met with current student interns to offer advice for starting a successful career. The work, they were advised, begins long before the first interview.
Katherine Shappley (pictured above), Head of U.S. Agency at Facebook, offered her insights on managing one’s online presence while at the same time going beyond technology to form impactful and authentic human interactions. She described a deft balancing act.
Shappley’s own career path took an international route. She participated in a Semester at Sea while at university and from there sated her self-described “curiosity bug” by teaching in Korea, the Czech Republic and Turkey before launching her media career at Quigo, then Microsoft and now Facebook.
In her presentation to students at the event, she offered the following insights as to how to best prepare for a career in media … or for any career for that matter:
Most of us love to post our activities on social media and most activities are fairly benign. But Shappley offered a word of caution. “Technology is transforming the way we do business and connections are important," she explained. "You need to manage your online profile and be deliberate about what you post. We are in a more transparent world than before.”
It is very easy to rely solely on email to communicate with prospective employers and current contacts but that would be a mistake, according to Shappley. Remember to pick up the phone and have a conversation," she advised. "It is our digital nature to send a series of emails but stop doing that. Have a conversation. Look them in the eye. Make time. There are only 24 hours in a day and you have an opportunity to meet with many people. Make meaningful connections with those who can help you in your career path. Ask for a 10-minute meeting with a specific request versus being vague and asking for 30. Have specific questions and make a relevant impact.”
A work environment should also be a comfortable and hopefully fun place for an employee to thrive. Shappley believes that one can best succeed by working for a company that is a cultural fit as much as a skills fit. “Find people who you want to work with, have fun with and laugh with,“ she recommended. “It will be an awesome experience no matter what you do.”
Wise advice not only for the next generation but for all of us.
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