It’s a rough world for some of us who want to grow in their career or even find a career path to start with. I’ve felt like an ant in this big old world trying to find my way through a career path (multiple times). I’ve felt like I’ve been stomped on by multiple people, and I’ve fought my way up to give myself life again.
We now start to see the movement “Women supporting other women.” I’m sorry, but where was this movement when I was trying to start my career in the fashion industry back in 2013? I was an intern for 5 months at a fashion PR boutique. I had quit my job as a receptionist at a law firm, a law firm where I was encouraged to learn more about depositions and city outreach. I left that all behind because I was a fashion marketing major with a career goal to make it in the fashion industry.
I was thrilled that I was given a chance to be an intern assisting in merchandising, media outreach, celebrity seeding, and events. Turns out, it wasn’t as luxurious as it sounded. My boss literally sounded like she wanted to be Miranda Priestly from the Devil Wears Prada. I was a full-time unpaid intern working from the hours of 8am-6pm. I ran around town running errands, dropping off gifting to celebrities, and dropping off garments. I felt overworked, but the dream to make it in the industry was still a huge focus and passion of mine. Three months in, and I was already asking if I could be hired full time or if I could at least receive a good recommendation for my future endeavors. My boss reassured me that she would give me a stellar recommendation. Little did I know, as I turned around she was telling her assistant that she would never recommend me anywhere. As soon as I found out, I was crushed. I felt like I did everything right in the book. Why would someone be so cruel in that way? I was even asked to stay a few months more. It made no sense.
Did I stay? I sure did. Maybe I was dumb in doing so, but I didn’t want to be a failure and I still had high hopes that maybe she would recommend me. Let’s just say the opportunity was not there. I continued my journey in the public relations/marketing industry, this time with a focus on events and product placement. Boy did I keep facing hard times. Sexual harassment by my boss in events- I remember getting the awkward speech followed by his hand on my knee, “you know what you have to do to get to a high position in the industry, don’t you?” My heart was racing, I could feel heavy lumps in the back of my throat starting to rise, followed my raging anger. I immediately took his hand off my knee and told him he messed with the wrong girl. I remember calling my father, and I couldn’t even get the words out. I was sobbing for hours. The next day, I marched into this guys office, and I quit. I made sure to be loud enough so that his assistant could hear it all. Turns out his assistant quit after hearing it all.
I faced a few more career failures after those major incidents, but I always found a way to keep my head up. I was starting to think maybe I was on the wrong career path. There are five things I did to alter my career path:
- Find a career mentor! I am a huge fan of Career Contessa, so of course, I had spotted out their mentor services. The only problem is, I was broke and the pricing was not in my budget. So what did I do? I found the career mentor I had been reading about on LinkedIn, who also helped build Nasty Gal, and I personally reached out. It might have been creepy, but I was desperate for help and I think she could read between the lines- I really did need help. We outlined my career path with my skills and she was able to connect me with some people in the industry.
- Alter your LinkedIn. You are branding yourself after all, so make sure you include every detail of your past experiences. Make sure you are adding in all the skills you’ve acquired. Use your best SEO skills to highlight the most important job functions. Recruiters are always doing boolean search, which means they are looking for specific keywords in their search.
- Research! Thank god for Glass Door reviews and LinkedIn insights to help determine if a company is a good fit or not. I would spend my time looking into how many years people have been in the company, how long it took them to be promoted, and what the company culture is like. The more research you do on a company and the people who will be interviewing you, the better chance you have in having a stellar interview.
- Be persistent. Always remember to send a thank you email after speaking with someone. Even if you didn’t receive the opportunity to interview or to move on to the second round of interviews. With that, always remember to follow up if you have not heard back. This shows the hiring manager that you are in fact interested. Remember to also never give up. There will be instances where you never hear back from a gig at all, and that’s okay. Just keep n moving and keep your head up. Timing is everything.
- Have a voice. Holy Shiz…it took me four years to finally love my career path and the people I work with. I learned that setting time with my directors and talking about my goals was a great way to excel in my career. Never be afraid to give your opinions for better strategy or to talk about your goals with your higher-ups. Feedback is the best thing you can receive from anyone who sees your work ethic on a daily basis.