In 2017, we're seeing the power of social media at its finest. We use it to speak on social and political issues that we didn't always have a voice in, news and entertainment stories are turned into viral pieces that would otherwise go unnoticed, and it's also a place where we gather together to give real time commentary on our favorite primetime TV shows (#ScandalThursdays and wine anyone?)
Amongst all of the great things that social media does, it also allows us to network in ways that we never have before.
When I first started using Twitter as a journalist, I knew that I wanted to connect with like-minded people in my field, but I had trouble finding them. I later discovered that the key to getting more followers on Twitter is through Twitter chats! Twitter chats are virtual discussions that allow you to connect with others and engage in conversations about things that you know. I have a few Twitter chats that Siri reminds me of each week, and #BizChats is one of them. Mashable's business sector has bi-weekly #BizChats program that highlights various topics of business from intern to executive.
As the curious person that I am, I researched who ran #BizChats and discovered the gem Tracey Edouard, who is a Social Media Assistant at Mashable. Mashable is a global media site that caters to a digital generation of movers and shakers, providing news about everything from: business, tech, politics, social media, entertainment, lifestyle and more.
I did a little research on Tracey and became extremely impressed with her, and her evolution as a woman and job seeker. The Penn State graduate worked tirelessly as an intern at Mashable, where she focused building and facilitating Mashable's social media presence for the business vertical – that is basically controlling the channels for Mashable Business on Facebook, Mashable's LinkedIn account, and the @MashBusiness handle on Twitter. She did so well at her internship, that a position was created for her–but the road to success didn't come without its struggles.
Finding a job can be extremely difficult, and being laid off doesn't instill the highest level of confidence in us. Tracey is someone that went through a rough unemployment period, but eventually with her faith and persistence, she was able to land her dream job. In a recent interview with Tracey, she took me to church and back and humbly shared her story of literally starting from the bottom and persevering.
Here are a few things that I learned and that inspired me about Tracey's story.
She was unemployed for nine months, and during that time applied to more than 167 jobs!
I went to Penn State University from 2009 to 2013, majored in Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Sociology. After I graduated in 2013, I came across a job that was in social media marketing that I truly loved. After six months of working there, there was an unexpected series of layoffs, and I was let go. I found myself unemployed for nine months. This was a really, really hard struggle for me because I'm the type of person that is a true overachiever. When this happened to me, I had nothing else to lean on, but my faith.
As a Christian, I know how important it is trust God when things around you aren't working out. While unemployed, I felt like I turned into a full-time ministry student; I attended numerous bible studies and stayed prayerful, all the while applying to jobs consistently. Nine months after being unemployed, I realized I had applied to over 167 jobs!
When I couldn't land a job, I dove into a deep depression – every day was a struggle, even to just get out of bed – I wasn't eating properly or taking care of myself. The only thing that carried me through was building up my faith and learning how to trust God in the good times and the bad.
After nine months of being unemployed, I interviewed with Mashable for a social media internship for their business sector. As an intern, I was determined to show them what I was about, and to prove why I deserved to be on the team indefinitely. After nine months of interning, I was offered a full-time position when there wasn't a guaranteed full-time position available at the beginning of the internship – they created a position for me!
During this time, I learned the importance of staying steadfast amidst the storm. There were times when I wanted to give up, and quit all of my trying. Especially during the sixth and seventh month of being unemployed, submitting job application after application, I was tired of reaching out to people and not hearing back. I realized that it's important to stay true to yourself and keep your faith. Just because your time isn't right now doesn't mean that it's never going to happen. Getting the internship at Mashable showed me why all of the other jobs that I applied to never worked out. This is where I'm supposed to be. This is where God is opening doors for me. I'm learning a lot, and I'm in an amazing environment.
[Tweet "Just because your time isn't right now doesn't mean that it's never going to happen."]
She created #Bizchats to stand out as an intern
#BizChats is the closest thing I have to a child. Starting it up from scratch was scary and exhilarating all at the same time. The responsibility of keeping #BizChats going rests on my shoulders. In addition to my daily duties as a Social Media Assistant, I brainstorm the questions, reach out to influencers, schedule Twitter promotions, run the chat, write the articles. I'm super proud to see how far it has come.
She started #BizChats without a background in business
Starting #BizChats for Mashable was definitely a challenge. Please note, I didn't go to Penn State for business, so when this internship was presented to me, I was kind of apprehensive to take it because I wasn't sure if I could truly deliver. As an intern, I knew that Mashable was looking to bring the conversation of business to our audience, compiled of millennials and young adults. We wanted to find new ways to talk about business and make it fun, fresh and engaging. Stepping in as an intern, I personally had a big misconstrued view of business. When I was creating the idea of #BizChats, I sat down and asked myself, 'As a consumer (and a millennial), what is it that I wanted to know about business?' After launching the first #BizChats Twitter chat, I noticed that it didn't matter what field you were in professionally, everyone is just looking for ways to better themselves – and this is how #BizChats found its footing. I believe what differentiates our Twitter chat from any of the others is that we are really about providing information to our audience to make them a better version of themselves. You don't have to be the cream of the crop to get this information. It is for people at any level of their career, and we provide tools and information necessary for them to be the best professionals that they can be.
#BizChats caters to everyone navigating the business world, not just big wigs
Some of the topics that we have discussed in #BizChats include: freelancing, job hunting, how to pay for college, cleaning up your credit score, how to excel as an entrepreneur, company qualtrics, how to turn ideas into a business, LinkedIn, networking dos and don'ts, work-life balance, the basics of business planning, budgeting, personal branding, and much more.
She's breaking barriers as a young Black woman in digital media.
One of the things that I struggled with when I was unemployed was the feeling of rejection I felt after putting in so much time and effort into job applications and not hearing back. I'm the type of person that is an over-achiever – I have a personal portfolio, a personal website, I'm the one that's always super analytical over my resume as well as my LinkedIn, so I couldn't understand why I wasn't hearing back from anyone. It's a catch-22 for not only young millennials that graduated from college and are looking to get their foot in any door, but it's even harder for women of color. There is a saying that I take with me wherever I go, and that saying is: 'you are always being watched.' When you take that saying and apply it to a woman of color, it's multiplied and magnified so much more. Not only are the barriers to entry even higher, but I also feel that sometimes people are watching to see what women of color are really about.
I do have to say that Mashable is more diverse than people would think. Mashable is embracing the fact that and understanding the benefits of bringing together a diverse staff, both professionally and culturally.
She stood out by stepping up
As a young Black woman, for me it is about always going above and beyond. When I say this I mean not always staring at the clock, waiting on 6 o'clock to come, and then just leave right away. If there is something that needs to be done, I'm volunteering, or if there are extra assignments to complete, I'm up for it. Also, not just being the status quo and typical employee - if you are just doing what you are told, that's not enough anymore. Thinking outside of the box, and trying to bring something new to the table shows that you care and that's really what #BizChats was for me. That was my challenge, my risk, my opportunity to go above and beyond, and it paid off greatly.
[Tweet "I believe in going beyond the status quo in life."]
Staying ahead of the curve helped her get her first job
In my first year of college, I knew that LinkedIn was going to be something that employers would pay attention to. For me, having a LinkedIn early on was super important because I was able to easily keep track of all of my accolades from freshman to senior year. It wasn't like I had to sit down senior year, and scramble and dig together everything that I had done in college.
She owns her name, literally.
Another thing that I did early on was I bought my own name. When I say this, I mean I bought my own domain name. Doing so was very important for me. Everyone has their own unique name and it is very important while in school to build your online presence because that's where employers are going to be looking. When you buy your domain name, you can then use hosting sites like wix.com, or squarespace.com, to build yourself a personal website. When creating your domain, don't forget to be consistent. Make it something along the lines of: [first and last name] [dot] com. Include your unique website on your business cards and resume, too. Having that consistency will make it easier for recruiters to find you not have to become Nancy Drew to find anything out about you.
At this point in your life, you are in charge of showing your best qualities, so why not take advantage of that early on? By the time you reach your junior in college, you'll already be ahead of the game.
She suggests having a bomb (professional) headshot to attract recruiters
Find a friend that can take really nice photos with a good camera and get some headshots taken. Once this is done, really take the time to build a website that you are proud of so that you can also show off your talents, accomplishments, and what you are passionate about in a unique way. At the end of the day when you are applying to jobs, and your resume pops up in a recruiter's inbox, rest-assured you will be researched. People are going to Google you, and they are going to look up your social media because they want to see what you are about. It is good to already have that online presence there and in a positive manner.
She sends thank you videos instead of thank you cards
In college, having my own website and a LinkedIn account helped me stand apart from others. Another thing, when it comes to interviewing and job fairs, I personally feel that thank you cards have become the new vanilla. I'm saying that because very rapidly we are turning into a video-centric society. There are so many unique ways to show appreciation after an interview or meeting. After every interview that I went to, I made the interviewer a personalized thank you video. They weren't long, maybe like 30-40 seconds long -- tops. Please note, it wasn't hard to do, and if I can do it, anyone can. I'm not a video editing guru. I just used my iPhone and couple books for propping purposes. In my videos, I bring up several key points I shared with the interviewer from our conversation and thank them for their time. I upload the videos onto YouTube on a private account, and get the link and send them the video.
[Tweet "Sending thank you videos is the new 'it' thing after interviews."]
When I sent my thank you video to my first boss, I was offered the job the same day! She told me she had never seen such a creative response to send a thank you message. I personally think that creating thank you videos shows your commitment, your talent, and your passion. Yes it takes more work, but at the end of the day, if you want the job, it will be worth it. It shows that you don't mind taking a step up. Recruiters expect thank you cards all the time. You want to be the one to present the unexpected – you want to show recruiters that there is more to you than just the status quo.
Her spirituality keeps her motivated
A verse that I hold near and dear to me is from Proverbs 3: 5-6. It reads, “Trust in the lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your understanding. In all your ways, submit to Him and He will make your path straight." This for me was my mantra when I was unemployed and it still is now.
When I got laid off, I was devastated and I didn't know what the future would hold. This scripture spoke to me and it taught me that no matter what's going on, the Lord has my best interests in mind. Even when the path you're traveling isn't leading where you expected, you have to trust Him.
I encourage other young women who are in college to stay prayerful and stand in the truth that the Lord knows where they are at in all situations. Please know that if you seek God first He will make your path straight in all situations and fulfill the desires of your heart.
She's inspiring other women not to give up on their dreams
I hope to inspire other women to not give up. As painful as your journey may be, emotionally, professionally, spiritually, you have to know that there's beauty in the pain and it's all a part of growing character. The Lord doesn't waste painful situations -- I truly believe that. Every situation that you go through, whether it is good or bad, is for a divine purpose.