Earlier this spring, I had the exciting opportunity to speak to Drexel University’s Her Campus chapter as a panelist for a Women in Journalism discussion. When the Her Campus Drexel team reached out to me, I honestly thought they had the wrong person. My day job is in marketing, which is definitely media-related, but it’s not what I expected to build my career in when I was studying journalism. (Actually, at Fordham, marketing wasn’t even included as a communications concentration — it was a business major!)
Honestly, I was tempted to decline the invitation — what advice do I have offer soon-to-be college grads, when my professional life hasn’t gone as planned? Then, I remembered that my New Year’s resolution was to push myself, so I said yes. I put the panel on the back burner, and the week of the event I found out who else was on the panel: Katy Zachry, a NBC10 reporter; Jenice Armstrong, a Daily News columnist; Aubrey Nagle, a Philly Voice producer…and me. I freaked out again, sucked it up and went along with it.
Being back on campus, even if it wasn’t my college campus, was bizarre, especially since I now felt an expectation to be some sort of authority figure. Two years ago, I was still a student, feeling over school but also over my head about the real world. So I totally surprised myself when I had answers to students’ questions, and when they seemed to be receptive to some of my advice. Just craziness.
Listen, I never really wrote about it much here, because I was too busy living it, but the college graduation transition is difficult. There are so many decisions to make, and I ended up choosing my personal life over my professional life. It may have seemed unwise to some, but it didn’t mean I was entirely discounting the latter for the former. I was not in the place where I was ready to throw away a relationship to pursue a difficult career path I wasn’t 200% sure about (because that’s the attitude you need to make it in print or digital journalism). Of course, ideally, I wouldn’t have to choose, but that’s not how life works. I think it’s good for young women (and men) to hear that, and know that it’s okay to make the unpopular choice.
Since I made that choice in my own life, I’ve had my moments of doubt and uncertainty, but I haven’t had regrets. There were sacrifices I was willing to make (leaving New York) and sacrifices where I drew the line (uprooting every 1-2 years to move to a different market). Being able to say that aloud to a crowd of 30 or so students, though, made me realize how much I meant it. Afterwards, Katy and Jenice (who are well-establsihed in their respective careers) told me how interesting they found my perspective, and I was super appreciative of that.
And obviously, I learned lots from my fellow panelists (I mean, I’m only 24). I think HC Drexel did a great job organizing the event, because we were four women in different media tracks at completely different points in our careers. It was inspiring hearing how Katy and Jenice dealt with inequalities in the workplace (not so great that that’s still an issue…). Our advice on how students can get started in the media world was also so different, which was pretty cool. One student even came up to me afterwards to ask more questions, which was the coolest!
Thanks again Kiarah and the whole HC Drexel for having me! It was a great learning experience, and I hope the students got as much out of the evening as I did.