Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back to the drawing board

Since my last post life has changed drastically. After being a reporter for five years, I decided to venture into digital media and social media management. Mainly because my mother's business, which I was also co-managing, needed to join the wave of the future to increase sales.
What began as the creation of a Page and teachings of basic social media use, developed into a small business and a passion to help local business owners, like my mom. Freelancing turned to consulting and within a year I was searching for full-time community management, content creation and social media monitoring jobs. The search was successful and I find myself working as a digital media manager nowadays, in a corporate communications team. I miss journalism, I won't lie about that. I miss a newsroom and the liberty to find, pitch and report my own stories. However, there's a beauty in learning how to maneuver in a hierarchy to stand out within a company with thousands of employees.
The process has been tough but insightful. I've felt shunned by my journo peers, but have met brilliant new marketing and PR pals. It has been a drastic year of changes. Fortunately, change is good and if we adapt to it life will be better. That is my current Energizer motto, "keep going, change is good." Reinforcement of this came last week when I attended the fourth Young Women in Digital (#YWD) meet-up at Communispace. A dear friend of mine, NaEun Park, introduced me to the first event as one of the supporting creators of this quickly-growing, ladies-only networking group.
Honestly, I attended that first event because I needed contacts in the digital marketing and PR field; no longer a journo, I had no mentor or area colleagues who could understand what I was talking about when I mentioned "analytics" or "outreach campaign" and offer constructive criticism. Sure, when I was consulting my friends "got" what I did, but a full-time job representing a large brand is a whole other ball-game. When I spoke of my job with friends I imagined those memes mocking social media jobs running through their minds and worriedly thinking, oh Lord they think I'm a hack.
After the first event was over I realized #YWDBoston was good for more than meeting industry contacts to brainstorm with, I could also make new friends. This might seem obvious, but when you think about the prospect of being in a room full of women for three hours, venting and discussing and mentally analyzing each other, you may understand why I was doubtful of the prospect. Rooms full of women from grade school to graduate school were based on competition, competition for the teacher's attention, for the student government position, for the best internship or for the story.  Once in the work force, rooms full of women were based on survival, survival at a social gathering to get a guy's attention or survival at a sale to get those last size 7 boots for $40. Sad? Yes. True? As well.
Although I have meaningful, long-lasting, strong friendships with exceptional women, they, too, are weary of too much estrogen on their day-to-day lives. Therefore, the notion of attending a networking event to find a new female friend was not really my prerogative. But that's where #YWDBoston did things right. Melanie Cohn, the group's founder, expressed that women need to support each other professionally, competing together, to move forward efficiently, and survive as a whole. Sounds dramatic, huh? Her words were not these exact ones but the message certainly was, stop thinking about coming out first and come out as a collective. Right now, young girls are getting more Math and Science Education (STEM) teaching and they need role models to believe they can become leaders in the workforce one day. I am certainly not an engineer but I can understand the urgency in helping a female developer get a job within my company, and encourage her to pay it forward, to influence a girl who is on the fence about math.
That night the mood changed and my perspective did as well, and that night I met the lovely Susie Concannon, who is becoming a new friend and brainstorming buddy! That night I was convinced to return for more. During this month's fourth event Melanie and her wonder ladies organized a stellar panel. Adri Cowan, Public Relations Manager at Springpad, Celie Hart, Content Editor at Hill Holiday, Tamrah Collins, Marketing Manager for Intercontiental Hotel, and Emily Mahlman, Account Supervisor at Mullen, spoke earnestly about the highs and lows of working in the digital world. From marketing and content creation to customer service and team management. Each lady helped us all feel truly welcome, driving Melanie's point- that we're here to help each other- home.
I was happy to share the night with my fellow digital marketer and friend since Introduction to Public Speaking at Northeastern, woot-woot, Sarah Taylor. My favorite part of the night was meeting a fellow journo who went to the 'dark side' and is now enjoying her career in marketing. The most useful part of the night, aside from the great panel advice, was learning about new apps to try.
Taken from the #YWDBoston blog:
Change, although beneficial, can be tough to manage. When you have a network to support you, that change feels like a smooth transition. Even if your network is made up of one or two people. I am reaching this transition phase now. I know I love journalism, but I also know I'm good at this digital gig.
I can do my job and I will grow within my "new" field, but I have to do it with the support of others while supporting others. If those others happen to be fabulous women of Massachusetts, even better.