Although I write about pre-meditated adventures each week, our every-day lives are already adventures aren’t they? Tuesday felt like one to me, or maybe metamorphosis is a more accurate word to use. I was asked to be a part of a panel discussion at a meeting of Young Women in Digital, a Boston-based networking organization of…yes, you guessed it, young women who are living or working in the digital space. The panel was focused on how to get to the next level in your career.
I wrote to the organizer asking if she was sure she wanted me? While I do work in the digital realm, I really consider myself a writer. But yes, she was sure that my diverse experience (journalism, digital, PR, blogging) would make me a great panelist. So I said yes, partially because, let’s be honest, I was pretty excited to know that I’m still considered a young woman.
I arrived at Communispace in Boston, and after some initial mingling, and a glass of liquid courage, I took my seat at the front of the room with my fellow panelists: Celie Hart of Hill Holiday, Tamrah Collins of the Intercontinental Hotel and Adri Cowan a Google alum, currently at Springpad. Talk about a great group of ladies representing a very diverse skill set.
The panel began and we spoke about our experience, our favorite social platforms, and what young women can do to get to the next level in their careers. This was the first time I have been seen as any sort of expert on a stage like this. It felt very adultish. It was particularly interesting to be doling out career advice because the majority of us under, let’s say 40, are all constantly trying to get to the next level in our career no matter what that next level is. Myself included. I didn’t prepare remarks, I spoke from my heart and from my experience, and it turns out I had some very unique words of wisdom (would you expect anything else from me?), judging from the audience members live tweeting during the event. Here’s a sample:
Yes, I advised these lovely ladies to figure out what they love to do, and what they are good at and try to marry those two into a career. That’s pretty good advice if I do say so myself! I went on to tell them to embrace their “kooky skills,” which while I probably could have said that in a slightly more articulate way, I stand behind. Working on this blog (not to mention at my day job) I meet people every day who have done just that and are making it work for them, whether as a career, or in their free time. And doing what they love, no matter how “kooky,” makes them feel fulfilled and happy.
Here are a few more:
I also told the crowd that good writing is still important, whether it’s in 140 characters, 140 words or 140 pages. I have to believe that in today’s world of LOL and YOLO, it’s still important to be able to express yourself clearly and, at times, elegantly. I also told these young ladies to carry themselves in a professional manner, no matter how casual their work environment is. I think this is essential, particularly for women in the workplace. Maybe I should not have told them that co-workers should not be able to see your underwear, but I wanted to give a clear example of what I was talking about.
It struck me that I sound like my mother circa 1996 telling a teenage me that I look like a “ragamuffin” when I would roll my kilt obscenely high, showing off the boxer shorts I was wearing underneath at school (don’t judge, this look was a Springside standard). Or maybe I just sound like a wiser, and only slightly older (but still very young) woman reminiscing on the lessons I learned that helped me get me to this interesting place in my career. I have described my career as a long strange trip (thank you Jerry): I am a former journalist, current blogger, marketer, and it seems some would say a digital professional. I would never have expected my career—not to mention my life—to take so many fascinating twists and turns, but it sure has been fun. And I’m soooo young, so there is tons more fun to come.
Thank you to Melanie Cohn and Women In Digital. I had a blast sharing my experiences with you, thank you for having me. I think it is essential for women to reach back and help those coming up behind us, so it was a true pleasure to meet so many smart and talented women on Tuesday night. I was not compensated in any way for this post.
So awesome, Emily. Great advice.