Getting your foot in the door and climbing the ladder in media can be a challenge: The industry is always changing, career paths can be ambiguous and social media never sleeps.
To help you find your way, and learn by example, we’re talking to real, live media pros with a few years under their belts. Our Advice from the Pros series will give you real-world insights and advice you can apply to your job search, job interview, and, when you land your next gig, on the job too.
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Though you may not know Nefertiti Anderson, if you’re a regular Mediabistro user, you know her work. A native New Yorker, Anderson, is Mediabistro’s marketing coordinator, a job she’s held for a year; she’s charged not only with keeping our marketing department running with clock-like precision, but also bringing creativity and energy to our social media campaigns.
Anderson is also a brand strategist and video correspondent who spends her downtime interviewing young, accomplished professionals in creative fields. She started her Path Less Traveled Series, which she posts on YouTube, in 2014 after being laid off; within a year, the series netted a radio deal offer, syndication on a career website, and press coverage.
What was your first job? And your first real job?
My first job was at an elementary school, where I was a custodial aid. My first real job was at my alma mater, Adelphi University, where I worked as a social media correspondent. It was a position that didn’t exist before; as a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in communications, I couldn’t find a job in my field, so instead of waiting for someone to give me an opportunity, I created my own and pitched the idea of this new role. My responsibilities included on-site reporting, filming and editing of major career- related events and programs at the university, as well as social media management.
What did you do to stand out when applying for your current job?
One of my unique selling points is that I’m already an established brand, and the primary demo of my audience just so happens to be the demo that Mediabistro’s trying to reach (millennials). An untapped opportunity that I communicated and have now resolved is the company’s presence on Instagram. The vision for my five-year trajectory in this role includes implementation of a brand ambassador program so people in high school and college can learn about our services in the early stages of their career planning.
Is this where you always thought you’d end up?
My career has had its share of curveballs but I live by the motto “everything that happens to you happens for you.” Ultimately, I would like to have my own nationally syndicated talk show. Everything that I go through, planned or not, gives me the tools I need to reach that goal and have career longevity.
What made you want to pursue this role?
I like to help others bridge the gap between setting goals and reaching them. My position allows me to do that, not just within the company, but also with its social media audience.
What about your job gets you excited to jump out of bed every morning? What about the job makes you want to hide under the sheets?
What’s your favorite thing about working at your company?
Besides the benefits and office space? I really love the team bonding, such as trips to the U.S. Open, happy hour on the water at Pier 66 and themed parties in our big office kitchen.
How do you stay on top of trends in your field?
I’m always on social media so naturally, that’s the first place that I get my news. Some of the accounts that I follow to stay inspired and in the know are @heragenda, @emmeliedelacruz, @mattieologie and @balleralert. I get my industry news using Feedly, a news aggregator app. Some of my favorite outlets/publications to read are Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur, The Buffer Blog, Mashable and the Hollywood Reporter.
What are you reading and/or watching right now?
I’m reading Make Yourself Marketable by Emmelie De La Cruz, and I watch everything Shonda Rhimes makes—besides Grey’s Anatomy.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about marketing and social media?
The biggest misconception that people have about marketing is that social media is optional, both as a platform and as a skill. You can’t just put your head down, do your work and succeed. Marketing is a very social role. Digital and people skills are required.
What skills should a job seeker have when applying for a marketing or social media role?
You have to know how to measure social analytics and write really good copy. And it helps to have project management skills too.
What advice would you give to someone looking to break into this field?
Do the job that you wish to get in the future, today. You no longer need to wait for others to give you an opportunity. Do what you can, with what you have. It shows initiative, it will help you hone your skills, and by the time you get the opportunity you’ve been hoping for, you’ll be ready for it.
What tips do you have for those seeking mentorships?
Get your feet wet first. Clarity comes from movement. Your mentors can only help you as much as you’re willing to help yourself. Have an idea of what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how they can help.