Founder & President, NY Creative Interns
Posted on: August 5, 2012 | Go to profile
As a young woman passionate about the arts, building community, and creating opportunities, Emily founded NY Creative Interns, the largest Meetup for interns and recent grads in the country. The organization empowers young creatives to find job opportunities, mentors, and inspiration through their events, blog and highly curated job board. An advocate of the power of social media, Emily has led workshops and participated in panels for SXSW Interactive, Columbia University, Mediabistro, and Internet Week New York, among others.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: I graduated from the Hofstra University design program in 2010 and the Fine Arts Department is like family to me. Because of the challenging economy, many of my talented creative classmates were discouraged about finding a job they’d be passionate about. Since I had a lot of internship experience, they came to me looking for internship and job advice. I found myself taking their pursuits personally and from then on, I knew I wanted to start something that would help young creative people find their dream jobs.
With the encouragement of my professors and the career center, I organized “Not All Artists Are Starving, A Night of Networking.” We brought in creative professionals to share their experiences and advice with current students. The event was a huge success and the experience was a catalyst for starting NY Creative Interns.
I didn’t have a job upon graduation so I was proactive and took two unpaid internships in New York City and attended lots of industry events. Meeting people at events and finding mentors proved to be extremely powerful for my career, which confirmed my vision of promoting the power of networking and mentorship.
NY Creative Interns was born from thousands of conversations and connections. We quickly became the largest Meetup for interns and recent graduates in the country and launched a highly curated job board in July 2012.
Q: Can you share a story of how networking led to a great success?
A: One of my favorite networking stories is how I met Amy Vernon, a social media expert and self proclaimed Bacon Queen. During SXSW interactive, a big music and film festival in Austin, Texas, I was in a blogger lounge charging my laptop. I overheard Amy talking to another person about social media sites like Digg and Stumbleupon. Since I knew I could learn a lot from her, I asked her for some tips after her previous conversation was finished. We connected through email shortly after.
I interviewed her for my blog, later invited her to speak as a panelist for a NY Creative Interns event and again as a panelist for a session I organized at Columbia University’s Social Media Weekend. Amy enjoyed her experience on my panels so much that she encouraged me to submit a panel for SXSW Interactive’s Panel Picker. We were thrilled to be chosen. It was the first time speaking at SXSW for both of us. The whole experience felt very full circle.
Q: What are your top 3 tips for networking?
A: 1. Never be afraid to reach out to people you admire. Just be sure to be smart about it by doing research, asking specific questions and respecting their time.
2. Following-up is as important as meeting people in the first place. Be sure to connect with people you meet within 24 hours, if possible, and include something you spoke about to remind them of your conversation.
3. Touch base with mentors and people you’ve met every few months by emailing relevant articles, or passively through social media (like re-tweeting someone or including them in a #FF tweet).
Q: A great negotiation can be game changing for one’s business or life. Studies have shown that men are much more comfortable negotiating and asking for what they want compared to women. What’s your advice to women who are uncomfortable negotiating?
A: Practice out loud. It may feel silly, but becoming comfortable with what you’re going to say ahead of time is extremely helpful in the negotiation process. You don’t need to plan a whole speech, but you can rehearse certain phrases and prepare responses based on questions you expect to answer.
ON Career Transitions
Q: Many people become discontent with their current career yet are too afraid or reluctant to make a change. What’s your best advice for women in this situation?
A: Have a plan in place. Taking a step in a new direction will be less nerve-racking if you have a solid (at least a semi-solid) ground to land on. Your plan could be anything from having a new job lined up to building a support network of peers who are aware of your goals and will be able to help you in the transition process.
Q: What do you feel separates your brand from your competitors?
A: While most internship sites focus on the online application, NY Creative Interns focuses on the power of real life connections. We strive to produce great learning and networking experiences; and we believe we’re the only group of our kind.
Q: Who has been your greatest mentor(s)?
A: I have a lot of amazing people in my life whom I consider mentors, including my entire family. One person who’s always been particularly supportive is my colleague and friend, Simon Kirk. I met him soon after I graduated from college when I volunteered to do social media work for his nonprofit, Techies Give Back. We’ve worked together on a handful of projects and he’s always led me to great opportunities, including a job as Community Manager at RecordSetter. You know someone is rooting for you when they are constantly introducing you to people they respect.
Q: Do you (formally or informally) mentor anyone? If so, who and why is it rewarding?
A: Mentoring is an important part of my life. Having great mentors has been extremely helpful in my own career so I do my best to pay it forward. I like to act as an informal mentor to all the volunteers on the NY Creative Interns team, which is hugely rewarding. Many of our volunteers have gone on to start jobs or internships as a result of connections made from their involvement in our group. Plus, those mentor relationships go both ways. We’re constantly learning and growing based on volunteer involvement and input.
ON Starting Out
Q: If you had a young sister or a daughter who was a senior in college, anxious about landing her first job or unsure of what she wanted to do, what would your advice be to her?
A: My advice would be to start reaching out to companies and people who you think are doing great things. It’s important to work for an organization you believe in and with people you want to learn from. Connecting with the right people is a key step to launching a great career.
ON Taking Risk
Q: How do you overcome feelings of insecurity, fear or discomfort when deciding to take a risk?
A: I surround myself with extremely supportive people who don’t let me dwell on setbacks and encourage me to focus on opportunities.
ON Time Management
Q: Online calendars, emailing ourselves, post-it notes… I’m still struggling to find the best way to manage my time and to do list? What’s your method?
A: I do my best to focus on my to-do list (which might live in a notebook, on my iPhone, a sticky note, or an email draft) each day before responding to emails. Also, the morning is when I get my most difficult tasks out of the way. That’s when I find myself super focused.
Q: What are the top 3 things that you do to stay healthy?
A: I start every day with a 20 minute workout. It might not seem like much, but consistency is what counts.
Q: In the world, what are your 3 favorite restaurants?
A: Bareburger, Peanut Butter and Co., and Birch Coffee. All in New York City, of course.
Q: What is the most valuable lesson your mother taught you?
A: One of the most valuable lessons my mother taught me was the importance of writing thank you letters. She forced me to write them as a child, but in doing so she taught me why. Nothing great ever happens because of a single person, so it’s important to share your gratitude and acknowledge others. To this day I try to write handwritten thank you notes as much as possible. In this overwhelmingly digital world, receiving a letter via snail mail means a lot to people. It’s a great way to set yourself apart from others.