I'm a former startup consultant turned digital media planner based in Brooklyn, NY. Here, I share opinions on the workplace, my love for food and travel, and crowdsource advice/lessons for valuable discussions.

Learn more about me below.

Teach Newark is live!
The Opportunities Project has invited me to run a new social media recruitment campaign for the Newark Public Schools system. I’m excited, scared, but hopeful to get my feet wet in the world of education reform. I’m also interested in talking with young people who are entering the workforce as teachers at such a difficult time and environment. Have any input?
Give us a follow on Twitter and be our fan on Facebook.
I look forward to the challenge ahead!

Teach Newark is live!

The Opportunities Project has invited me to run a new social media recruitment campaign for the Newark Public Schools system. I’m excited, scared, but hopeful to get my feet wet in the world of education reform. I’m also interested in talking with young people who are entering the workforce as teachers at such a difficult time and environment. Have any input?

Give us a follow on Twitter and be our fan on Facebook.

I look forward to the challenge ahead!

Your Reputation Is Your Résumé

I wanted to quickly share some insight from last week’s post on TechnologyReview.com which presumes today’s online presence is a bigger factor in securing a job than that dry, boring resume you send out. I completely agree that having a proactive strategy to showing who you are, what you do (or want to do), and your values in a creative way using the web is far more interesting and successful than cleaning up a dated resume. Personally, I’ve landed more gigs through my Flavors.me webpage and Mashable mentions than through a resume email attachment. So can you if you take advantage of opportunities through the social web. 

Here’s what TR had to say:

"The résumé is vanishing as a way of representing who you are," says Launa Forehand of Jobspring. Jobseekers…are proving their value through participation in online communities, and employers are increasingly using those venues to find and vet candidates.

One of the most important qualities as a jobseeker today is having a genuine interest in participating in relevant conversations. Find topics to talk about your passions, and connect with like-minded people. Those communities will do wonders for contact leads and resource exchanges. 

"Being willing to share things you don’t know and seeking help in solving problems you’re working on are enormously powerful ways to attract people who share your interests."

Ask, ask, ask. Never be afraid to speak up if you don’t know where to start or are stuck on getting to that next level. Just remember to be nice, return the favor, and know your boundaries.

Earlier generations might view such naked exposure as a double-edged sword. After all, answering a question online can reveal ignorance as well as expertise. In the emerging online ecosystem, though, it may be more important to contribute to the community than to demonstrate individual mastery.

I often work with both young professionals and older-generation businessmen and women who need a boost of courage when it comes to making a digital footprint. The best advice I can offer is experiment. In the beginning, the online world is very much a trial and error system. One way to gain confidence is to map out a SWOT analysis: your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Discover a community of thought leaders, peers/friends/colleagues, and mentors around those questions to develop a support system. The more you contribute, the better your reputation.

"Community isn’t just about relationships—it’s about becoming smarter and better at what you do," says Jonathan Reed, an enterprise staffing consultant.

As a community manager to over a dozen sites in recent years, I can tell you that the most successful communities have emerged through cultivating relationships. Providing intelligent conversation starters and encouraging feedback is one of the best ways to attract audiences, whether you’re a company or a single professional. Don’t abuse those relationships.

MORE: Your Reputation is Your Resume.

For my tips on careers and business, read my contributing articles here

The End of an Era: A Freelancer’s Failure Story

My exclusive announcement is finally here: I am quitting my freelance career. 

Five years of bouncing around gigs in pursuit of an entrepreneurial dream… I quit. I’ve thought a lot about how I want to share my story publicly so it was perfect timing that Stephanie Vorhees at Crush New York approached me for an interview last week. 

I’ve been taking a long, hard look at the career path I’ve dealt with this past year. New Years Eve I laid in bed unconsolable as I tried to think of just one success from each month that had just passed by. I couldn’t. Every month seemed to end up worse than the previous and I was puzzled as to why this kept happening. Opportunities that presented themselves as meaningful, enjoyable, and promising quickly became nightmares for me. I couldn’t get things right and the line between my personal life and my professional career began to blur. Despite my best efforts, I was falling apart. 

Things were really, really bad. I was left without a place to live three times in 2012. I noticed myself becoming a different person: someone with no motivation, no trust in other people, a distracting negative attitude, and crushing stress that took a toll on me in ways I never thought imaginable. 

Five years of this crap wasn’t worth it. 

In the end, unable to look back with pride on work I had done (with a majority of roles I flat out abandoned for more reasons than one), losing my confidence and motivation to contribute my talent, and being disregarded in too many ways, I gave up. I knew that things had to change and they had to change NOW. My life depended on it. 

So, how did I quit and what am I doing now?

Getting a job is all about who you know. It’s the oldest tip in the book, and it’s absolutely true. You never know who may have an offer you can’t refuse one day, and that is exactly why I always tell people to connect with people in a meaningful way. Don’t think about business cards; think about conversation.

For me, it’s also all about timing. Good timing has always been unpredictable for me, and this time was one of those perfect times.

With no desire to stay in New York, given I had no money or guaranteed long-term offers, I was on my last leg to find an excuse to give this “career-y thing” one more shot. At my lowest of lows, that’s when I got recruited by a good friend of mine whom I had met at a travel happy hour for the opening position of Digital Sales Planner at THE WEEK and mental_floss. We know each other pretty well and have exchanged many pro-tips, attended the same tech events, and even did some bike rides together (this is my version of “networking”). No application, no job description, no experience in sales required. The job was mine if I wanted it. Salary, benefits, and paid vacation were also on the table. 

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I of course accepted. For the first time in my professional career, I felt I had made the right adult decision. I finally could see a future for myself again and could regain confidence and challenge myself to accomplish better work. As Digital Sales Planner, I am able to take all of my digital media experience creating, managing, and measuring integrated advertising programs for publishing. It’s a new world for me, but I welcome the learning curve. 

I thank every one who has followed my story and continues to follow my story no matter what successes and failures I go through along the way. I hope that I can inspire you to also find your own path and create a meaningful career, even if it takes longer than you want and requires you battle the same obstacles I had to. I welcome your comments (and congratulations) with open arms. Feel free to email me at my new address or ask a question or tweet me

In addition to working full time at mental_floss and THE WEEK, I will be teaching a five week digital career path program with The LAMP and throwing a dinner party for Melba’s New York launch. 

See you at the water cooler…

Write it down

If you’re like me, then you are an organization freak who wants to know what’s going on in all facets of your life. The same is true about my career. I am one to document just about everything I’ve ever worked on and made it known the value that I bring to the table when I enter a new gig. I would advise you do the same.

One small step you can start at: create a document (or write this in a notebook) called “What is my job?” List out everything you do on a daily basis, no matter how big or small or mundane or complicated it is. Then compare this list to the job description you’re applying to or already working at. Are you doing more than what you’re being paid for? Less? What are some new areas of expertise you’re building? What do you need help conquering? Communicate these things to peers, friends, and colleagues you trust. Get their perspective and decide if it’s time to approach your supervisor/boss/manager about a promotion or raise. Or, perhaps it’s time to change directions entirely.

Are you a freelancer juggling multiple gigs? Get a tool like Evernote to organize and prioritize your projects. Start a log with all your clips. Create templates for your portfolio that you can always use when something new has to be submitted or updated. Know what you’re working on and what’s down the pipeline at all times. This will help you clarify your role in future employment. 

Tomorrow’s tip: Stay relevant.

Have a question or topic you want me to discuss? Shoot me a note on Twitter @makeshiftalisha or send it here

Stay relevant

Now that you’ve done your homework and practiced my tips (hopefully) it’s time to keep your name in the game. This can mean a few things:

  • write, write, and write some more
  • create an online portfolio
  • go to events or host your own
  • meet new people, always

I just happen to do all of the above. It’s crucial to my career that I constantly do these so that I always have new opportunities knocking at my door. 

We females are experiencing an interesting time in the digital age. The feminist movement is pretty much back in full effect (reasons why I wanted to write this post) which means our voices are ever so important. Now it’s up to us to take back media time from the dudes, create our own work, and make things right, or at least fair and equal. One way to do this is to write about it. Keep up that blog, pitch more pieces, write in your journal, or start a newsletter. Express yourself and make it known what you value, what your goals are, and what matters to you as a professional. However you want to write - via pen and paper or digitally, get it out there.

With that, you should also have an online hub. I’ve always and will always vouch for Flavors.me as a great website to build upon. And of course I have Tumblr to vouch for. Seek out what platform makes sense for your work. Create a home online, build upon it, keep it updated, and make it grow. People will find you and connect with you from there. 

Once you’ve got a good site/blog/portfolio going, meet people in your field. I have hosted many networking sessions, panels on technology and media, and career workshops because I believe in the power of being a connector. I like connecting people of value, who can exchange skills and ideas, and collaborate on mutual goals. It’s important that you seek out people who are friendly and genuine and who can be your buddy as you carve out your own career path. Never take advantage of that

This concludes my lessons in lady biz careers. Hopefully I was able to help you navigate the waters of our modern work places. 

Have a question or topic you want me to discuss? Shoot me a note on Twitter @makeshiftalisha or send it here

Questions on Growth

Even the most seasoned professionals burn out sometimes. 

With only a few months til my one year anniversary at my current job, I am facing that familiar “now what?” debate of where I stand. I have discovered I go through phases in any position I’m working, and perhaps you do too:

First three months = the honey moon phase. In the beginning, everything is the best thing ever. Processes are fascinating, people are fun, it’s all about observing and learning, and you’re the new kid on the block who gets to use the “but I’m new” excuse to pass over the big projects that come in. 

Six months = crap, this job is hard. Here’s where you roll up your sleeves and join your co-workers in the trenches. Changes happen more times than you can count. But it’s okay, because you love your job, and you can reap the rewards soon enough.

Almost one year = question everything. Is this really what I want to be doing? Is there a better way? Do I really want to keep working with these people? Am I just a lost soul again? Can I stay afloat while everything and everyone is whizzing by? Should I shut up and deal with the fact that this is just the industry we’re all in?

I’m currently in this last phase. Anyone who knows me personally or professionally knows I march to the beat of my own drum. My Twitter bio best sums it up (h/t Louis C.K. for the quote) -

I don’t like when I’m prevented from doing things the way I think they should be done. 

So it’s no shock that I struggle to get beyond the daily grind to keep the bigger picture in mind. With that, three big questions have been on my brain, and I present them to you all to think about and answer as well:

1) How do you conquer the speed vs. efficiency challenge at work? Today’s digital-centric career calls for creative ideation and execution at an insanely rapid speed — from client responses to project deadlines, I’m having a really hard time finding a balance of producing quality work at shorter timeframes. How can we better manage these expectations?

2) What are your favorite examples of great office/work culture? What do you look for in a team? Do any companies stand out? How can us “little people” (i.e. low/mid-level employees) shape better culture in our own offices?

3) How do you hide your personal attitudes in the workplace? If/when you find yourself in disagreement with a coworker or client about something, how do you (literally) save face? I always joke and call myself the ”Larry David” of the office because I can’t fake nice and can’t hide my emotions. However, this is not good for professional development. What practical tips do you use in the workplace to get through these situations?

4) What’s the key to longevity at a company? As I mentioned before, I seem to grow out of my honeymoon phase after a short time, then I get stressed out, battling to maintain that happy, positive outlook anymore. How can we stay in the game for the long term and not throw in the towel?

Best of luck to all of us navigating these waters.