In my previous post, I introduced the first part of my New York City weekend, detailing my Saturday excursion in anticipation for the main event of the weekend–Her Campus’s Her Conference! Without further ado, here’s a look at Sunday.
Looking back on the day-long event, it was arguably the most empowering event I’ve ever attended. Allow me to paint you a picture. The venue was in the Financial District, NYC (the Convene to be exact), with pristine white walls, industrial accents and wooden features. Tons of girls around the same age as myself were dressed “collegiate-chic” and carried Her Campus “swag bags” with tons of mini goodies and treats. The atmosphere oozed with anticipation for what the day has in store. Besides, it’s not everyday we get to listen to and meet some of the most successful people in industries like public relations and journalism.
Let’s start at the beginning–shall we? Registration for the event started at 8:30 am, which meant I had to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed well in advance if I wanted to get from Manhattan to the Financial District in time. My alarm was set for 7:00 am. That was enough time for me to wash up, get dressed, apply makeup, have a quick coffee and for my aunt to catch me a cab (to pick up Emily at her hotel) all before 8:00 am. I should probably add that, that was my first time taking a cab by myself. I’m basically a New Yorker now, right?
I met up with Emily, and soon we were on our way (via taxi) to The Convene. Once we found the building we took two huge escalators to the second floor, to which we were greeted by so many young women. Seriously, I’ve never seen that many girls in one room at one time. Upon registering, we were given a lanyard with name tags, a black journal that read “Do What Makes You Happy” and a tote bag with the Her Campus logo on it, commonly known as swag bags, filled with mini beauty samples, body washes, coupons from their sponsors and so much more.
Thankfully, the notebook had a schedule for the events of the day so we were always on time and on track. At 9:30 we had the first keynote speaker of the day–Lisa Arbetter, Editor of People StyleWatch. Yes, we got front row seats. And yes, we also did fangirl. Some things we learned from Lisa:
- Great leaders aren’t born–they are made.
- Plan, but prepare for those plans to change…and change again.
- Shut up and do good work.
- What you fear will happen, will happen. And you will live.
- Be decisive. You can always change your mind.
Lisa soothed our worried souls and over-thinking minds, especially when it comes to figuring out life after college and post-grad jobs. During the Q/A, she touched on topics such as: how to build confidence in the fashion industry, how to deal with bad bosses, the staple clothing item every girl should have (hey ladies, it’s a black blazer), her thoughts on the future of fashion magazines (they aren’t going anywhere), how to network, as well as how to stay grounded in the fast-paced fashion industry.
After the first keynote speaker, we chose to attend a PR related panel titled, “What ‘I work in PR’ really means” for the first session. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. We met four PR ladies, Rachel Jerome- Account Executive with Mission Media, Suzette M. Martinez-Malavet- Account Executive with BLJ Worldwide, Colleen Wormsley- PR & Talent Relations Manager with DoSomething.org and Krista Tietjen- Account Executive with Sunshine Sachs. Some things I took away from these talented ladies:
- That not everyone is cut out for the job, only those who are passionate.
- PR is consuming and demanding–but well worth the effort.
- The ability to make and maintain relationships is key.
The second session I went to was titled “Climbing the Ladder: Journalism Jobs Later On”. We met Andrea Stanley- Senior Editor at Seventeen Magazine, Rachel Silver- Social Media Director at Birchbox, Amy Odell- Editor of Cosmopolitan.com and Dan Koday- Editor-at-Large for Time Inc./MIMI. There, they spoke about how they arrived at the positions they hold now and what it takes to work in journalism as well as how to manage those who are working in journalism. Many of the panelists noted how they started at the bottom and had to adjust to not necessarily making content, but instead managing those who do. They also stressed some things they look for in potential interns:
- Good interns should beg for work. Don’t just wait for it.
- Be passionate, personable and positive. No one can warm up to a stone cold face all the time.
- Have good ideas and be obsessed with social media. (this works for me since I already am lol)
- Be punctual–but I think that goes without saying.
Next, was lunch which was sponsored by Chipotle! So you already know I was all about those burrito bowls. After lunch we had our second keynote speaker, Terri McCullough the Director of No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project. While she told us about her organization, she didn’t go into much detail about what she does specifically as director, which I was disappointed about. But hey, at least we learned more about the organization.
The next session was titled, “The Evolution of Success”, with Joan Kuhl, President and Founder of Why Millennials Matter. She stressed the idea that if we as women in the workforce band together, the workplace would be an easier, more efficient environment to work in. Which begs the question: why can’t we accelerate the “me” mindset and also include others? This session was refreshing, uplifting and motivating especially for us young women who aspire to reach our full potential. Some things I took away from Joan’s presentation was:
- With self belief anything is possible.
- Relationships matter!!!
- The differences and similarities of mentors and sponsors.
By this point in the day I was blown away with everything I had learned already and more importantly–how much I learned about myself. However, it wasn’t over just yet. For the final keynote, Laura Brounstein, Special Projects Director for Cosmopolitan Magazine, introduced the finale of the day: #ActuallySheCan: Reaching Your Full Potential. The #ActuallySheCan campaign strives to instill in young women that they can actually do anything they put their minds too. Hence, actually she can. Laura’s speech was about always working to the best of our abilities and reaching our highest potential, regardless of the voices in our own heads. This left the entire room in awe of the charismatic woman who Laura is.
Soon after, the entire conference was invited to take a group picture. Some girls (including myself) were handed signs that read, for example: “Just here for the dance floor” with the #ActuallySheCan hashtag on the bottom. With all the girls from the conference in one large huddle we all immediately started introducing ourselves. Was it because we were all trying to process the events of the past few hours or the lack of elbow room? Who knows, but what I do know is, that in that moment I truly felt unstoppable.
I know, that is the most cliché statement anyone could say after going to an event such as Her Conference, but then again, how else am I supposed to feel? From 8:30 am to around 5:15 pm, I was not only surrounded by powerful women in industries across the board who made me feel invincible, but also young women who share similar dreams as myself and found the words of the panelists just as inspiring.
From meandering New York City to listening in on the best advice from women I aspire to be like–this has truly been a weekend I will never forget. I managed to take my very first train ride (it’s been a long time coming) and meet Editors of major magazine companies all in just two short days. Trust me, I’m still in shock–but the good kind of shock. Her Campus’s Her Conference event left me with the kind of shock I’m supposed to feel when I know I am making the best decisions for my present and future self–and I couldn’t be any happier than I am right now.