Finding a purpose

So I wrote this post over a week ago, but was sitting on it because it felt so unresolved. Now it might be resolved and I’m relieved. 

I’m at a fork in the road. An impasse. Basically I’m stuck. I’ve always had a purpose and right now I feel like I don’t. None other than to graduate from MIT, but that’s nearly done.

In high school, I wanted to do well in class and stay busy so that I wasn’t around home. Between my parents splitting up and my mom starting to drink, I liked to stay away as much as possible. I volunteered and took college classes and did all the National Honor Society stuff that a good student does.

In college, all my focus went towards Program Board and Student Government. I loved having an impact on the student body and contributing to the overall experience of my classmates. Student Government in particular gave me a great glimpse into the bureaucracy of business and I loved it.

After graduating, I remember going through a struggle similar to the one I am now. It was the first time I was embarking on a time of my life that wasn’t pre-determined. What I did after college was a blank canvas and I was nervous about that. It wasn’t a terribly long struggle though, because I had my job lined up before I graduated and started my corporate gig that summer.

Even then I found more ways to be involved. First, I started this blog. Second, I joined Girls in Tech and started giving a lot of my time to volunteering. It was a great experience and something I miss dearly. I tried getting involved with similar organizations while in Boston, but nothing has been the right fit.

Starting at MIT was a tad overwhelming. The classes were a lot of work and I got involved with a few groups, but I never felt like I was making an impact. Even when I was all in on the Its on Us campaign, the Women’s Advisory Group, and the Title IX Working Group, I didn’t feel like my efforts mattered. I’ve come to the realization that I have no idea where I’ll be living in a few months or what I’ll be doing and that’s hard. It’s also difficult to get out of bed every day when I’m not actively contributing to something I’m crazy excited about. I’m excited to find that next thing again soon. 

The next day though, I made a trip to NYC to meet with people in the entertainment industry. I ended up landing an opportunity to work with a small entertainment advisory firm. I’m going to be doing some really neat analytics work for identifying successful content before it airs. If it ends up being a perfect fit and I like the company and the company likes me, maybe it turns into a job. Even if it just working on extremely awesome analytics that focuses on content featuring strong females and meetings some really great people in the industry, that sounds just awesome too.

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I’m going to be a producer!

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I went to a conference my first weekend here in LA. It was a Film in California conference and while some of it focused on tax credits specifically for filming in California, there was a lot of useful information.

The best part of the day was a panel I attended that had producers from True Blood, Ugly Betty and Mad Men, and a Vice President of Physical Production from Paramount. After hearing more about their day-to-day roles and the impact they have on the content, I decided that it is the job for me. But production isn’t the easiest part to get into, especially for math nerds without any film background. So, for the past 2 weeks I’ve been reaching out to tons of people and meeting with various production assistants and anyone else that will meet with me. The more I hear about it, the more I’m sure it’s what I want to do.

I’m even trying to line up something part-time during the school year. If I could find a local news station that needed part-time production assistance, I could feasibly do that in the morning before any of my classes. I technically could also wait until I’m done with school, but I’m impatient as fuck and want to be able to get a better job once I’m actually done. I also want to be sure it’s what I really want.

Right now, my gut is telling me I don’t want to be doing heavy strategy work. That’s pretty much the focus of my internship and I don’t know if it is the content or the work-load, but I’m not completely stimulated. Which will make for a long summer.

Things turned around!

It’s really too bad that I am so often rewarded for my ranting; it only encourages me. The day after my post about my internship frustrations, I received two internship offers for the summer. More specifically, I received an offer from a TV Network in NYC and they wanted a response within 1 business day so I applied pressure on the other company I had been speaking with to also make a decision. The pressure worked and they came to me with an offer the same day.

I went into the weekend with so much worry about the decision ahead of me. Both options were fantastic. In NYC I would be working on distribution analytics, something I’m incredibly interested in and passionate about. In LA, my job would be to manage a brand/franchise for the summer, something I have less experience in, but knew would be a great learning opportunity.

In truth, I knew my decision right away. My gut told me the LA position was the one I should take. Yet, I spent hours try to convince myself my gut was wrong, and then why it was right. I also had a lot of concern about turning a company down. I was so extremely interested in both roles though, and unfortunately I cannot be on both coasts at once. After two nights of very little sleep, I made the phone calls early Monday morning. There was that awkward time where I had declined with the East Coast but couldn’t yet reach the West Coast and was sorta concerned it would all turn to flames so I just went to workout.

But it is official! I passed the background check, reserved an airbnb room near the campus and bought my plane ticket. Wowza.

Keeps getting better

disneyland

Day 2 in Los Angeles was even better than the first. I went to four different entertainment companies, from studios to video games to theme parks. The first stop was amazing – they showed us secret places and I saw people but that’s all I can say. I’m so much more excited about the entertainment industry now and I didn’t even think that was possible. I’m also finding ways that my skillz can best be put to use. I can tap into my previous experience in content distribution to work on the digital distribution side of a company. I’m also really interested in the data analytics side of things, and because those are turning into my favorite classes at MIT too, I might actually be prepared to do them.

Day 3 was a bit more relaxed which meant that we had time for me to try In N Out burgers for the first time (I wasn’t impressed with anything but the price). I also got to go to a donut place, DK’s donuts, and I got a wo-nut, which was my first ever waffle-donut and it was amazing. It was red velvet with white cream and then oreo crumbs. I also got a couple other because let’s be honest donuts are my life.

The first company we went to was really neat and I got to meet the man who created the candy for Katy Perry (yes, my mind was blown). In the evening we went to Universal Studios and I nearly crapped myself from excitement on both the back lot tour and the Simpsons Ride. It was just all so awesome and I’m like “could this seriously be my job?”

LA also continues to bless me with amazing weather so all in all I’m pretty pumped.

Women portrayed in media

This article/video perfectly articulates the way the I feel about women in media. I truly believe that changing the way entertainment and media portray women will do wonders for empowering women and girls to be confident, proud, and encouraged. Take a look and watch the video – how can we continue to push this trend forward?

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27475423

Winning the lottery

On a long car ride last weekend, Joe and I began discussing what we’d do if we won the lottery. We both agree that we’d need to continue with the passions we have – neither of us are the type that would be happy lying on a beach for the rest of our lives. Turns out, Joe would keep his current job, which makes me totally happy for him. I had always said I would as well, but realized this last time, I might not. I definitely like the work I’m doing right now, but realize the contributions I could make without having to worry about an income. I love every single thing I am doing with Girls in Tech right now and look…

I began this post on August 14th at about 7:16am. I don’t entirely remember what I was doing back then, or why I didn’t finish it, but I remember it was right after BlogHer. I was just about to dive into the most amazing entertainment + technology idea ever, and I know this for two reasons.

  1. Over the summer I was contacted by a recruiter from EA within video games. I entertained the idea (ha! get it?) and went through the interview process. All my interviews had to be phone based though because of timing and a big sales meeting or something so everyone was out of town. I remember doing one of them from the hotel room in Chicago. You know how sometimes you talk yourself into loving something you didn’t know you did before? It was this experience that propelled my love for the entertainment industry and the connections it has with technology. I ended up not getting/taking the job, but enjoyed the experience nonetheless and am happy with the outcome.
  2. At BlogHer, I met a man. I don’t remember his name, clearly it was a close relationship we formed. I think he liked my dress… and I liked that he had a purple triangle coming out of his well-fitting-suit pocket. It was a dark grey, not black, and I think that goes so well with purple. So we went for a drink. It turned out that he worked for HBO. So, of course, cliché!, I pitched him my TV show idea. The premise was making technology cool by writing a sitcom about how some girl uses tech and is cool too. It would be like what Harry Potter did for wizardry (hah! I get this reference now) or something. After talking to him though, and having my idea completely shot down (well, he acted interested, but he was hitting on me and I can tell the difference), it started to evolve a little more. And that’s where I really got excited.

From there, the idea transformed into me wanting to create some reality show or even just a documentary on how important technology is to the entertainment industry. The ideas I tossed around were like, following Taylor Swift on tour (or maybe Lady Gaga!) or being on the movie set for Jupiter Ascending (because I really was there and was in awe of the technology required to manipulate the content into sci-fi.) highlighting all the technology required to pull those things together. I’ve always felt that breaking down the stereotype of tech being ‘men coding in a basement drinking mountain dew’ is a step towards closing the gender gap. Plus, being the fangirl I am, I knew it would have gotten Katie excited about tech back in the day. [Katie, for those of you who don’t know, is me in a time long ago.] I tweeted my excitement…

and

Eventually the idea became a webcast in which I’d start out by interviewing local technology women, and then expand into local entertainment-type things, maybe the news station or something like that, and grow from there. It was the tiered approach. The first video is being filmed next week actually, highlighting a woman working in video games! And that’s all well and good, right?

Well, then I was on my way to a Macalester board meeting (go Mac!) when I heard John Rausch being interviewed on the radio. This name isn’t necessarily supposed to mean anything to you unless you are a crazy cat in the music industry… but he was one of the sound engineers on Taylor Swift’s RED album and is from Minnesota. So… what if I just skipped all those tiers and cold emailed him to see what type of awe-inspiring content we could make to engage girls in technology??

So, that’s what I did. I’ll let you guys know how it goes.

Is anyone interested in my dating escapades?

I did months of online dating last year, 30+ dates I would say. I have funny stories, sad stories, and maybe some good advice. Is anyone interested in a short little blog series on my experiences? Is it rude to publicly discuss dates? I wouldn’t use names or anything… but either way I’d love to hear folks’ perspectives on this :)