What would you do if you got to meet the faces behind your fave magazine? You could say we were stuck between exuding a calm and collected outward appearance and just about ready to burst from the excitement. When we were invited to an event where Victoria’s Secret PINK and Teen Vogue partnered to bring leading ladies from both brands to speak about everything from career to what they do in a day, we could not refuse. Thanks to PINK at the University of Florida, we experienced not one moment where we weren’t in awe of the friendly and honest women sitting in front of us.
Carlson Zeller, PINK Senior Merchant, and Caroline Solt of PINK Campus and Event Marketing at Victoria’s Secret took the stage to share their perspective from working with such an established brand like Victoria’s Secret. On the Teen Vogue side, Carrie Marks, Associate Director of Social Media and Audience Development, Alyssa Levy, Director of Experiences, and Jessica Andrews, Fashion Features Editor, teamed up to bring authentic advice and casual conversation to the table. We left the event bursting with so much excitement that we decided to compile six key takeaways.
Drown out the voice filling your head with self-doubt
Among the several pieces of advice I rushed to scribble into my notebook, there is one nugget that I resonated with the most: dealing with self-doubt. As I sat listening to the panelists share sage words and spread a few chuckles through the intimate crowd with each new question, I couldn’t help but continue to think about how Carrie Marks said to “ignore that voice in your head that’s telling you that you’re not quite good enough.” I think her advice struck me as strongly as it did because self-doubt is definitely one my greatest insecurities, and I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I’ll admit I am too hard on myself sometimes — never allowing myself to bask in fleeting moments of pride, especially when it comes to things I’ve accomplished and the passions I have pursued. I hold myself back from acknowledging my successes and instead choose to nitpick every not-so-perfect choice I’ve made, which is ridiculous because no one is perfect. But self-doubt amplifies every insecurity and disappointment until it is the only thing consuming your thoughts.
I say we all take Carrie’s advice and drown out that negative voice and purge the self-doubt stealing us of feeling proud and confident. It’s not going to be easy, but it is not impossible. Thinking that getting rid of self-doubt is impossible is another way it is riddling our bodies with negative notions. Let’s take back control of our own happiness and pride — we are amazing individuals with endless potential, and we don’t have time to dwell on self-doubt.
– Viviana Moreno
Choosing to have a forward-facing perspective
The idea of embodying a forward-facing outlook was a hot topic during the panel discussion. I have to say I have always been someone who focuses too far into the future and never just stands still for one moment. This means I’ve lost a large chunk of enjoying being in the present. Because of this, I am currently on the road to understanding how to balance looking ahead and having my feet planted firmly in the present moment. Although this is not a road devoid of bumps and curves, the panel discussion gifted me a fresh perspective on finding that balance. So although you should be active in the current happenings of your life, you should also face towards the future. This sentiment is especially relevant to us because as college students we are trying to enjoy these years before adulthood really takes a hold of us while planning our next moves after we graduate. And if you’re in planning to be a part of the media industry like many of us at Her Campus UFL, then it is even more important to have a sense of the future in an industry that transforms in the snap of a finger.
– Viviana Moreno
Create opportunities instead of waiting for them
Finding a place to fit in while you’re in college can be intimidating. Aside from trying to find your social circle, there’s the added stress of also trying to find your professional circle. Although opportunities for involvement and professional development are seemingly endless in college, it’s possible to be involved but not feel invested in a particular club or cause. If you’re a girl who is struggling to find an organization that piques your interest, or you don’t feel represented on campus, find the courage to get up and create an opportunity for yourself. If you want to write but you aren’t getting published on websites, publish your work on a blog. In the words of Teen Vogue’s Features Fashion editor, Jessica Andrews, “Do not wait for a brand to give you a chance. Make opportunities for yourself.” I connected with Andrews’ advice because I felt a need for there to be an organization dedicated to Hispanic journalists within the College of Journalism and Communications. This is why I recently started UF’s very own chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I filled a need with a solution, and in doing so, I ended up finding a group of people who also had the same void as I did and turned a challenge into an opportunity that fosters community.
– Cayela Cuevas
Network upward and across
Andrews also dropped another pearl of wisdom on the audience by suggesting that college women not only network upward with professionals, but also across with peers and colleagues. Hearing this piece of advice was so interesting to me because a lot of the jobs in the media world are based on having the right connections in addition to exceeding the job description. Her advice not only changed my perspective of networking but also made me feel confident in my abilities as a professional and the abilities of the young women in the audience with me.
Surround yourself with the people who inspire and motivate you, and be that girl for someone else, too. I know how relieved I am when I apply for a job or internship and notice that a UF alumna works at that job because I feel confident that they will remember what it was like for them to break into the media industry and help a fellow girl boss out. Don’t discount the value of being kind to people and making time to value relationships with girls who can help you out in the future.
– Cayela Cuevas
Say yes to everything and challenge yourself to be uncomfortable
In college, busy is an understatement. For some of us, it can be the busiest time of our lives. We are doing internships, working and taking on additional extra curricular activities on top of our school work. This is something that I personally have struggled with, because I am president of UF’s Florida Magazine Student Association, have two internships and write for the UFL chapter of a little known publication called Her Campus (you may have heard of it). I have a hard time saying no to things, hence the two internships instead of one. It wasn’t until I heard advice from Caroline Solt of PINK that I changed my perspective to accept this.
In college, Solt was studying to be an english teacher until the PINK Campus Rep opportunity fell onto her lap. “I totally should have said no to it because I had no time, but I said yes and fell in love with it,” Solt said. She said that if she wasn’t open-minded, she wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity and she wouldn’t be where she is today.
It’s important to not take this advice too literally, because at the end of the day there are always going to be situations that you should say no to because of factors like safety and knowing your worth. But it’s also important to look at the flip side of it, and instead of saying no to opportunities because they may not necessarily be your goals at the time, by challenging yourself to be uncomfortable you can create new experiences for yourself like Solt did by turning an on-campus rep. position into a full time corporate job in marketing. No matter what industry you one day find yourself in, things will always be changing, so it’s necessary to let yourself be open-minded to new opportunities, because you never know where they could lead.
– Carolina Watlington
Make the most out of the opportunities you have, and think outside the box
Carlson Zeller from PINK knew from age 16 that she wanted a career in merchandising. But growing up in a small town in Indiana, she found it difficult to get inspired and find relevant opportunities for herself. She learned quickly that she had to make the most of her resources,and create opportunities from there. In that time, she worked as a waitress where she learned efficiency and how to talk to people. Though it may seem silly to need to learn how to talk to people, going outside of your comfort zone to be able to talk to strangers is an essential skill in any field, especially merchandising. She also worked at multiple retail stores before graduating college, and at each store she learned what each brand focuses on. It was these experiences that led to getting an internship for Victoria’s Secret and she has been with the company ever since. Zeller stressed the importance of taking what you have and molding it to your own advantage to help you accomplish your goals.
As an aspiring media maven, this could not ring truer than in Gainesville, Florida. Aside from a few campus organizations, it’s easy to feel isolated from bigger fashion-related opportunities or experiences that I feel could fuel my career all the way to a Hearst or Condé Nast publication. With hundreds of students all striving toward the same goal, it can be discouraging at times. But at the end of the day, these companies are looking for someone who can bring unique experiences to the table. There is only one you. Only you can deliver. We have to make the most of what is in front of us, and use these opportunities to our advantage.
– Carolina Watlington
With an audience full of boss babes and a panel of five inspiring women, it was hard to leave without feeling motivated and awestruck. The event was an invaluable learning experience, and we can’t wait to put these tips into practice!