To continue my #WerqueLikeABoss series, I’m highlighting millennials that slay their careers, while also inspiring and giving back to their communities. These millennial women are nothing short of amazing, simply because they aren’t afraid to use their passions to help them live their best lives. Throughout this series, you’ll learn about a diverse group of women who took the initiative to jumpstart their careers.
Meet Michelle Banks: Change agent & Staffing Services Associate at Google
Share your career journey. How did you land at Google?
A few months after I graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) I came to Google as a “New Grad” in August 2014. I’ve always been ambitious and I remember during my freshman year at Howard University, that someone told me “freshmen aren’t offered internships.” I took that as a personal challenge. I was so determined and ended up accepting an internship offer from Travelers Insurance as a Claim Leadership Development intern, completing not one but TWO summer internships. After transferring to UTSA, I changed my major to Human Resources and completed two summer internships at USAA’s headquarters. I also worked part time during the school year as a HR Generalist and during my senior year, I completed a final internship at Wyndham Vacation Ownership as a Recruiting intern. I knew I didn’t want to stay in San Antonio after graduation. So I took a leap of faith, said a prayer, and applied online for a job at Google. Almost 3 years later, I’m still here as a Staffing Services Associate in People Operations (HR). Google is a unique organization that allows its employees to really own their careers. I had a chance to be a Project Manager on our Marketing Staffing team and a Coordinator on our Tech Intern Programs team. In October 2016, I traveled to Ghana to be a consultant for 3 weeks at NGO’s in Accra.
2. Give your best career advice for the millennial girl who is trying to navigate within corporate.
Navigating “Corporate America” is a beast all on it’s own. So be proactive and set yourself up for success. Stay ready so you never have to get ready.
Navigating the Waters - Top 10:
1. Be kind to yourself: Understand where you are and be comfortable knowing there’s going to be some sort of learning curve or “ramp up” period.
2. Protect your time: Effectively manage your calendar to ensure you’re not maxing out your capacity.
3. Self-promote: Know your worth and remember to be your best advocate, supporter, and sponsor.
4. Don’t reinvent the wheel: Communicate with your manager and teammates to find out what’s been done in the past so you don’t create work for yourself.
5. Self-care: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take time regularly to recharge. Whether it’s morning meditation, a taking a mental health day, or a having cup of tea. Whatever it is that lets you entirely detach - DO IT!
6. Set clear expectations, goals, and objectives with your manager. Be sure to meet with them regularly.
7. Master your core role before taking on any projects or additional responsibilities.
8. Be open. Change is inevitable. Get comfortable with flexing and taking risks. Challenge yourself by trying something new.
9. Remind yourself of your capabilities and be confident knowing that you’re SUPPOSED to be there. Do not let imposter syndrome creep in and if it does, talk to a trusted advisor.
10. Find a mentor within your organization and develop your own personal “Board of Directors.” Once you settle in, remember to give back and share your knowledge and lend support to a newbie.
Where do you hope to be professionally in 3 years?
My passions are diversity and inclusion. So in 2020, I plan to have relocated to another Google office - hopefully on the East Coast (NYC or ATL) or even an international location. I’ll be a Diversity Specialist, managing programs that either increases the representation of Black and Brown people in Tech or creates an inclusive space for people who look like me to have opportunities to have a seat at the table, to create change, build the best products, provide the best strategies, market the best campaigns, and make Google the Best Place to Work.
Meet Mariah Smith: Associate Research Producer at Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and Kardashian Truther.
1. Share your career journey. How did you land at Bravo TV and decide to start Keeping Up with The Kontinuity Errors?
I started working in TV when I was 19. My first internship was in production at Sesame Street, where I worked on both the show’s set and their office. Following that, I interned at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. At LNJF I was a research intern and helped our research team create packets for each guest on the show, log what happened in the episodes that we were filming each day, and occasionally helped with other production tasks like audience assisting, running errands and standing in for rehearsals. While at SNL, I worked as a writer's/research intern, and with that I, along with others, assisted the writers and cast with anything throughout the week. That would either be logging old footage, getting coffee, distributing rundowns, or researching elements needed for the show. All of these internships helped land me a job as a production assistant for Best Week Ever on VH1. That was in 2013, and since I’ve had a few jobs intween then and now. A few of those places include Nickelodeon, Cosmopolitan.com, and my current production company, Embassy Row.
When I first started working at Embassy Row, I was an Associate Producer on Bravo’s Fashion Queens. Our team was amazing, which lead to great personal and professional relationships at the Embassy Row. Along with FQ, Embassy Row produces Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. So, when I was looking for a new job in 2015, I reached out to my FQ Executive Producer, and thankfully she thought I’d be a great fit for a role they were trying to fill in the research department. That all worked out, and currently I work as a Research Associate Producer. Most of my job is researching guests that come on our show, handling the fan questions that we ask our guests, pitching games for our show and a variety of other tasks. It’s sort of wild that I’m doing a job I fell in love with as an intern in college!
As for Keeping Up With the Kontinuity Errors, I started that blog on Tumblr in February 2015, and never anticipated it’d be so successful today. My love of the show Keeping Up With the Kardashians and my growing frustrations with the wonky timelines and inconsistencies of the program led me to create the blog. And, I’ve always loved TV recaps, so I knew it would at least be fun for me. It actually started as somewhat of an inside joke between me and my friends (elaborate, I know!), but then it took off. I started with small goals, like wanting to get just 5 new Tumblr followers each week, but by the first 2 weeks, I already had thousands. Now I not only write KUWTKE for New York Magazine’s The Cut, but I also freelance write for Cosmopolitan.com, GQ, Complex, and many other publications.
2. Give your best advice for the millennial girl for pursuing a career that she's passionate about.
I’m still learning as I go, so my only advice would be to stay true to yourself. I’d like to think that my success is based solely on me doing what I love, finding things I’m passionate about and going for them. Inauthenticity is the killer of dreams. Follow that passion and put your own spin on it. I love the Kardashians and hate liars, so KUWTKE was formed. I love television, and am celebrity obsessed, so that’s why I research them for a living. And, always remember that no one sees things the way you do. Your voice is important, powerful, useful and needed. What you have to say, do, or offer up is needed by at least one other person in this world. I doubted pressing “publish” on my first blog post because I thought I wasn’t a writer and wondered about people calling me crazy for caring so much about a television show, but that has been the best decision of my life. I never wanted to be a writer or write about pop culture as a side hustle, but it fell into my lap and I couldn’t be more grateful. That’s another thing - - leave room in your life to explore all of your passions!
3. Where do you see yourself professionally 3 years from now?
3 years ago, I was super fresh out of college, a production assistant, and someone who didn’t know that freelance writing was even a job. Now, I’m an Associate Producer on a dream show, and writing a column I created on a site I LOVE. Basically things I wouldn’t even allow myself to mentally entertain. So, I hope that 3 years from now I’m doing something else I cannot yet conceive, that would be the current dream for me.