Empowering Conversations Around Career Defining Moments, Success From The 2015 NYWICI Student Conference

NYWICI room shot


Nov. 25 2015, Published 10:15 a.m. ET

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The New York Women In Communications Student Career Conference featured over 40 industry professionals who spoke about their experiences across industries including — fashion, beauty, advertising, marketing, social media, and public relations.

The conference was outstanding and I was impressed by the industry-savvy women who spoke candidly about their career defining moments, their journeys to success and expressed the importance of staying true to you.

Keynote: Amy Odell, Editor,

Amy Odell NYWICI

Amy Odell (@amyodell) was the morning keynote speaker and she currently serves as Editor of Odell shared her journey from intern to freelancer to becoming the first blogger at New York Magazine’s The Cut to editor at She touched on the importance of understanding journalism isn’t dying, it’s simply shifting to a more digital-focused era. 

Helpful career pointers/tips:

  • Beg for work, do not give up — in the face of rejection, try harder and overcome feelings of failure.
  • Be a fact-checker 24/7, you should never wait for work to be assigned to you.
  • Take the job you don’t want — this may lead to further opportunities at the publication your write or intern for.
  • Never turn your nose up at a company you may not want to work for.
  • Think strategically about where you’ll learn the most, find a job where you’ll learn the most.
  • Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself.
  • You don’t deserve to be miserable at work, be conscientious about your work environment decisions.
  • The start-up/tech industry is influencing journalism, hierarchies at magazines are shifting.

Interview tips:

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  • Never walk in with plans to lie.
  • If you’re interviewing for a writing job — walk in with ideas on paper printed out for pitches you’d write as if this was your first day on the job.
  • Be really, really well read, read all the time. Be overly informed.
  • Never walk in without knowing a lot about the publication or organization you’re interviewing for.

Public Relations, Advertising & Marketing Breakout Session 1

Moderator: Melissa Finney (@DamesandBroads), Advertising Partnerships, Flipboard Inc.

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PR/Advertising/Marketing NYWICI

Kym Lewis, Partner Manager, Pinterest 

Marisa K. Redwood (@marisaking), Principal, Buzz Brand Marketing

Lauren Marie Kehe, Director of Ad Sales Marketing, Pivot TV

Jessica Kleiman (@jessicacleiman), Communications/Branding Executive

Brushing shoulders with executives who in their own right are also creatives was very inspiring. These ladies shared their first jobs, career lessons they learned, the best professional advice they ever received and also what they would have done differently if they got another chance. Fiscal management, women in the workplace and salaries were also touched on.

Helpful career tips/notable moments:

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  • “If you don’t have the courage to ask you won’t get it… Always put your best foot forward.” -Marisa K. Redwood
  • “Say the right thing or the hard things, something you have right out of school is a fresh perspective.” – Kym Lewis
  • “If you don’t ask you’ll never know… You [also] can’t have a sense of entitlement at any level in your career.” – Jessica Kleiman
  • “Be present, be there. Being nice is always [right].” – Lauren Kehe
  • “Be true to yourself… you have to be you. Be authentic.” – Jessica Kleiman
  • “Where ever you want to be, just go. Relocate and work your way from the bottom. I am sheerly passionate about the industry I’m in… but I’m lucky I’m at a company I’m passionate about.” -Lauren Kehe

Salary tips/women in the workplace:

  • “Always ask for more, they already expect you to ask.” -Kym Lewis
  • “Men ask [for more, women need to be willing to ask for more, I started at $22,000 at my first job and my mother told me to ask for $25,000. I got $25,000].” -Jessica Kleiman
  • “My first salary was $35,000… They came to me [offering] $32,000, I asked for $35,000 and I got it.” – Marisa K. Redwood
  • “It’s important to find women mentors, be confident in your abilities.” -Jessica Kleiman
  • “I think about being a brown girl every day.” -Mellissa Finney
  • “I try to look at things like there is no glass ceiling. A lot of things are a mindset. If you focus on it, it’s a hindrance.” -Marisa K. Redwood
  • “Find the right kind of boss. When you’re interviewing you should be interviewing your boss too.” -Lauren Kehe
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Fashion & Beauty Breakout Session 2

Moderator: Stefanie Cedro Mohr, Assistant Vice President, Integrated Marketing Communications, PR & Social Media, L’Oréal Paris at L’Oréal

Fashion and Beauty Panel NYWICI
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Lauren Larkin (@laurenmlarkin), Vice President, Beauty, Alison Brod Public Relations

Vanessa Santos (@lavidaglamour), Head of Partnerships, Observer Media

Geneva S. Thomas (@GenevaSThomas), Consulting Marketing Manager at InStyle and Founder and Editor of

Shannon Duffy, Product Development Coordinator, Kohl’s

The fashion and beauty industry are not easy industries to hop into, yet these ladies shared their background, spoke about entry-level roles and shared what social media branding is about. Their emphasis on engaging with your peers on social platforms was great to hear. The plethora of tips was extremely helpful and moving to hear.

Entry-level role tips/how to stand out as a candidate:

  • “Relationships are everything [be sure to] build meaningful connections with people. Be metrics driven on your resume.” -Geneva S. Thomas
  • “Think about your niche. [Don’t] be afraid to put yourself out there, start carving out your path.” -Vanessa Santos
  • “Experience and internships matter. Finding an internship you love and keeping the connection matters.” -Shannon Duffy

Social media branding tips:

  • LinkedIn is critical. Your priorities show through LinkedIn, recruiters are active on there.” -Geneva S. Thomas
  • [Social media is] a great avenue for you to show your personality. I [always] want to make sure I understand platforms to [utilize them in the workplace].” -Lauren Larkin
  • “You are a brand. Millennials are aware of the pulse. LinkedIn allows you to expand your reach.” -Vanessa Santos
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Elevator pitch tips and owning it:

  • “Every day as a woman in corporate, know what your points are [and] what you’re speaking about. Do your research.” -Vanessa Santos
  • “[I’m always] making sure I’m demonstrating my value. ‘Here’s how the asset I’m creating can benefit [XYZ].” -Lauren Larkin
  • “Practice, have your elevator pitch ready at all times, you get them ready to find value in what you’re saying.” -Geneva S. Thomas

Lunch Keynote: Paula Rizzo, Emmy Award Winning Senior Health Producer at Fox News Channel and Author, Listful Thinking

Paula Rizzo NYWICI

Paula Rizzo (@ListProducer ) is an award-winning health news producer who is vibrant, funny and had much to say about her career goals, what she faced as a woman in the media biz and more. She shared her humble journey from a local news station to the media conglomerate Fox News. She remembers visiting a friends dad’s office and seeing Emmy’s and wondering if one day she would be honored to received such a prestigious award. Eventually she did after working extremely hard in the media industry. Rizzo shared her obsession with lists that led to writing the highly successful book Listful Thinking.

Helpful career tips: 

  • Shut up and allow interviewers to talk.
  • Craft your writing, the best producers are great writers.
  • Good content is about great writing.
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Entrepreneurship 101 Breakout Session 3

Moderator: Liz Kressel (@lizkressel), Entrepreneur/Digital Strategist, Lizard Media

Entrepreneurship101 NYWICI
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Emily Blumenthal (@HandbagDesigner), Founder, Handbag Designer 101, the Independent Handbag Designer Awards & the HBDNetwork

Tiffany Pham (@tifftpham), Founder & CEO,

Janna Meyrowitz (@StyleHousePR), Co-Founder, StyleHouse PR

Lori Cheek (@Cheekd), Founder/CEO, Cheekd

Jillian Ressler (@jillress), Co-Founder, Spruce and Co.

Women are breaking barriers in the tech industry and becoming more comfortable stepping out and creating their own businesses so it’s always empowering to hear female founders speak realistically about their experiences. The diverse panel expressed the trials of co-founding or not having any partners or a team until funding happened and this created an atmosphere of sheer inspiration for those listening.

Skillsets you need to be an entrepreneur: 

  • “Resilient, determined, believe in yourself, ignore the naysayers.” -Lori Check
  • “Good attitude and be humble at what you do, have no ego, every minute of my day has to be accounted for. You need to be throwing darts at different boards.” -Emily Blumenthal
  • “In service I am the product, I was ver particular with clients [since I was] building my own brand.” – Janna Meyrowitz

Benefits of having a partner/co-founder:

  • “Having a co-founder keeps me sane, I think we collaborate well together. A lot of the challenges are internal, not external. Working towards same vision and [we] work to calibrate that.” -Jillian Ressler

Networking tips: 

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  • “Make positive connections with anyone, you have to be excited about meeting new people all the time. Put yourself in social situations that make you uncomfortable.” -Janna Meyrowitz
  • “You’re your own brand 24/7, you should [not just] exist on paper.” -Emily Blumenthal
  • “Reach out to gate-keepers. [They’ll help] accelerate your path updwards by contacting those at the top.” -Tiffany Pham

Best professional advice they’ve received: 

  • “Do-ers get their toes stepped on, embrace your mistakes.” -Lori Check
  • “You’d never open open up a clothing store if you didn’t know how to shop. Just because you sell one thing doesn’t mean you have a business, be realistic about product growth.” -Emily Blumenthal
  • “Get opinions but remember it comes with a bias.” -Jillian Ressler
  • “Failing fast and failing forward [was my motto], when it’s launched [I made] it perfect afterwards.” -Tiffany Pham

Crowdfunding pointers/trademarking:

  • “We reach out to everyone, pay it forward.” -Jillian Ressler
  • “There’s asking for help and there’s asking for free advice. Be very specific about your gaols and what you’re asking for.” -Emily Bluementhal
  • “Do your research.” Janna Meyrowitz
  • “Legal matters a lot. Hash out a founder agreement, with an equity breakdown.” -Jillian Ressler
  • “[It’s] 90% execution, 10% product.” -Liz Kressel

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