When it finally came time to upload my first ever YouTube video, I was scared of not knowing who or where in the world it would end up. My finger hovered over my mouse until it cramped up. There was no willpower in Will (aka me) to click and let the video go public. I never thought that I’d witness myself write these words…but hey, could you check out my YouTube channel?
The decision to pick up my phone and start recording was haphazard. The inspiration to start a YouTube channel felt rushed. The anxieties in my mind built an obstacle ahead of me that I didn’t overcome. Rather I bulldozed through all of my doubts. The anxiety I'm talking about came from the criticism, mediocrity, and embarrassment that didn't even exist yet. Maybe I was fueled by confidence, or nativity. It could have also been a cocktail of all of these emotions creating a volatile mix that just sparked my creativity. No matter the catalyst, I felt driven in crafting a video to put out into the world.
The video I crafted is titled, “HOW I WAS INVITED TO THE OSCARS TWICE - Answering Instagram Q&A About the Industry.” It’s a project that came into existence over several days. However, while the Instagram polls and writing took days, I only gave myself a weekend for the video. I gave myself only two days to shoot, edit, and upload. For those experienced in visual content creation, I’m sure they’d call me crazy for trying to do so much at once.
This same weekend, I was writing and rewriting my script. It was important that every time I did a new take my answers went deeper. And all this was not even taking into account the care it took in designing a banner or content writing. Why was I putting myself under all this pressure you might ask? Here’s my answer; I felt like if I didn’t start now, then I never would.
“Aren’t you 5 years too late?” “Who do you think you are? A wannabe influencer?” or “What do you know about making videos?” These are all the questions that crawled around my mind before I even hit the record. There’s a quote I live by, that my college mentor granted me, she said, “We are always in our process of becoming.” This quote was the remedy to the anxieties that started to cloud my mind.
This first video would not, and could not, dictate my skills or the opportunities ahead of me. I am at the foot of a new journey. Ahead of me is a chance to grow in my faculties as a storyteller. My passion in life is to understand and practice language and its impact on people. I’ve always loved visual mediums, that’s why I work in entertainment. Even though I think I’m late to the content creator party, who's to say I can’t throw myself one?
When those questions came up I knew how to answer them. “No I’m not too late, I’m finally ready.” Just like in my college days when it came time to rally, I could never show up for pre-party pictures until I felt ready. “I know who I am. I’m a storyteller. I’m a young professional. I’m a Latinx in Hollywood. And I’m an amateur fitness enthusiast.” Knowing oneself is knowing one’s brand. I’m glad that I studied the arts of rhetoric, media, and composition. Understanding my identity and being able to convey that with confidence is powerful.
My last answer to those anxieties is, “I don’t know much about making videos. But I know how to learn.” Because I wanted to make a video with purpose I made sure I researched the form first. I noted some of my favorite YouTubers and I studied their style, the visual grammar, and their delivery. I treated making a video with the same care and respect as when I write a pitch to a reporter. I have to feel confident in my own knowledge of the material to convince someone else of its merit. Through watching videos, and asking friends what topics I should speak on, I felt beyond proud when it came to finally click on, “Public.”
I wanted to write a blog that acted as my director’s statement. Sharing my concerns and the labour it took to make the final product is part of my process. In my life, I’ve been critiqued as someone who only shares my success. I take this comment and I have acknowledged it. Through writing this piece - and in making the content that I’ve recently made, I want to show people my depth. It’s true it’s easier to tell you about that time I waved hi to Meryl Streep, but that moment exists because of the endless hours it took me to research, network, and showcase my talents in the industry.
Whether you know me already or do not, I thank you so much for engaging with my work. As a writer, the greatest joy I get is when I know that someone was impacted by my words. All I can do is share my stories and hope that the impact of my words inspires someone to start their process of becoming…
Gone are the days of team meetings with outsourced coffee and catered lunches. For both students and professionals, we’re now just another square in the Brady Bunch intro sequence.
Candidly, I don’t like video conferences. I think that many of these calls are rich with awkward pauses and constant cacophony. These same issues aren’t unique to video calls, but there’s something about Zoom that just makes conferencing more chaotic.
After spending a few weeks playing around with Zoom with both my team and different clients, I compiled a list of tips and tricks that make for a smoother user experience. Having worked at my college’s IT center for 3 years, trust me when I say it’s not Zoom, it’s you!
1. Don’t Just Double Check, Triple Check Your Zoom Link!
Scheduling truly is one of most tedious things to do with a group. Before switching to Zoom calls, I still endured emails bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball. One of my pet peeves is being one of thirty people in a scheduling email chain. Your inbox pops off as two people duke it out to claim an ideal meeting time. Oh if only I could take myself out of the chain sometimes until it was all over… As annoying as coordination is in any environment, I can’t stress enough to pay attention to the details. Conference call codes and links change like the dates/times being ricocheted over email. I’m embarrassed to admit, but I must, that there’s been a handful of times when I send the wrong link to my team and we’re not in the right Zoom call. That’s why I cannot stress enough that even if there’s been a dozen emails, stay diligent and triple check that link!
2. If You’re Taking Notes Good for You, But Remember to Hit Mute
This mistake happens all the time, especially to my fellow admins; forgetting to hit mute while typing. You’re trying to stay focused during the Zoom call, thus you’re taking notes as you would in any lecture/meeting. And it seems convenient to take notes on your computer during a Zoom call. However, you forget that your Macbook keys sound like a shaken box of Tic Tacs. In every call I’ve joined, there’s always an awkward moment where someone is called out. The moderator politely asks for the individual to mute themselves because they’re typing loudly. You can get a lot of things wrong, we’re only human, but don’t be that one person who gets called out for doing your civic duty of staying busy.
3. Please Please PLEASE Have a Meeting Agenda (or Ask for one)
You can come off as real bold asking for an agenda, but someone’s gotta do it! I admit I sometimes get gutsy and I poke the bear. That bear being the executive leading the meeting. It can be intimidating to ask for a Zoom call agenda. Yet, it’s better to come in with a script than to join a meeting blindly. If you’re a student, then your educator might have a lesson plan. And if you’re a professional there may already be a meeting plan. Whenever I’m in a Zoom meeting I need to know for how long and what’s “the point.” What is the reason that I need to get out of sweats? (Why do I do this? Keep reading!) What are we trying to accomplish? Having a meeting agenda makes the Zoom call all the more focused, and can help you wrangle in people caught up playing with the backgrounds...I literally can’t even get into how annoying that is...like literally I CAN NOT…
4. Trade in the Groutfit for Something Cute, Comfortable, and Classy
In my first Zoom calls, I remember being taken aback seeing my colleagues adorning collegiate hoodies, beanies, and baseball caps. There are people that I frankly couldn’t recognize without their signature styled hair or garments. To a degree it’s been comforting seeing the human side to people on Zoom. Through noticing their styling outside of the office I get a better sense of the person behind the email. As comforting as a Zoom in your sweats, I think that if you’re a professional you can do better. It sucks to admit, but appearances still matter in this world. Considering fashion as a tool of expression, I think that you can present yourself as both professional while remaining comfortable. Of course, if you have to get in a suit do it, own it, sell it!
I’ve opted to trade in my college crewneck for a nice turtleneck paired with some good Lulu bottoms because why not!? I may not opt-in for a full blowout, however I’ll put enough effort to look groomed. That’s my caveat, find a nice top, brush your hair, and smile because you’re on camera!
5. If You MUST Use a Digital Background Please Make It Make Sense
I knew in writing this list I could not, and would not, avoid the topic of Zoom backgrounds. I am unapologetic about being a pop culture fanatic. Despite knowing trending topics like the back of my hand, I recognize that there is a time and a place to show off my fandom. A Zoom meeting is not one of those times. In a recent Zoom meeting I was shocked, quite literally shocked, that someone had a Joe Exotic background on for the entire meeting. It wasn’t an elephant in the digital room because several people all had to comment on the background. Just like my last points about presenting oneself, being organized, and muting the mic, I think that there’s an unspoken etiquette about not being outright distracting. The occasional mic issues I get, having a baby crying the background mmm okay sure, but a TIGER KING background? Sir, you knew what you were doing. Now I love TIGER KING and I’m not sorry about it, but save that for stanTwitter or another call.
6. Be Forward If You Predict a Distraction
Going back to the mention of crying babies or someone slurping on a straw, I think it’s worth giving a heads up if you know you may have distractions. If someone prompted you to jump on a call during your lunch I think you can say, “Hey there, sorry I was just in the middle of lunch.” Or if you’re working at home and things are a bit loud I think it’s okay to say, “Sorry the kids are making noise,” or whomever is making noise. Letting the other person know what to expect is always just a good sign of respect.
7. Don’t Forget the Camera is ALWAYS OnI’m glad to report that I’ve never had this issue! Sadly, I’ve seen a few meetings having awkward moments because someone was either caught texting or leaving the meeting screen. Don’t think that just because you open another window or minimize Zoom that you’re no longer live. That green light atop your screen is your reminder and alert that you’re still on screen. I recently had a minor hiccup happen where I had to leave the meeting, and I handled it lowkey. My computer was running low and battery, and while I went to grab my charger I turned my video off. When I settled back in I resumed video and it was less distracting than if my colleagues had seen me stand up and walk away.
8. Take the Time to Check Your Connection
Now of all the tips I’ve presented this is one where you can let tech take the blame. Having reliable WiFi is truly a luxury that those of us working from home take for granted. I could not imagine the anxiety I’d have if I knew that I could drop out of Zoom meeting any moment. It behooves you test out the WiFi wherever you are to find out where and what devices it works best on. If you know that your internet connection isn’t the most reliable, I think it’s fair to share that and ask for a dial into the Zoom. There’s always a work around to IT issues you just can’t be afraid to ask!
9. Don’t Ask me to join a Zoom Happy Hour…Especially Work Related
This recommendation has less to do with work, but I think has everything to do with etiquette all the same. It’s already quite jarring working from home during this current situation. I sometimes feel like my different all coalesce in what should be my safe haven; home. Again, I’m not at all complaining about work - I truly am grateful to remain employed. I just can’t muster the energy to spend more time on another Zoom call trying to be engaged or preppy when really I just want a break from social interactions. Because yes, emails and calls all count as interaction even when you’re not seeing people. I get trying to build morale, but how about, “Have a great day!” over text?
The week leading up to Christmas is a crazy time full of races. These races include, but are not limited to dashing through department stores for deals; sprinting to studios and gyms for their promotions; and jotting down goals for -now- the new decade. I realized that when I went to write down my goals one thought did NOT cross my mind. It was halfway through my chicnscratch-style-cursive when I hadn’t yet thought 2019 sucked!
Like the saying goes, You are your own worst critic and I believe this carries into how we plan for the new year. Because for most people the first thing to cross their mind is Wow this last year sucked! I can say with confidence that yes 2019 did suck. But it also had some unforgettable moments. For me, this year was when I finally got to reap basically everything I sewed this past decade. Ah - as I walk down memory lane, ofc in my Gucci Aces, I think about the moments that defined it… You might not be surprised by some of the top moments that made it for me, but again my life is an open book. So sit back, scroll on, and I hope you have some laughs and awws!
Getting My BA, Despite All my BS
While there was never any doubt I’d graduate from college, there were many times when I doubted my talents in what I was studying. I majored in Writing & Rhetoric, a degree that for the most part is pretty made up for liberal arts in the undergrad. I’d say it was more like studying communications then English. But it still baffles me how I could jump from drawing diagrams of sentences, to writing about Beyonce and making videos about Ariana Grande. I can honestly say I loved my academic journey as it wrapped up in 2019. My last year was all about studying things that I wanted to, and challenging myself to prove that it mattered. Journalism and politics weren’t my focus in writing. However, I am proud to have earned distinction in my major, I was one of 3 y’all, and prove that pop culture is political.
Securing the Bag After College
Now I truly am writing this in the most humble sense, but I knew I would find my way back into the industry after college. In the last decade, I cannot tell you how hard I worked in breaking into the world of Hollywood. It wasn't just enough to be a fan of the industry, I became a scholar of it. Even when I was too young to intern at a studio or production company I was building my vernacular and skills regarding entertainment. From reading the trades at school, to constantly being on the radar at open houses and emailing recruiters, I made sure that everywhere I went someone left knowing my name. That's why when I finished school the challenge wasn't finding out what to do. My challenge was finding out where I'd want to start my career. Luckily, through the networking I'd done and work I put in I found a job that gave me a chance to do more and do real work with real talent.
Treating Fitness as a Celebration of my Body
When I came back from my semester abroad I was sure that yes it changed my life, and I wanted to work on myself. One of my biggest insecurities has always been my weight. I have been plump for as long as I can remember. And while I am truly lucky to never have faced animosity because of my weight, I was constantly beating myself up. I used to think I wasn't attractive enough to post pictures of myself, make friends, and even land my dream job. Luckily, we live in a world that is less superficial, but still is, then what I imaged in my head. This past year is when I started to focus on my health and wellness seriously. I was eating healthier and starting to be a regular at my school's gym. However, the change didn't come until I stopped having the mindset that every mile I ran was for every cookie I ate. By that I mean that I started to see fitness as a way of understanding and accepting my body. When the miles became goals I had and not a punishment, not only did the weight come off but the rest followed suit. I left my insecurities at the door and stepped into things like spin classes, weight training, heck even Crossfit! So in this past year I'm so proud to be where I'm at, and I am eager to keep it up in 2020 and see how much more I can improve my relationship with my body,
Owning Up to My Own Bills
This is something that came on later in 2019, but bills bills bills they're here to stay. I am blessed and fortunate enough to have parents who have supported my sisters and I as much as they have. I graduated college without any debt, my own car, and that's on top of the funds my parents made sure I had in school. So when I finished school, I made it a point to show my parents that their investment in me could pay off. My phone, my groceries, and gas expenses were now my own. Every trip to Starbucks was now my responsibility. Don't get me wrong, for someone who is truly new to the working thing I had no idea how to budget. But when my parents saw me making a spreadsheet with my bills and managing my money they seemed proud. I am too. I'm still a long ways away from my fortune 500 lifestyle, but I am understanding that ordering a Venti iced mathca latte with two scoops and coconut milk errr day maybe isn't the best thing to do.
Finding a Group, Or Should I Say Posse, and Sticking To It
Back in high school, I was in a cohort of students who would stay together for 4 years. At least, that was the plan. But thanks to the encouragement of the teacher leading us, I moved up to an AP track. Now moving onto to AP English from Honors wasn't major, yet I did act like I was gone all together. I grew apart from this group and notably felt sad when we graduated from high school. It wasn't that I couldn't stay friends with them, I just didn't put in the effort. That's why this highlight means so much. In this last decade, I've belonged to a posse for almost 5 years now. We've known each other since high school, went through college together, and now we're like kinda adults out in the world. These individuals all grew up with me and saw me when I was batsh!t crazy in school. And this group also saw me reach some of my greatest goals in the decade. I'm proud that in my own way, and on my own terms, I remained apart of a posse, crossing the finish line with them in 2019.
Planning a Friend's Vacay
Just like every basic girl whose IG posts about Rome reference the Lizzie McGuire movie, I came back from abroad with a travel bug. During my senior year in college, I'll admit I got some good trips in. Going to Rochester and Syracuse, NY became normal, and I got to visit Boston for the first time. (Then there was that weekend my friends and I piled into my car and partied in Toronto during senior week, ugh miss those clowning days.) As I wrote about in a previous post, planning a trip was something I needed now as a kinda real adult. It was an utter treat to reunite with some of my closest friends in the city that is full of flavour; Boston. Cheers to all of my friends who were always down to clown, and here's to my friends who have always had a couch for me to crash on. May 2020 bring more trips, more fun, and more life abroad!
Write On Willy!
I am a writer through and through. Before my love for social media or PR comes the power of the written word. Studying writing and getting to write about writing this past year was exhilarating. In 2019, I got to geek out with faculty and staff members at school about things like grammar and style. I doubt most people could understand or get excited when they read a spicy lede, but this past year I was all about it! As part of my college experience, I created a final writing portfolio. In those nearly 80 pages I made a case for who was Will and what is his voice. This past year was traced in my work with prose. I became a Writing Fellow and helped students with their process, I grew in my process, and I felt like I made a mark in my writing department. In the new year I want to continue to write for myself. I want to maintain my voice and amplify it. Connecting with people is what I love to do, and all I can hope for in 2020 is that I can do more of it on a scale I could never imagine.
Family Finally Meaning Something
Family is something that means different things to different people. Nonetheless, it's something that every person defines for themselves. However, I never really had a focus on defining family. I loved my immediate family of course. It was the idea of embracing people, trusting them, and growing with them that seemed alien to me. I'm a pretty abrasive person. I like to keep it this way to not get hurt. But 2019 was the year where I finally started to let people in. And not like fake in with banter about the weather and all that, but I really let people in. From my hopes, dreams, fears, and more, people at school and even my own family began to have pieces of my heart. I think people noticed I was more genuine. But it was only because in 2019 I learned from some of the kindest souls I will probably ever meet.
Honoring My Process of Becoming...
Hannah Montana said it first, nobody's perfect, and she was right. I don't really adhere to the idea that life is a river and you go with the flow. I believe more that we are the masters of our own fate. The universe is chaotic and there's things out of our control. One thing that each of us controls is our reaction to what comes our way. This past year I started to both own my decisions and own my mistakes. In the year I plan to continue to be a better person than I was the day before. Whether it's saying, "Please" and "Thank you," running at a .1 faster pace, or just spending 5 more minutes with a friend, I want to do things to feel like I'm growing into a person I want to be.
Summer internships. Two words, but one phrase, that carry a lot of weight for college students of all age, including myself. Being a junior, there is the looming worry about landing that perfect internship that will set me up after graduation. There's all kinds of things you hear from upper-class men friends like, "OMG if you don't intern now you'll never get hired", "You need to intern at a huge company", or "This is your last chance to do something!" No wonder people second guess themselves and review their resume almost a dozen times looking for every comma that's out of place!
By no means am I a career guru. But, I have had plenty of experience working with professionals learning about what helps a candidate stand out in an application pool. The biggest take away is that language is key. Rarely will you get a chance to make your first impression in person, and so it is up to a carefully crafted cover letter, and reviewed resume, to get your foot in the door and your seat to that dream desk.
The resume is the heart of any application. This is the document that communicates to a reader what skills and experience you carry. Everyone will always have different resume advice, but themes I have found in conversations with professionals is that clarity, concession, and coherence is the key to a strong resume. Below are some tips that can help elevate your resume to a strong piece that ignites a conversation.
Using Strong Verbs: "Utilize" the sin of resume words! One of my Writing & Rhetoric Professors stresses the point that verbs drive the English language, and people love to read about people and places. These have become the tenets of my professional writing knowledge. Here is an example from my resume:
Here is a link to a great PDF: http://career.opcd.wfu.edu/files/2011/05/Action-Verbs-for-Resumes.pdf
Finding Relevant Experience: "What am I gonna do? I don't have any previous internship or job experience?!" I hear this one a lot, and I tell all my friends the same, "You may not have had an internship before, but what are you doing right now that is relevant?" As college students, we honestly have a surplus of time. Honestly, we are not ALWAYS that stressed. However, if you are that stressed, than you probably are on the right track. I'll explain why in a bit. Being part of clubs, sports, on-campus jobs, Greek life, etc. there are dozens of leadership positions that exists on our campuses that help cultivate your leadership skills. For example, being President of an animal shelter volunteer club means you clearly manage logistics, build relationships, manage accounts, etc. See what I mean? You often do things for fun that are giving you practical skills that could contribute to whatever company and team you intern with. Sit down and find what you do well. Once you have this down, start thinking about what you do, and don't say you "utilize" anything!
Make it Pop: For most people who have never written a resume, I notice that they end up getting an online template, or they use a basic one from their school's career office. This is fine, but you have to understand that your resume has to stand out in a sea of many. Adding a pop of color, I literally mean like on line, like honestly the most SUBTLE details, can make your resume feel fresh to someone who has gone through hundreds in one day. Using programs like Adobe Photoshop or InDesign offer a great way of working with both your font and aesthetics. A monogram never hurt anybody right?
White Space is Good Space: My last bit of advice is to let your resume breath. Do not feel like you have to get your whole life down on this 1 sheet of paper. It is both impossible and unnecessary, that is why cover letters exist. Your resume should look polished and precise. This means that having smaller margins is a good thing, and having enough space between sections is appreciated. You want your resume to look like a relaxed piece of work, instead of an investigation of who you are.
Cover letters are somewhat confusing, but I will try to explain it best I can. A good cover letter compliments your resume. It should add details and experiences that were not included on your resume, and it should invite the reader to refer back to your resume too. Despite what you may initially think, a cover letter should be brief, thoughtful, and memorable. Here is what I recommend for a cover letter.
Your First Line is Paramount: "Hi my name is...." if your cover letter starts with these 4 words, expect to be pushed aside. This is perhaps the worst way of starting off a cover letter! Why? Because your reader already knows this! A few other mistakes include "I go to X College", "I major in X" or "I am a X year." Once again, these are things your reader knows. Your first line is where you have to be direct and show that you are here to work hard, and work smart. A safe first line is, "I am writing to show my interest in X position." Short, sweet, and to the point.
Formatting: A good cover letter is seamless in style with your resume. This means that the font, margins, and spacing should be similar to each other. The top of your cover letter should often be copied directly from your resume.
End on a High Note: Before you end your resume make sure to thank the reader for their time! This may seem like a minuscule detail, but people really do forget to thank the person who gave them the time of day. I personally think that this shows how you are someone considerate and thoughtful, and not simply there for the company's name. Also make sure to include a line the invites the reader to contact you for work samples, more questions, etc. Including a line like this helps keep the conversation open, instead of done once the paper is put down.
Also, make sure you also have a great mentor who doesn't mind when you text her 3 times in a row asking for the best way of saying "I did this"! Whether it's your friend, professor, coach, etc. get as many eyes on your documents!
Tomorrow starting at 9 AM PCT, I will be taking over the Oscars’ snapchat in honor of the Academy Gold Program’s graduation ceremony. Along with being elected as the student speaker, I will be giving an inside view of the closing today for this revolutionary program. Make sure to add the Academy’s Snapchat: Theacademy to see the full story.
The ceremony will include recognizing interns from across 20 of the most successful companies in entertainment like Disney, HBO, FremantleMedia, Fotokem, Technicolor, Warner Bros., and many more. The Academy will also announce the mentor pairings for the Gold interns. Each of the 68 Gold interns will receive a mentor.
Mentors are Academy members, many Oscar winners, who have volunteered to offer their time and expertise about breaking into Hollywood. Along with having mentors, the soon to be alumni will be invited to continue to attend Academy screenings. For those interested in fellowships and contests, the Academy will waive the fee for former Gold interns to enter contests.
Tomorrow is sure to be an amazing ceremony, and I hope you can follow along. The Academy’s Snapchat is theacademy .