MW of the Month // March 10, 2014

We all know what it feels like to pull all-nighters; to put in countless hours on a project and only receive a pat on the back. Yes, you may be working towards an end goal or a dream job, but sometimes the climb to the top can feel a little thankless. Those we read about in the news or see on TV who have reached the pinnacle of their careers inspire us to keep going. But rarely do those of us still on our way up get any recognition, before we get the corner office. *Cue Drake’s Started from the Bottom.* That’s why we love to highlight Made Women on the rise -- those who have just earned a promotion or secured a new job. They may not be calling all the shots just yet, but we can learn a thing or two from their journey thus far. Our Made Woman of the Month for March is LA’s own Amber Wilson! Amber recently made a career move that turned out to be her best move; landing her dream job at Live Nation Entertainment– the world’s largest live entertainment and e-commerce company. After working for years in the non-profit sector, Amber’s new gig put her closer to her goal of working for a global company, doing corporate communications. Congrats, Amber!

It was a special treat to interview this Made Woman because she is a dear friend of mine. A fellow USC Trojan, Amber and I met freshman year of college. I always loved that Amber knew who she was, what she wanted, and how to get it. Unlike some other Gen Y-ers, she didn’t suffer from feeling overwhelmed by her options or unsure of her next steps. A communication major, she enjoyed writing, music, travel and connecting with others; and hoped to take the things she loved and turn them into a successful career. Her self-assurance made her one to watch on campus. A true leader, she made time between internships and classes for volunteer groups like Blacks In Action -- where she spearheaded the creation of an annual scholarship for incoming freshmen who had given back to their communities.

During school she interned at Atlantic and Hidden Beach Records and wrote for publications like Saturday Night Magazine. She also took time to travel and studied abroad her senior year -- living in Bilbao, Spain for four months and then in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Amber was able to soak up some sunshine and some culture during her time abroad but it wasn’t all about fun. She credits this experience for sparking her desire to work for a company with a global reach. “There are defining moments in our lives that shape who we become, and studying abroad in Spain and Argentina was that moment for me. I learned so much about myself and became exposed to many other different types of lifestyles and culture. To this day I still have friends around the world from when we studied together. It made me a global citizen and showed me how connected we all can be, if we want to be.”

While Amber did know what she wanted, getting from point A (being recent college grad with no experience) to point B (having the career of your dreams) is not always a linear journey. After graduation she worked for the Century City Chamber of Commerce as a membership coordinator where she used her skill set to boost membership and manage communications. She worked there for four and a half years moving up to membership director along the way. Working for a non-profit meant budgets were tight. Amber was forced to get creative when thinking of ways to build membership and host networking events that members would appreciate. She crafted unique experiences for attendees, inviting out masseuses for one event and partnering with the Microsoft store for another – creating a live, interactive gaming experience. At a time when Twitter was just emerging, Amber also oversaw the launch of the Chamber’s social media platforms, and added value to local businesses by sharing news on their events and promotions. Her ideas added a fresh spin to the Chamber’s media and promotions without breaking the bank and the experience taught her how to be resourceful and think on her feet. Though she valued her time with the Chamber -- along with the connections and knowledge she gained along the way -- Amber found herself wanting more. Her world perspective made her daydream about working for a company that made a global impact.

Instead of just dreaming about it, Amber decided to do something to gain more experience and connections around Los Angeles. She started her blog, Wilson’s "Where to" Guide, a source for reviews and write-ups on local businesses and events for young urbanites who love travel and good food. Amber honed her writing skills and built a powerful network while blogging about the city she loved. “LA is just so rich and diverse. It’s a place where you can do so much. Just when you feel like you have a handle on LA, you learn something new...you can never get bored. And if you do -- ‘Hey, check out my blog,’” she says laughingly. People began to connect with her posts and started inviting her to attend their events. She interviewed people like Calvin Richardson, Brian McKnight, DJ Lady Sha -- the first female DJ to spin on live radio in South Africa -- and other trailblazers who were making an impact in their communities. All the while she was perfecting her skills as a writer and editor. “For three years I wrote a blog post every single week, regardless of what was going on with my full-time job, or my social life,” Amber says. Traveling and writing for her blog gave her an outlet for her creative energy.

Amber realized she had learned all she could working in the non-profit sector and wanted to move on -- but the tough job market stunted her progress. “There was a point when I wanted to make a change; I was applying for job after job, I was interviewing and getting to the final stages but nothing was happening.”  Amber didn’t give up on her dream and become complacent. Instead, she got creative and focused on how she could stand out as an applicant. Finally, the stars aligned and preparation met opportunity. Amber was offered the position with Live Nation Entertainment as a corporate communications coordinator working alongside the Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications. The company manages tours for heavy hitters like Beyonce, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus and Linkin Park. They also are the parent company for venues across America like the House of Blues and the ticketing site Ticketmaster.

Amber says that she is always excited to go to work now and see what is happening firsthand in the music industry. Amber drafts press releases for upcoming tours, corporate or charitable partnerships, handles media inquiries, writes and distributes a daily newsletter to 45 countries. She manages social media and stays on top of industry news. She said she was nervous about distributing content to media partners at that level when she started but has since gotten the hang of things: “If you are really a writer you can write about anything.” Her position in the C-Suite alongside all the executives allows her to learn from other leaders and see what it takes to run a Fortune 500 company. Her success with her blog breeds more success at her current position. She knows the value of her connections and understands PR better now that she has a media perspective.  “You always have a vision of how you think something is going to play out professionally… it doesn’t always happen that way. But the key is to be prepared when opportunities do come, so that if it’s the right opportunity you can jump on it,” she says.  

Now that Amber is a bit closer to her dreams she says that it was her perseverance that made the difference. Even though her course wasn’t quick and easy, she has now established herself in the professional world and created a network that she can count on throughout her career. Even though the going gets tough she knows that it is through hard work that dreams are realized, “We are not owed the right to follow and pursue our dreams; it is a blessing and an honor.”

Published in MW University

Business // December 30, 2013

We’ve all had those moments, chatting away at a dinner party, vino in hand ... you ask the smokin’ hot hipster sitting to your left what he does for a living. “Oh, I’m a resort water slide tester,” he casually replies like that’s something you hear everyday. “Excuse me—a what?! Awesome ... I didn’t even know that was a job.”

In today’s world, countless unique careers exist that your parents and college counselor probably never mentioned (or even knew about for that matter.) At a young age, most of us are plopped onto a track heading straight to Normal Jobville. Few kids grow up wanting be to a roller coaster designer, hair stimulation supervisor, menu engineer, ice cream taster, fortune cookie writer, or conlinguist—but they are all very real vocations.

While some high schools and universities are attempting to better prepare future young adults for occupations that are unique or don’t yet exist, most haven’t found effective ways to make students more aware of the wide variety of positions that are available, beyond the basics. So, how does a modern girl discover unconventional career options? It’s not as difficult as one might think.

Start by digging deeper into the world in which you want to work. Food, fashion, photography, medical, writing, hospitality, travel, entertainment, interior design—in each industry, there are a plethora of uncommon jobs. Talk to as many people as you can who work in fashion, if that’s your passion, and Google! The answers are there under simple searches like “unique jobs in fashion.” Another option that yields results—visit the “career opportunities” section on websites of companies you’d like to work for. Often you’ll see job listed that you never knew existed. Here’s an example on CondeNast.com.

Like what you're reading? Join Made Woman Mag's mailing list for updates, special promotions and more. Click here!

There are also occupations that are highly unusual by nature and require unique individuals to fulfill the duties—i.e. sea urchin diver, coconut safety engineer, and snake milker—all examples of work that definitely qualify as unique, but also are not for everyone. Because most women I know (not all, but most), don’t want to learn how to extract venom from snakes and sell it to research labs for use in anti-venom medications, here is a list of unconventional jobs that might actually be of interest:

Fashion - beyond the buyer, model, and fashion designer

Textile Distributor

This person is the middleman/woman between textile manufacturers and designers. The job involves a fair amount of travel, as many fabrics are sourced in other countries. It also provides plenty of freedom from being stuck in a office cube. Textile distributors make an average of $105,000 a year.

Fashion Colorist

It’s the job of a colorist to make sure that fabrics are the right color and of the same dye lot. If you have an amazing eye for color differentiation and know how different light sources effect the way we see color, this might be your next job in fashion. Colorists make an average of $53,000 a year.

Other unusual jobs in fashion: Fashion Forecaster, Set Designer, Personal Shopper

Food - beyond the chef and restaurant

Recipe Developer and Tester

Today you don’t have to have a professional culinary degree to get sell your recipes if you’re an amazing cook, uber detail oriented and can write precise directions. Magazines, brands, and even celebrity food personalities are hiring home-chefs to help fill their plates, pages, websites and cookbooks with delicious recipes. This is typically freelance work and it helps to have a food blog to showcase your talents. Recipes are generally sold for between $275 and $1,000 each. If you’re skilled at food photography, you can charge more.

Gourmet Food Buyer

If you have a passion for food, this could be a dream job. Stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco all employ people to find and purchase the foods they sell and to decide which items to take off the shelves. To qualify for a position like this, it’s best to have a background in hospitality and gourmet food, but Trader Joe’s is known for promoting from within if you have the drive. Other skills needed: excellent palate, ability to negotiate with vendors, product sourcing, inventory management, marketing, and an understanding of trends in consumer taste. Travel is sometimes involved and salaries range from $50,000 to $80,000.

Other unusual jobs in food: Food Stylist, Culinary Trendologist, Test Kitchen Taste Tester, Restaurant Publicist, Chocolate Explorer

Hospitality - beyond the concierge, front desk, and hotel manager

Cruise Director

This is an amazing way to travel the world, entertain people, and avoid sitting behind a desk all day. Cruise directors are responsible for all on-board hospitality, entertainment and social events. They act as the public face of the company and are constantly interacting with the guests. For this job you’ll need a charismatic personality, tons of energy, the ability to be away from home for extended periods of time, and experience working in recreation, entertainment and/or hospitality. Here is an example of a job listing for Cruise Director for Royal Caribbean. Salaries can range from $45,000 to $150,000.

Vibe Manager

Hot hotels today are hiring “Vibe Managers” to create the overall “vibe” of the hotel—from the music in the lobby, spa and elevators to creating unforgettable corporate meeting experiences for hotel clients, e.g. setting up a DJ booth in the conference room so the CEO can be spinning pre and post meeting. Read more about the Vibe Manager for Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego here. Salaries range from $50,000 to $75,000. Here is a list of other unique jobs in the hospitality industry.

No matter where your passions lie, you can be sure there are unique jobs that exist in that field … you just have to do some digging to uncover your first or next unconventional career!

Published in Job Hunting

Business // June 17, 2013 

We’ve all had those moments, chatting away at a dinner party, vino in hand ... you ask the smokin’ hot hipster sitting to your left what he does for a living. “Oh, I’m a resort water slide tester,” he casually replies like that’s something you hear everyday. “Excuse me—a what?! Awesome ... I didn’t even know that was a job.”

In today’s world, countless unique careers exist that your parents and college counselor probably never mentioned (or even knew about for that matter.) At a young age, most of us are plopped onto a track heading straight to Normal Jobville. Few kids grow up wanting be to a roller coaster designer, hair stimulation supervisor, menu engineer, ice cream taster, fortune cookie writer, or conlinguist—but they are all very real vocations.

While some high schools and universities are attempting to better prepare future young adults for occupations that are unique or don’t yet exist, most haven’t found effective ways to make students more aware of the wide variety of positions that are available, beyond the basics. So, how does a modern girl discover unconventional career options? It’s not as difficult as one might think.

Start by digging deeper into the world in which you want to work. Food, fashion, photography, medical, writing, hospitality, travel, entertainment, interior design—in each industry, there are a plethora of uncommon jobs. Talk to as many people as you can who work in fashion, if that’s your passion, and Google! The answers are there under simple searches like “unique jobs in fashion.” Another option that yields results—visit the “career opportunities” section on websites of companies you’d like to work for. Often you’ll see job listed that you never knew existed. Here’s an example on CondeNast.com.

Like what you're reading? Join Made Woman Mag's mailing list for updates, special promotions and more. Click here!

There are also occupations that are highly unusual by nature and require unique individuals to fulfill the duties—i.e. sea urchin diver, coconut safety engineer, and snake milker—all examples of work that definitely qualify as unique, but also are not for everyone. Because most women I know (not all, but most), don’t want to learn how to extract venom from snakes and sell it to research labs for use in anti-venom medications, here is a list of unconventional jobs that might actually be of interest:

Fashion - beyond the buyer, model, and fashion designer

Textile Distributor

This person is the middleman/woman between textile manufacturers and designers. The job involves a fair amount of travel, as many fabrics are sourced in other countries. It also provides plenty of freedom from being stuck in a office cube. Textile distributors make an average of $105,000 a year.

Fashion Colorist

It’s the job of a colorist to make sure that fabrics are the right color and of the same dye lot. If you have an amazing eye for color differentiation and know how different light sources effect the way we see color, this might be your next job in fashion. Colorists make an average of $53,000 a year.

Other unusual jobs in fashion: Fashion Forecaster, Set Designer, Personal Shopper

Food - beyond the chef and restaurant

Recipe Developer and Tester

Today you don’t have to have a professional culinary degree to get sell your recipes if you’re an amazing cook, uber detail oriented and can write precise directions. Magazines, brands, and even celebrity food personalities are hiring home-chefs to help fill their plates, pages, websites and cookbooks with delicious recipes. This is typically freelance work and it helps to have a food blog to showcase your talents. Recipes are generally sold for between $275 and $1,000 each. If you’re skilled at food photography, you can charge more.

Gourmet Food Buyer

If you have a passion for food, this could be a dream job. Stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco all employ people to find and purchase the foods they sell and to decide which items to take off the shelves. To qualify for a position like this, it’s best to have a background in hospitality and gourmet food, but Trader Joe’s is known for promoting from within if you have the drive. Other skills needed: excellent palate, ability to negotiate with vendors, product sourcing, inventory management, marketing, and an understanding of trends in consumer taste. Travel is sometimes involved and salaries range from $50,000 to $80,000.

Other unusual jobs in food: Food Stylist, Culinary Trendologist, Test Kitchen Taste Tester, Restaurant Publicist, Chocolate Explorer

Hospitality - beyond the concierge, front desk, and hotel manager

Cruise Director

This is an amazing way to travel the world, entertain people, and avoid sitting behind a desk all day. Cruise directors are responsible for all on-board hospitality, entertainment and social events. They act as the public face of the company and are constantly interacting with the guests. For this job you’ll need a charismatic personality, tons of energy, the ability to be away from home for extended periods of time, and experience working in recreation, entertainment and/or hospitality. Here is an example of a job listing for Cruise Director for Royal Caribbean. Salaries can range from $45,000 to $150,000.

Vibe Manager

Hot hotels today are hiring “Vibe Managers” to create the overall “vibe” of the hotel—from the music in the lobby, spa and elevators to creating unforgettable corporate meeting experiences for hotel clients, e.g. setting up a DJ booth in the conference room so the CEO can be spinning pre and post meeting. Read more about the Vibe Manager for Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego here. Salaries range from $50,000 to $75,000. Here is a list of other unique jobs in the hospitality industry.

No matter where your passions lie, you can be sure there are unique jobs that exist in that field … you just have to do some digging to uncover your first or next unconventional career!

Published in Job Hunting