I truly believe I’m genetically pre-dispositioned with a career-focused mind. As a child, I preferred playing “Work” instead of “House.” In my daydreams, I romanticize a career in which I live in New York City, strut happily down the sidewalk in fabulous heels (or better yet, catch a ride in a company car), work hard, doing what I love, for a company I’m passionate about. That’s the dream. No matter how many times my mother tells me reality won’t be that kind, there’s still a seed of hope inside of me believing that at least some aspects of that dream can become tangible.
The biggest part of that dream is calling New York my home, and maybe in 10 years calling myself a New Yorker. But no one’s ever called New York easy. And getting to the city, having the “break in” moment, can feel just as hard as the concrete city streets themselves. In high school, while plotting my 5-year life plan to get me to New York, I never would’ve guessed that a little photo sharing app called Instagram would secure me my first “gig” in the city.
Now Instagram doesn’t get full credit. I’d like to think I had a resume to back up the first impression I made on the app. I hustled to get a Marketing and PR internship *before* I stepped foot onto a college campus. Which led to a paid Marketing internship after my freshman year. And here’s where Instagram aesthetics come into play.
The summer after my freshman year, otherwise known as The Summer I Worked Full Time and Was Bored While Living At Home Because All My Friends Went To Camp. An excessive title, I know, but true. I spent three full days a week in a small financial planning office and the other two days nannying an infant (by far the best birth control there ever was!!). Both challenging in their own rights, neither providing me a creative outlet. A good thing in the end because it taught me to fervently pursue a personal creative outlet. I started blogging regularly, messed around in Photoshop more, and made Instagram my personal art project.
The more aesthetically-blogger-basic I became, that many more “likes” came rolling in. I tried that look on for size, it didn’t quite feel right (and I wrote about that here) but it helped me in the DMs. Note: a well-designed and well-kept blog also helped, but that’s another story for another day. Yes, I slid into my then-future boss’ direct messages on Instagram. Too which she responded with “It’s October. You’re too eager, email me in January.” (That’s a paraphrased version FYI). I emailed her my resume approximately three days into the new year, and accepted the internship a few days after.
I flew to New York at the end of May with three suitcases for 11 weeks. And the rest is history.
That internship may be the one and only time I’ll land a job with absolutely no prior connections. Does that make Instagram the new resume for millennials? Someone with a sphere of influence and ‘Instagram influencers’ are very different forces, in my opinion. My goal, both on social media and on this blog, was never to be a capital “B” Blogger, but to exercise a creative muscle I hope to use in a future job. I’ve been mistaken for self-promotion (but if I don’t tell you I posted something, HOW WILL YOU KNOW?) and I probably post more than most on Instagram, but it’s just because I enjoy it oh so much! It’s connected me to so many people I otherwise would never have known existed (I call these people my Internet friends), and opened up more doors of opportunity than any free download from the App Store should.
All this to say, Instagram is equal parts visual-fun and a tool. Use it, and enjoy it. And don’t be afraid to DM someone regarding your dream internship, job, etc.
If that’s not enough, here are more internship “do’s” and “don’ts” (featuring a photo of yours truly) (now *THAT’S* self-promotion).
GIF made by me.