I've never been an aspiring on-camera journalist. From day 1 of journalism classes at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, I knew I'd be steering clear of the broadcast track—for a few reasons. Primarily, I hate watching myself on camera. I'm a nervous public speaker and freeze up when people are watching—so the idea of a career in front of a camera seemed laughable. Plus anyone who wanted to become a broadcast journalists had a steep, steep climb to the top: and I just knew I wasn't passionate enough about being on-air to do it. The thing was, at the time I began studying journalism, our tracks at Medill made a lot more sense: you could study to write for a newspaper or magazine, train to report on-air, or take courses in Integrated Marketing Communications. The latter was the most quickly adaptable track, in my opinion, so I chose to go down that path. The training I received was excellent and propelled me to where I am today—a full-time employee at Forbes—but looking back, it didn't include much of the training in what working in media today actually requires. We didn't have courses about social media, livestreaming content, or building your personal brand as a journalist. So much of what I do every day relies on my Medill education, but an equal amount doesn't. Instead, it's real world training that I've gotten in my jobs in the real world and mentorship from leaders around me.
But I digress. The point of discussing my Medill training was not to reflect on what's changed in the industry—it's to highlight my staunch belief that I'd never end up on camera during my career. I planned to write—and I do—and later on I planned to create social media content. But doing those things can no longer be possible without also dabbling in video, the holy grail of content creation at the moment.
There wasn't a specific a-ha moment where I decided that it was time to begin working on my on-air content—it happened within the natural career trajectory of my role at Forbes. I was in Boston during our Under 30 Summit, running our Twitter and working with my colleagues to give our audience the best impression of how major and exciting the summit truly was. Luckily for me, our team is willing to embrace new things and gives us the chance to do so, so I decided to give our dormant Periscope account it's very first post. I spontaneously turned the camera (iPhone) on myself and gave our viewers a live tour of the plaza Forbes had taken over during the time of the summit. I walked around, showcasing the incredible activations and pop-up stage where Jason Derulo would later perform, casually talking along the way and trying not to watch the number of live viewers tic up.
It was brief, it was unscripted, and it got 18k views. I was stunned. People wanted to see where we were, what we were doing, and they were showing up to prove that to me. Thus began my work on launching and building out our Periscope strategy — still a work in progress — as well as my personal on-air journey. I won't say that I wasn't nervous at the time, but I wasn't scared, because I knew my content and knew people wanted to see what I had to offer. Since that day, I've done 16 broadcasts, some of which I appear on camera and some where I don't, and each one is more exciting than the last.
Turns out, I love hosting on camera. I love the opportunity to connect with our audience, creating one-of-a-kind content that can't be replicated anywhere else. I wouldn't love a career in broadcast journalism because I wouldn't want to sit at a desk and report other people's stories all day—I want a career in content creation where I can find and tell my own stories any way I want to.
By far the most influential experience of my career thus far has been representing Forbes down at South By Southwest in Austin this year. Our week at the festival was all-consuming in the best possible way. We created content, consumed content, met creatives, got creative, and learned. I hosted my first official Forbes video interviews with names like Justin Hurwitz, Marie Kondo and Kristen Bell. I wrangled an incredibly funny 6-person conversation with Melissa McCarthy and the cast of Nobodies, an experience I will never, ever forget. I battled incredible nerves to sit in front of a camera, mic'ed up and with a calm demeanor, ready to help our guests tell their story to a camera. And each time the camera stopped rolling, I took a deep breath and pinched myself.
I have a long, long way to go as an on-air personality—if you can even call what I'm working on that. My goal is to give the Forbes audience what they want to see, and if I can bring that content to life through my appearance on camera, then that's what I'll keep doing.
I don't know where the media industry will be in five years, and I likely won't have had formal training in what comes next. But as I've learned in my brief foray into new platforms: once you decide to take the plunge and stay true to your journalistic training, you can freely create and never be afraid of what's next.