In a new series on Independent.ie Style, we speak to Irish women who inspire us and find out how they got the job they're in today, what trials and tribulations they faced on their career path and what advice they have to give to working women in today's world.
First up, we speak to Galway native Michaela O'Shaughnessy, Social Media Producer at Teen Vogue and the brains behind lifestyle and fashion blog Life Of A Lady Bear.
Did you always want to work in social media/fashion?
I have had an interest in fashion from a young age and was always eager to learn more about social media to help grow my fashion blog, Life of a Lady Bear, but I never actively thought about a career in fashion. Living in Ireland, it never seemed like a realistic expectation for me. Even though the Irish fashion industry has grown leaps and bounds over the past few years, growing up in Galway I was never exposed to that side of the industry.
Growing up, what did you want to be?
When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor. All throughout secondary school I loved everything to do with biology and chemistry, so I studied Biomedical Science in NUI Galway with the hopes of going on to study post-graduate medicine. However as time went by, I slowly started to become interested in business and particularly marketing, so once I graduated I decided that I would go back to college to pursue post-graduate studies in business.
How did you find yourself on this career path?
Truthfully, I ended up working in social media by accident. Initially when I moved to New York, I was looking for a marketing position so I uploaded my resume to several job posting websites and within a few days I was contacted by a recruiter about a social media role at MTV. Thankfully, I had a social presence of my own because of my blog, which they were impressed with, and I was offered the job soon after. Prior to that, I never thought that working in social media was a "thing" because it's such a relatively new industry.
Did you face any challenges along your way to this career? If so, what are some notable obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
I think the biggest obstacle I've had to face was actually figuring out what career path I wanted to pursue. Coming from a biomedical science background, I certainly felt the pressure to stay in that industry and thought it was quite a risky move to shift paths completely to study business, but on reflection it definitely was the best decision I ever made. And then of course, making the decision to move to New York was another big obstacle but thankfully it's going well out here, so it was worth overcoming.
Are you a believer in having a five year plan?
I'm definitely a huge believer in setting goals for yourself to achieve, but personally I don't have a five year plan. If you told me five years ago that one day I would be living in New York and that I would have worked with MTV and Teen Vogue, I would have never believed you! So instead of having a huge plan for the next five years, I take it year by year and ensure that I do everything in my power to achieve whatever goals I set for myself.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in social media/fashion?
From my own personal experience, I know for a fact that having a blog and a social presence was a huge factor in helping me land my first position in social media. One look at your blog or social accounts instantly tells a prospective employer that you're consistent, you're dedicated, you're knowledgeable about the industry and allows them to learn more about you than a quick glimpse at a resume ever could.
Being active on Linkedin is also so important these days, connect with the hiring managers at brands you love and write them a quick note mentioning that you admire their brand and would love to be considered for any upcoming positions. If I've learned anything, it's that nothing will come to you. You need to actively pursue your dreams and put yourself out there.
What women inspire you?
I'm inspired by so many women on a daily basis, firstly my mom who has worked so hard her whole life while raising kids. Secondly I admire any woman who has an entrepreneurial spirit. There are so many Irish female entrepreneurs that inspire me, in particular milliner Jennifer Wrynne. She pursued something that she's passionate about and has been so successful at such a young age and I find her work ethic extremely admirable.
What’s a typical day like?
A typical day for me starts with either a Pilates class or a walk through Central Park. It's the one hour of the day where I allow myself to shut off completely. Once I arrive into the office, I usually start to plan what to post on Teen Vogue's social channels that day. The nice thing about my job is that every day brings something different, whether it's working behind the scenes at a photoshoot or shooting a Facebook Live with a celebrity guest, no day is ever the same.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Without a doubt my career highlight so far was when I got to work at the Video Music Awards in Los Angeles back when I worked with MTV. It was my first time working on a huge production and I had the most amazing opportunities to meet some musicians that I've always loved. Any time I get to work at a red carpet event with Teen Vogue is also a pinch me moment.
What skills/traits do you think are necessary for your job?
Working in social media is genuinely a 24/7 job, there is no such thing as only working 9-5 because the internet (just like New York), never sleeps. So it definitely requires a huge amount of dedication. I also think it's quite important to be creative when working in social media because you are always under pressure to constantly produce innovative content that people will relate to. That said, being analytical is also vital because you need to be able to read and understand the data to see how well that content is performing.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
That's a tough question! I would love to be living back in Ireland running my own social or digital marketing agency. I'd also love to eventually launch my own stationary line off of my blog, Life of a Lady Bear! Who knows what the future holds, but I live by the motto that if you work hard and are kind to people then good things will come your way!