Briana Campbell started Unemployed Brooklyn two years ago as a way to vent her frustrations, insights and inspirations about being an unemployed and single girl in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She is now juggling the following roles: 1) Head of Social Media at full service digital agency, Zemoga 2) Co-Founder, Producer, Community Manager of Work It Brooklyn 3) Member of The Domino Project Street Team 4) Blogger, curator of A Precious Environment. Here she talks with us about her new direction for Unemployed Brooklyn, how she got her current gig, and the importance of asking for what you want.
What inspired you to start Unemployed Brooklyn?
I had been laid off from a job as Operations Manger for a cosmetics company, when the recession hit, at the end of 2008. I started Unemployed Brooklyn at the beginning of 2009, to share my feelings of being unemployed and to hopefully connect with others in the same boat. I wasn’t sure anyone would read it or respond, but I knew that I had to get it out there.
What are your goals with Unemployed Brooklyn?
Since I’ve become employed, my goal for Unemployed Brooklyn has changed, but just slightly. I want to have UB be a place that unemployed and underemployed people can come to for inspiration, advice and to feel connected to something bigger than they are. With the 2012 presidential election approaching, I also hope to rally people to think about what they as citizens can do to help themselves. When you’ve been laid off, you feel helpless, alone and depressed – I want those people to feel like their voice matters and they can make a difference in their own lives. I want them to see that I made change happen in my own life, that I’ve been where they are, and they can do it, too.
How did you get your current job as the Head of Social Media at Zemoga?
I applied for a listing on MediaBistro for a position called “Special Ops.” It’s rare these days, I think to find a really great position through a job listing, as opposed to through contacts, but this happened to work out for me. That job had me juggling a lot of different jobs – one of them being our social media outreach. I was promoted to head of social media a few months ago, after running it, alongside the other duties for about a year. I know that my social media savvy – the skills I had used to promote myself, Unemployed Brooklyn (and Hire Me Martha, another blog I used to write) and Work It Brooklyn – gave me a definite leg up in getting the job at Zemoga. I was hired almost immediately after my interview.
You are also the Co-Founder of Work It Brooklyn. How did that come about?
My two co-founders, Aja Marsh and Joann Kim had met through Joann’s now-defunct Greenpoint Food Market and were talking about how it would be great for people in our community to have a way to meet other creatives – so that they could trade services or get jobs or help each other out. Joann knew that I had a wide network of unemployed and underemployed people that would be interested, and that I had organized Unemployed Happy Hours for my readers many times, so she asked me if I would be interested in helping make it happen.
Every success and connection that people make through Work It Brooklyn makes me feel really excited about how great it is when people are able to come together and help each other out.
What advice do you have for students looking for internships or entry-level jobs?
Be confident. Just because you’re still in school or just out of it doesn’t mean you don’t have a ton to offer. Reach for the dream internship, the dream company. Be open to opportunities. Every person you talk to, especially in a place like New York, is a new connection in your network. And ask. If there is something you want – ask. If you know a person works at your dream company, ask for their help. If you know you’d be great as an intern at a certain place, reach out. You won’t always get what you want, but every request gets you one step closer.
What do you wish you knew when you were in college?
This is something I think about a lot. Here’s the big one: I wish, when I was at school, that I had known it was OK to follow my gut. I listened to a lot of advice from a lot of people, including some who told me I could never be more than I was – that I wouldn’t make it – and I wish I had known it was OK to ignore those people. That all advice should be taken with a grain of salt. We [Zemoga] just had Brian Wong speak at Social Media Week Bogota and this is one of the cores of his presentation on “8 Tips for the Young Entrepreneur.” I think it’s a big one.
Anything you would like to plug?
Aside from he fact that Zemoga is always looking for smart interns – especially in design and marketing? Just to keep reading and commenting on Unemployed Brooklyn and keep an eye on @WorkItBrooklyn for upcoming Fall events.