I believe everything happens for a reason. Whether it’s a job, an opportunity, or being in the right place at the right time. In college I was determined to intern in New York City. I knew I had to be in the city to further a career in fashion, editorial or anything creative. I was born and raised in Arizona, and I was at a breaking point. I put all my eggs in one basket when applying for internships; I only looked in New York and was hoping for the best. I ended up landing an editorial internship at Redbook magazine—it was more than I could have expected—and my summer in NYC led to so many opportunities!
During my internship, I heard about a networking event hosted by FindSpark. I love, like seriously love, networking events. I get a rush of excitement when I hand my business card to someone, and I have perfected my elevator speech to a T. Maybe it’s the same kind of excitement you get when swiping on a dating app (ok, but seriously. I know you’ve all been on them at least once). Maybe you’ll actually connect with that person. Who will reach out first? Will you like each other? It’s a game of chance, but it’s exciting! Although I haven’t had much success on the dating apps (I admit I have used them), I have had much more success at networking events. And FindSpark was that perfect match.
I was unfamiliar with FindSpark at the time but was intrigued and ready to shake some hands. After work on the day of the event, I ventured downtown with some fellow interns. By the time we arrived, the event had reached capacity. We ended up getting shuffled next door to a bar until the rest of the group showed up for the after party. This change of events actually ended up being in our favor! We met so many cool individuals – interns from ESPN, ETSY, NBC, and more. I sat down next to a girl and started chatting. Her name was Sam and she was working at a magazine as a photographer assistant. She told me that she was a photographer on the side too.
Side Note: I manage a fashion and lifestyle blog, Simply Audree Kate, and was looking for a NYC-based photographer for my outfit posts at the time.
A couple weeks later, Sam and I met up and take some photos for my blog. It was the perfect match! It was so random that we both didn’t make it into the event, that we set next to each other, and ultimately started working together.
I moved to NYC 14 months later and hired Sam as my blog’s official photographer. She now photographs all of my outfit posts, and any other big projects I’m working on for my site. It’s been a great partnership and I look forward to growing and working with her as the years go on!
But wait, that’s not it. Once I moved back to New York, I formed a relationship with the FindSpark team. I attended some events and was asked to be a panelist at their fashion conference in March 2016. At the event I spoke with dozens of fashion students and it was incredible being able to go back two years after being “in their shoes” and share my experiences with them, and talk about how FindSpark was a matchmaker for my photographer and I. At the event I connected with a current LIM student. She followed up with me a few weeks after the event and we decided to grab coffee.
At the end of the meeting I hired her as an editorial and social media intern for my website. She embodied the characteristics that a true FindSpark member—she went above and beyond to create her network, seek out opportunities and jumpstart her career. I was impressed, and I knew I needed her on my team.
During my past two years with the FindSpark Community I have grown tremendously as a professional, a mentor and a creative individual. I feel very fortunate that I have had the opportunities I have with FindSpark, and that I was able to create my business within the community.
Going forward into your next networking event, internship or happy hour, the best thing you can do is be open and aware of who’s around you. There’s more than just shaking hands and handing out your business cards. Sure, you’ll get the thrill of acting like an adult while exchanging information, but how many of those business cards and connections do you really act upon? Take responsibility and foster a friendship, professional relationship or create a project with them. Not only will this build your network, but it will also allow you to work with like-minded individuals. I love that I get to work with a team that shares my passion for the creative industry, who loves NYC and what it has to offer. FindSpark was truly my professional matchmaker!
There are over 20,000 individuals in the FindSpark community. I can guarantee that there are at least five, if not 20 or 100 people in the community who share similar interests as you; who would like to work with you, or at the very least, exchange business cards and grab coffee. I encourage you to attend an event, join the FindSpark Community Facebook group, and follow along on social media to stay in the loop.
Your next boss, intern or best friend might be at the next event, and all it takes is for you to attend. Let’s do this!