How to Find Your Voice: Key tips from NY Times Fashion Editor, Simone Oliver

On Wednesday October 17th at Birchbox HQ, New York Times Online Fashion Editor, Simone Oliver, shared the importance of finding you voice. Whether you are changing careers, trying to break into an industry, or working on a promotion, all of this can be accomplished if you are able to create a confident, intelligent voice for yourself. Here are Simone’s tips for finding this voice.

Photo by Stephanie Mauro

 Be Observant

Whether it’s a new job, an internship, or even researching for an opportunity, pay attention to those around you. At a job or internship observe your co-workers routines and keep abreast to the topics and strategies they share. If you are researching an opportunity, follow key leaders in the industry to learn what is current. This is especially important in fashion, where there can be an over-saturation of content and an ever changing list of what and who is in style.

Simone started as a News Assistant at the NY Times. When she began she always observed how her co-workers communicated with each other and how they pitched ideas with confidence. After listening and observing and she was able to adapt to these changes and succeed in her job.

Know the Landscape

Make the effort to learn and study everything there is possible in your field, especially if you are an intern or just starting a job. When you embed yourself with knowledge in your topic- you become the person in the room with an idea.

In 2006 Simone switched from a print news assistant to working on the website at NY Times.  This was at a time when media and content were changing rapidly to accommodate the importance of the internet. Simone had never worked in digital media before and she was insecure. She studied digital content and even read HTML for Dummies to prepare. Eventually she became well versed and confident in the field.

Don’t be afraid to pitch

The reason you observe and learn the landscape is so you can eventually be the person in the room with good ideas. Once you have these ideas- share them with your team. This is how you stand out and how change is made.

As Simone began working on the digital side of NY Times, she knew about audio slideshows: visual stories with audio and photos. A popular piece of the Style Section was Bill Cunningham’s reoccurring photo collection of Street Fashion. Simone had the idea to make this collection an audio slideshow online with commentary by Cunningham himself.  At that time competitors had been using audio slideshows, but the Times Style Section had not. Because Simone was informed and she knew where digital was going, she was able to pitch this idea that eventually came to fruition.

Be a team player

When you know your landscape and have confidence, you have to be able to jump in and get involved. You will get much farther as a team player who is helpful to other colleagues.When needed, ask questions (that means you’re paying attention), and feel confident to pitch and speak up. When you are trying to forage your own path you might be insecure but you need to speak up.

Once Simone was an assistant at the Foreign Desk. She saw a headline the team planned on using and found it offensive. As an assistant she felt uncomfortable, but she knew she should speak up. This honestly helped her established trust with senior editors.

Be your own cheerleader

Once you have confidence you can take a step back and figure out what your strengths are. You can’t just assume “I’m still employed so I must be good at something.” Think about your strengths and create an elevator speech about what you can do based on those skills.


Have you found your own voice? Has it helped you in your career? Share below in the comments.


About the Author

I love education & technology. Current member of the Community Team at bitly. @juliawilson89

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