by Hannah R.
When I received an email that WriteGirl was offering full scholarships to GenHERation’s “Discovery Days 2016,” I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity (even if it did mean that I would have to wake up at 6 AM!). GenHERation is a company that strives to empower young women to rise to positions in power and create their own futures. Their summer installment of Discovery Days strives to embrace this mission by taking high school and college students to visit successful companies around the country in five different cities. I had the chance to tour Los Angeles over the course of two days and learn how to make my dreams reality from some of the most dedicated female executives.
There is some sort of magical feeling that one gets when they walk onto the Warner Bros. lot, the type of feeling that makes you feel like you’re going to meet Johnny Depp or get your big break. We were directed to a theater to see a panel of women working for “DC SuperHero Girls.” The panelists included everyone from the Creative Director of Development at DC Entertainment, who takes DC characters and develops them into TV shows, to the Senior Vice President of Global Franchise Management, who helps bring franchises around the world.
I didn’t know that these titles existed, which made me realize the amount of people contributing to the creation of a film. We were advised to utilize what connections are available to us, and when we make these connections, to pay them forward to other people trying to get their foot in the door. How do you make these connections? Try sending a note to alumni at your high school or college who work in the industry you are interested in.
William Morris Endeavour (WME)
We’ve all had that dream of being “discovered,” and what better place to do so than a talent agency? As one of the largest talent agencies in the world, WME has not only served Hollywood entertainers, but also aspiring entrepreneurs and athletes. We had the opportunity to hear from women who serve in departments such as non-scripted television, music, tech start-ups, commercials/endorsements, and employment wellness.
Talent agents must be fierce, hardworking, and passionate as the process of becoming a talent agent may take four to six years. The path normally begins with working in the “music mailroom,” working your way up to being an assistant to an agent, and then being promoted to a coordinator or agent trainee. With so much experience, the panelists had plenty of advice to share, but I was most surprised to learn that people on top want to help you! Don’t be afraid to make connections by sending your resume to people in the business, asking for informational interviews, or telling everyone you know about your dream career.
Ernst & Young (EY)
As a firm that is “building a better working world,” EY helps other companies run smoothly by aiding other business in make effective decisions. Some of the questions they ask when helping other businesses are “Does this make sense?” “How do we integrate this into your current business?” or “What types of risks are in place when you use this technology?” The panelists encouraged us to have a mentor or sponsor. A mentor is “someone beside you” who guides you in the right direction and who will be there to talk with you about anything; while a sponsor is “someone in front of you” who has power and is putting their brand at stake in order to invest in you.
We were lucky enough to receive a tour of the laid back office of TOMS, which is reminiscent of summer camp, or even a park: there are picnic tables, giant tents, an outdoor stage, a dog-friendly environment, and… slides. Two of them, to be exact.
The panel consisted of a variety of women with different jobs that include managing the giving trips, part of TOMS’ “one-for-one” project in order to help give back to communities in need, and helping local entrepreneurs jumpstart their careers to change the world. One of the most important aspects about the TOMS company is to be able to work as a team, and the panelists had a few words of wisdom to share about how to be successful in a collaborative environment.
For example, to be a team player you have to be a great listener, which may mean inviting participation from all parties. Additionally, “don’t just look at the situation through your lens” because not only one person has the answer. But most importantly, find your role within a team and hone in on your strength to not just be a contributor, but an impacter!
Though I’ve never used Uber, I was curious about what I would learn from their panelists since it’s one of the most popular and innovative apps at the moment. The panelists’ jobs consisted of real estate searching for more Uber offices, to experiential marketing in order to find new ways to market Uber with other brands. Though the women had a plethora of advice to offer, the mantra I continually heard from them was, “Always be hustling.”
They explained that in such a competitive world of technology, you have to keep up, or - even better - be ahead of the game. So what would this look like? In a business like Uber, you must “have self-confidence, look towards the fastest path, and make decisions on the fly.” When you are working for someone, whether you are an intern or an executive, don’t just do what you’re given. When you are proactive and ask to help someone, you stand out from the crowd! The worst they can do is say “no,” but chances are they will need all the help they can get.
The GRAMMY Museum
As an aspiring songwriter, I was especially excited about visiting The GRAMMY Museum.
We were taken into a room with artifacts from the American folk era to meet three panelists. One woman works as the membership coordinator, meaning she organizes the memberships with the museum in order to raise funds to support the museum as well as music education, a long time mission of the GRAMMYs. Another woman works in the marketing and social media arena of the museum in which her goal is “to drive traffic to the exhibits” by “media buying” (advertising through mediums such as print advertisements) and even marketing for concerts. The last panelist works as the museum’s communications manager, acting as a publicist for the museum by doing write-ups about the museum’s new exhibits as well as editing descriptions for the artifacts.
“Museums are about telling stories,” they explained. In order to make these stories unforgettable, the GRAMMY Museum curators must connect a music fan with something they remember, like a favorite childhood song or their first concert experience.
I want to thank WriteGirl and GenHERation again for giving me one of the best experiences of my life. Because of Discovery Days, I was able to explore different careers, network with executives, and learn about the skills I need to reach my goals. Let’s be the genHERation that changes the world!
by Luna G.
I had an amazing opportunity to meet multiple female executives from 4 different companies and organizations as part of GenHERation’s Discovery Days 2016. Traveling all over Los Angeles along with dozens of other girls, we visited the offices of Uber, TOMS, The GRAMMY Museum, and also spoke to the CEO of Coolhaus. Pretty cool stuff. It genuinely surprised me how diverse the entire group was, there were girls of all different backgrounds with one common interest --they want to become businesswomen.
Our first stop was the TOMS office. The space was beautiful, built around the belief that employees work best when they're comfortable, it included everything from hand knit swing chairs and a slide in the office as a fun alternative to stairs. We spoke to female developers and organizers of the company, who told us about the logistics of running a company that gives back as much as TOMS does.
After that we went to UBER. The women of TOMS had a freer approach to business that relied more on the fundamental concept of giving back, while UBER seemed to run on speed and innovation. During our visit to both companies, we took part in simulations in which we had to develop our own products for each company. After UBER, we hopped on the bus with a surprise guest--The CEO of architecturally inspired ice cream shop, Coolhaus. Stuck in traffic from Santa Monica to DTLA, we got an intimate conversation about the ins and outs of running a small business and seeing it grow into a million dollar enterprise. It was truly inspiring to see so many successful women thriving in the business world. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I'm grateful I got to be part of this day!
by Leaf H.
TOMs. Zig-zagging down the slide at TOMs, I felt like a kid again. It was a bumpy ride, yet an unforgettable one during my time on the GenHERation tour of Los Angeles. One of my most memorable stops on the tour, TOMs inspired me tremendously. The layout of their office was one with imagination written all over it. From the ping-pong table, the wall of hearts, and the azure slide to the mini-golf course, the fitness gym, and the hammock-style seats, they created an atmosphere of relaxation and familiarity. It was a surprise for me that you can actually have fun at work, a concept I never knew existed before. For instance, the finance department works in a glass room known as the fishbowl, and claims to be the FUNance department. Another concept was introduced by the panel of TOMs employees: "it is possible to do good and make money." Inspired by his trip in Argentina, Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie promotes frequent giving trips for their one-for-one program. That is, with each purchase of a pair of TOMs, the company will give another pair to people, particularly children, without shoes in countries stricken with poverty. Did you know that TOMs also makes bags, glasses, and coffee nowadays, not just shoes?
UBER. I never called an Uber before. However, after this experience, I am tempted to do so. Located in Santa Monica, Uber has a professional working environment, friendly employees, and great lunch. During our time there, we learned about the vast network of places Uber services, from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Portland, Utah, Hawaii all the way to Saudi Arabia. From the panel, we learned about some of Uber's current projects, such as UberEats, an instant food delivery system. Speed and price are what sets UberEats' instant food delivery apart. From Uber, we also got to take home countless advice about the workplace, "always be hustling," "be an owner, not a renter," and "be problem-solvers.”
Warner Brothers. “Friends.” “Harry Potter.” “Casablanca.” “Pretty Little Liars.” “Ellen.” During our Warner Brothers tour, we saw behind the scenes of some of the world's most popular shows and movies. Being a Friends fanatic, I paid special attention to all of the “Friends” sets. It astonished me that they were not always what they seemed in the show. The famous Central Perk cafe, for example, seemed oddly foreign with cameras and thousands lights installed on the ceiling. Our tour guide explained that those were used to make the actors look their best during filming, though air conditioners had to be used due to high temperatures caused by the lights. In the episode where Phoebe runs, a decent-sized park was shown in the show. However, in reality, it was all the work of special effects. Spanning no more than fifteen meters long, a pavement was shot and looped again and again. We also had the privilege of meeting the team behind the new kids cartoon show series, “DC Superhero Girls.” It was quite a surprise to me that there was a job for a commercial manager, the person responsible for all the commercial products, toys, action figures, plushies, and comic books sold in stores.
by Diana B.
There are many things I learned in GenHERation Discovery Days program. One of them was that the backlot of Warner Brothers is open to the public and offers tours of studio and movie sets. A team of Warner Brothers executives created a show called “DC Superhero Girls” that is about superheroes in high school. Additionally, there are talent agencies all around California and one of them is called William Morris Endeavor. The people at WME work with the Kardashians. I learned that there's a job called talent agents. Talent agents are people responsible for finding jobs for models, musicians, and actors. Talent agents are very influential in Hollywood. I didn't know that CEOs don't have an age limit or that CEO meant Chief Executive Officer. I was surprised and inspired by the the CEO of GenHERation because she's only 21 years old and a role model to many, including me, already. I was very pleased and satisfied with GenHERation Discovery Days. I want to thank everyone at WriteGirl for this scholarship because it really helped me grow and realize that I also have the ability to be a leader of the next generation. I hope WriteGirl is able to provide scholarships again next year.