Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Dreams Won't Work Unless I Do

Always be on.

Never turn off.

Both of these three-word phrases sound so simple, but they mean so much to me. Yesterday I had a WOW moment. You know, those moments that make your arm hairs stand up, get you all jittery inside, and give you legitimate goosebumps. Yep, one of those.

It was a regular day at the office. I had just got in not too long ago and I was rapidly scrolling on my MacBook, determined to catch up on all of my emails from the day before. All of a sudden the assistant to the editor-in-chief walks over and quickly says, “Maya, come here” and goes into the EIC’s office.  

I had no idea what was going on, but I wasted no time and quickly grabbed my notebook and pen (because intern rule #13243253 is that you never go talk to anyone or enter anyone’s office without your pen and notebook in hand.) I walked in a nervous wreck. The editor-in-chief sat me down. She laid out two versions of the September cover on her desk in front of me.

Wait a second…Is this really happening? I thought to myself.

She asked: “Maya, which one of these covers do you like the best and why?” I was shocked. I look at her in awe every single day. Never would I have imagined I would be in this position, offering her my advice on an executive decision she has to make. But I was.

This was my time to shine, and I had to make sure that the sky’s sunbeams were conspiring in my favor.

My Beauty and Style Editors and I taking a work selfie. Aren't they fab? 
The nervousness vanished in half a second when I realized I had to show her what I’m made of. I pay attention. Magazines are what I love; I take the time to study the details, and I’m learning more and more about the craft every day. In impromptu situations like this, it shows. Make it or break it, Maya, I said to myself. I knew I could never take this space or time back so I might as well own it, right?

I confidently told her my pick of the best cover and explained why. I gave her my reasoning and what would attract me to the cover of our magazine. “Good, right answer,” she responded with a smile. “You can never say something without an explanation to back it up.” I walked out of her office the happiest girl in the world.

That moment might seem super small, but it meant so much to me. It validated the fact that my opinion matters. If you put value into what you are saying, others will value your opinion. It’s as simple as that. I’ve read all the self-help books for women that my mentors tell me to read, but I never actually thought I would be practicing the skills in the workplace now, as an intern.  

In order for me to truly be successful I've got to lean in, speak up, raise my hand, offer my say, and not just sit at the table but be an integral part of the conversation, because my opinion matters.

Sometimes small moments teach us BIG lessons and that was a defining one for me. It validated how lucky I am to be a part of a staff that truly values my opinion. To be introduced to a prior Woman’s Day intern and then hear my deputy editor say, “We really lucked out with Maya,” makes me jump for joyliterally. (I’m an advocate of self-expression and occasional happy dances.)

It’s so sad to think that I’m close to my home stretch at Woman’s Day. But I can’t help but smile when reflecting on how awesome of a summer I’ve had. Everything from attending team meetings, pitching at beat meetings, pulling items for the magazine, attending press events, getting bylines, and working with the coolest editors EVER has been so rewarding. 

I’ve gained the incredible experience I’ve had because I do my best to seize every moment. Yesterday showed me that when you do the work even when no one else is around (big or small), it shows.

I explain all of that to say: Always be on. Never turn off. You never know when it’s your time to shine and when it comes it’s going to create the sweetest reward.

 Written By Maya Allen, Howard University, Woman's Day Magazine 
Edited by Christina Jedra, Emerson College, Parents 

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