You know the drill, folks! This week’s Tip Jar features media savvy superstar Nakia Swinton.
You’re currently a Communications Assistant at VICE Media. What types of responsibilities do you have with this position?
I mostly work with VICE’s digital channels and VICE Magazine. When one of the channels has an interesting story or video I contact writers (depending on the subject) and ask them to write about VICE’s content so the company can receive press. I also set up interviews for our writers on mostly radio and sometimes television. I assist at company events and ask writers to attend as well as being the intern supervisor for the department.
What do you like most about the work you’re doing?
I’ve always wanted to work in media so I am super excited I received that opportunity right out of college. I like working with different people in the company and understanding their roles such as the writers, editors and publishers. I also enjoy having a chance to look at the content before it becomes live.
Where did you intern during your college years and what did you learn?
My first internship was with the programming department at BET where I learned a lot about ratings and the importance of competitors’ schedule and a target audience. I then interned with Diversity & Inclusion at NBCUniversal where I learned a lot about internal employee programs for inclusion. My senior year I interned at a music public relations company called Press Here Publicity and the communications department at VH1. Those internships taught me a lot about the PR world, working with talent, writing press releases and pitches and the difference between doing press for TV and music.
You were also a DJ and host for your college radio show “Overnight Delight.” What was that experience like?
That was probably the best decision I made in college. I joined the radio station my first week of school and had my own show as a freshman and for four years of my college career. My radio show helped me land my first internship at BET, which led to all my other opportunities. I also met my best friends at radio and I got to do a show with them once a week, which was great. The show helped me on my producing and hosting skills as well as interviewing with local artists.
Who was the coolest person you spoke with?
I got the opportunity to work with a lot of different underground artists in the North Jersey area with radio. The coolest one I spoke with is a rapper named Shwiggy. He is super talented and he was on the show multiple times and dropped one of his mixtapes live on air.
What professional experience or moment are you most proud of thus far?
The professional moment I am most proud of is landing a media job before graduation because so many people made it seem like it was impossible. I actually started working at VICE before I graduated and still managed to graduate cum laude.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
I either see myself working in the government or in a more creative role within the industry such as producing or programming.
Do you have other hobbies or passions?
My hobbies include doing pilates, going to comedy clubs, freelance writing, hanging out with my friends and family and of course getting a chance to watch TV. My passion is to work with the media and the government to get people educated on important issues and truly make a difference in the world.
What advice can you offer young professionals trying to pursue media careers after college?
My advice would be to take advantage of every opportunity you have in college as well as network as much as you can. A lot of students don’t understand that the media industry is very competitive and is mostly about your experience and whom you know. You can also stand out by doing simple things like tailoring your resume and cover letter to the job, arriving on time and sending a thank you email after your interview. It’s surprising to see how many students don’t do simple things.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
This is so cliche for a reason but everything happens for a reason and everyone’s journey is different so do not compare yours to others. Just work as hard as you can and you will be rewarded.
How can others connect with you?
I’ve had students reach out to me on LinkedIn and there is a 99% chance I will answer because being a recent graduate I understand the position they are in. You can also connect with me on Twitter (@kia_swinton) and Instagram (@kia.swins).
Read Nakia’s published work here: