#MakeAFuss: How a Galway woman landed a job running Teen Vogue's social media
"Even though it was difficult to get set up in New York, I think it was the right decision to make!"
The Devil Wears Prada, Ugly Betty, even Sex and The City - for lots of us, working in the media in New York City sounds like the ultimate dream job.
But do the glamour, fast pace and dog-eat-dog mentality we see on screen translate to real life?
Yes and no, says Michaela O'Shaughnessy.
The Galway native works as a social media manager for Teen Vogue in New York, overseeing content across the legendary publication's social platforms.
Her personal Instagram feed is instantly envy-inducing. She does love what she does, she tells us, but didn't originally even know that it could be a full-time job.
Michaela had her heart set on the world of medicine and did Biomedical Science in NUIG after leaving school.
It was during her undergrad that she realised she was far more interested in marketing and so she pivoted and studied business. She spent her summers in college working internships in New York and waitressing at night.
"I realized that there’s so much opportunity in this city to grow your career and learn a lot, especially if you’re willing to push yourself and work very hard.
"As soon as I finished my final exams, I moved to New York and started applying for jobs in digital marketing and advertising.
"I actually didn’t even realise that there were jobs entirely dedicated to social media until a recruiter reached out to me about a social position at MTV."
Michaela jumped at the chance to interview with the iconic media brand. In a notoriously tough job market, it was no walk in the park.
"As an immigrant it’s even harder because you’re competing against a lot of American applicants who sometimes have an Ivy League education which is obviously very appealing to employers.
"When it comes to the fashion industry, I think it’s even more difficult to land that highly coveted dream job because within the industry it’s a lot about who you know that can help you get your foot in the door."
As it turned out, she didn't need to know anyone to seal the deal - her personal blog she'd been running in her spare time, Life of a Lady Bear, appealed to the interviewer and helped her land a role as a social creative.
"You could be replaced in the morning."
Michaela later moved to Condé Nast to join Teen Vogue's social media team.
"It’s such an iconic brand that publishes such well-known magazines like Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour and many others so to even be a small part of it all is incredibly humbling and a great opportunity to learn from some of the greatest people in the industry."
As part of her job, Michaela now regularly attends events like the Met Gala and New York Fashion Week, meets celebrities and comes up with interesting ways to cover everything from politics to pop culture on Instagram.
It's 'pinch yourself' territory for a girl who grew up in the west of Ireland but it's definitely not an easy role.
"Business culture seems to be very different here compared to Ireland," she says.
"Especially in New York, it seems like work-life balance isn’t as good and there’s a lot of pressure to perform the best you can or else you could be replaced in the morning.
"The most difficult part is definitely that you’re never able to completely switch off.
"Over the weekends I always have my two phones with me in case any breaking news happens that needs social coverage, so it’s definitely not just nine-to-five, Monday through Friday but once you get used to that, you begin to take it in your stride and just get on with it."
There are plenty of perks too and Michaela happily puts paid to the bitchy stereotype of working at a fashion publication.
"I work with a team of incredibly talented and innovative young people who constantly teach me so much about the world and always push me to be the best I can be, as well as making me laugh every single day," she tells us.
"I wish I could tell my younger self to throw caution to the wind."
It's a role she didn't dare dream of in her early twenties, admitting she had "zero confidence" in herself.
"When I look back at my 21-year-old self, I remember feeling so stressed and worried about where I would end up with my career.
"I thought that because I switched industries from biomedical science to business that I would be at a huge disadvantage when job hunting, but I was so wrong! I wish I could tell my younger self to throw caution to the wind and just go for it."
Self-belief and perseverance are two things she's keen to stress when asked what she'd tell someone looking to get into social media.
"I think the best piece of advice I have to offer someone is to listen to your gut and never settle.
"If you truly believe you can achieve something or land your dream job, then don’t quit until you do."
As for where her own future lies? She may be living the American dream but it's not forever, she says.
"As much as I love New York it’s definitely not somewhere I would like to settle.
"I think the biggest challenge of moving home will be figuring out what my career will look like over there.
"I definitely feel hopeful that I’ll be able to take all of my experience from working here and use it to either start my own company or work in a digital marketing capacity for a brand over there. Who knows!"
Feature image by Zac Krevitt.
We know that Irish businesswomen are a force to be reckoned with so here at Her.ie, we're making a fuss of the ladies who’ve made a fuss on their journey to success.
We want to celebrate the grafters and the risk-takers, those who’ve followed a passion or spotted a niche, those still forging their own path and those who are at the top of their game.
In our series Make A Fuss, we’re talking to inspiring Irish women in business about their careers, what they’ve learned along the way and where they’re going next.
Know a kickass woman in business? Get in touch with us via email@example.com and let us know.