Facebook’s Katherine Shappley Advises Media’s Next Generation

For young people striving to forge a career in media, it is both the best of times and the worst of times. The best because there have never been so many companies and pathways into the media field. The worst because the transformative change in our industry could make some career path choices obsolete in a few years. How can one successfully navigate?

MediaVillage’s 1stFive initiative helps young up-and-comers navigate their entry into a media career from internship through the first five years. At their annual 1stFive meeting this past week, seasoned media executives met with current student interns to offer advice for a successful career entry.

Katherine Shappley, Head of U.S. Agency at Facebook, offered her insights on managing one’s online presence while at the same time going beyond technology to form impactful and authentic human interactions. She described a deft balancing act.

Shappley’s own career path took an international form. She participated in a Semester at Sea while at university and from there sated her self-described “curiosity bug” by teaching in Korea, the Czech Republic and Turkey before launching her media career at Microsoft, then Time Inc and now Facebook.

In her presentation to students, she offered the following insights as to how to best prepare for a career in media … or for any career for that matter:

1.       Curate Your Reputation through the Careful Use of Technology.
Most of us love to post our activities on social media and most activities are fairly benign. But Shappley offered a word of caution. “Technology is transforming the way we do business,” she explained, “and connections are important. You need to manage your online profile. So don’t post your drinking binges on social media, for example. We are in a more transparent world than before.”

2.       There is Great Value in Human Interactions.
It is very easy to rely solely on email to communicate with prospective employers and current contacts but that would be a mistake, according to Shappley. She advises, “Remember to pick up the phone and have a conversation. It is our digital nature to send a series of emails but stop doing that. Have a conversation. Look them in the eye. Make time. There are only 24 hours in a day and you have an opportunity to meet with many people. Make meaningful connections with those who can help you in your career path. Ask for a 30 minute meeting request. Have specific questions and make a relevant impact.”

3.       Yes It is a Career But Remember to Have Fun
A work environment should also be a comfortable and hopefully fun place for an employee to thrive. Shappley believes that one can best succeed by working for a company that is a cultural fit as much as a skills fit. “Find people who you want to work with, have fun with and laugh with,“ she recommends, “It will be an awesome experience no matter what you do.”

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