How to Turn Your Internet Obsession into a Career
Kira Fisher tells us how she parlayed sad desk lunches into a dream gig at Twitter.
Introducing How to Make It, Clover's career column. Here, some of the smartest, coolest, and most successful women we know share career tips, life advice, and other invaluable wisdom they've learned along the way.
Like most of us, Kira Fisher spent her teenage years on the internet: chatting with online friends, writing in her diary on sites like Xanga, and staying on top of trends happening back home in the U.S. (she lived in Moscow during high school). Now she's still on the internet and keeping tabs on world trends—but this time she's at Twitter, where she's the Brand Content Editor. With her whip-smart feed and sadly relatable Sad Desk Lunch Tumblr, the New York resident proves that you can turn your bad web habits into an A+ career.
What were you like as a teen?
A gangly, loud, opinionated oddball.
As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
Always embrace a challenge but understand (and accept!) when something doesn't feel like you. You should be in situations that either bring out your best self or lead you on a path to it.
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
As a teen I found a home on the internet—I taught myself how to code and was building "personal websites" (read: diaries) online for years. I had a ton of internet friends who were instrumental in those awkward middle school years where dealing with the direct world around me was incredibly overwhelming. Because I lived overseas, I used the internet as a means of connecting with my home country (the U.S.) and keeping track of American trends, music, and books. However, I didn't really get how I could work for the internet. I knew HTML but didn't consider myself a coder. By the time I went to college I was just so passionate about learning; I went to a liberal arts college where I had total control over what I was learning. That was incredibly thrilling, because I was curious about so many things. I took classes in sociology, media studies, modern Japanese history, tons of creative writing classes, even dabbled in Chinese, and ended up a Political Science major. Obviously I was on the internet the whole time—but never did I think a job in tech was in my future.
I ended up doing AmeriCorps for a year working for a community healthcare network in Manhattan after graduation. It didn't feel like me. I wished I was being more creative, and on a petty level, I hated wearing Ann Taylor pants all day. I ended up getting an email from someone I did a fellowship with in college (important point: cultivate your connections) and she forwarded me a job description at BBC Motion Gallery. The job description actually said: "Knowledge of and interest in popular culture, history, world news, geography, etc, required." Spoiler alert: I got the job! I was there for two-and-a-half years doing educational clip licensing. One day I got a great chat from a friend-of-friend who just started at Tumblr—one of my favorite websites EVER—and told me she was looking for account managers for their first sales team.
As soon as I entered tech, things started making sense. I transitioned to Studio@Gawker, Gawker Media's in-house branded content studio, then nabbed my current role at Twitter running Promoted Moments with the same savvy. During my interviews at Twitter, it was the first time I heard myself and believed myself. I knew I was in a field that accentuated my skill set and my general passions.
What's one thing you wish had known then that you know now about having a career?
The power of a good manager and, hopefully, mentor. A good manager knows how to proactively make you better, provide constructive feedback, and more importantly, be your advocate. Be kind to everyone, including admin assistants and junior-level employees. Say thank you profusely and tell people they are doing a good job. Finally, don't eat lunch at your desk. Try and use your lunch hour as a way of building relationships with your colleagues, or at least use it as an excuse to take a brain break. (I started saddesklunch.com so I'm incredibly passionate about that one.)
What work advice do you have for teens or for young people just starting out?
I like to tell people starting off, list companies or websites or things you like. Then follow those things and see what job openings are there. I'm so lucky to have worked for companies that I've had intimate personal relationships with—BBC for being my newswire my entire life, Tumblr for being my digital canvas, Gawker for being my go-to guilty pleasure, and Twitter for being my live connection to culture. My feelings for these products didn't change when I started working there. Second, don't limit yourself (especially for your first job). What a job actually ends up being really evolves. You actually don't really know what goes into the day to day grind, and taking anything in an industry that compels you will give you good experience.