In high school, sometimes even in middle school, counselors give students career assessments like a KDI (key development indicators) and Myers Briggs Type Indicator to give them an insight into what their future career could be. If you’re analytical and a people person, you can be a business executive. If you excel in science and math and can stand the sight of blood, you can be a doctor. I understand reassuring students that their unique traits will lead them to a bright future is beneficial, but what about the student whose personality doesn’t match the blueprint of their destined journey?
I’ve always been a shy and reserved person. I call it observing my environment before reacting, others call it being an introvert. My shyness never stopped my excitement and passion for music and television. I never imagined I would combine my work ethic and passion to land opportunities in the entertainment industry, but it happened. From my very first internship experience, I noticed the industry is filled with big, beautiful personalities, both on and off the screen. Especially in PR, your job is to connect the dots and build meaningful relationships throughout your career. Initially, I had doubts that I would ever be able to succeed in entertainment PR because of my reserved manner. I muted my doubts one night by saying to myself, “Ciara, you’re not the first reserved person that wants to work in entertainment.” Also, “why don’t you look at the positive side and see how your introversion could be a superpower in the industry?” From there, I knew it would be a challenge but possible.
I have met other young professionals who identify as introverts that have accomplished amazing things in the entertainment industry. Chelsea Maddred, NYU Class of 2020 shared her personal experience stating, “Trying to break into an industry that thrives on big personalities has definitely been a challenge as an introvert. While I know that my introversion allows me to bring a different set of strengths to the table, at times it feels as though it holds me back. Networking events, for example, can be a bit draining for my social battery, and in an industry all about connections they happen a lot. I tend not to speak much in those larger groups, which makes it harder to stand out and be memorable. While initially this felt like a disadvantage for me, I learned to ask more questions, listen intently in group conversation, and take the time to notice the details about others. This way I can reserve my energy since I don’t have to say much and I have a lot more to speak to when I connect with those people later on in smaller groups or one-on-one settings where I’m more comfortable.”
Networking can be difficult for anyone but being around bigger crowds can make it more nerve-wracking. My best advice is to not feel like you have to walk out of a networking event with dozens of contacts. Observe the room, make yourself comfortable, think about your elevator pitch and how you want to approach people.
I also want you to repeat the following statement three times: introversion does not make someone an inefficient communicator. Introversion, at least for me, allows me to think before I speak. It allows me to make a plan strategically about who I want to build a relationship with. My advice to a young professional who may doubt their power in the entertainment industry is you’re lucky to be in an industry that allows you to express yourself fully. If you don’t see the space or community you want, make it for yourself. Everyone is figuring things out as they go, no one has the exact right answer. You’re growing, and still finding your grounding, remain yourself and work hard.
I’ve seen throughout my experiences that my ambition ALWAYS reduces my introversion. At the end of the day, you are your advocate in this industry. Especially at the beginning of your career. Your introversion will not stop you from speaking up for yourself and your passion project, your fear will. You are in power of your success, never forget that.
Sometimes working in the entertainment industry can be fast paced and hectic but it will challenge you to evolve as a professional and a person. If you dream of being the next Shonda Rhimes or Yvette Noel-Schure, don’t let your fear or introversion overrule your decision. You got this!