For years I worked for a company, sometimes spending over 70 hours a week on projects and doing work that didn’t inspire me. For a while, I felt stuck in this career because it was pretty much the only work experience that I had post-college. I didn’t think I was marketable enough to switch industries and finally do the work I dreamt of doing.
Because I was doing work that didn’t inspire me, I decided to make a conscious effort every day to get the work experience that I craved from my current situation. I knew that feeling sad about my current situation wouldn’t serve me or anyone else. No matter where you are in life, there is something you can learn from every experience, and if you’re strategic enough, you can find a way to make your current situation work in your favor.
Mogul Millennial Marquise Francis can attest to the notion of not letting your current situation dictate your career trajectory. As Marquise told me, “Get your experience by any means necessary.”
Marquise Francis is currently the National Reporter/Producer at Yahoo! News. Prior to working for Yahoo!, Marquise spent years gaining experience as an intern for reputable companies, and finding unique ways to stand out and maximize his experience.
Growing up, Marquise was raised in a middle-class household in New Jersey, and had a deep love for basketball. As Marquise told me, “Growing up basketball was my all; you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t going to the NBA!” After Marquise graduated from high school, playing basketball wasn’t quite the next step in his journey, but another passion of his was – working in media.
Marquise went to Syracuse University and studied broadcast journalism with the hopes to one day put his studies to use. As a college student, Marquise was very active – he became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, was Vice President of the NPC Council, worked several jobs, studied abroad, and was involved in the school’s newspaper.
For some college students, figuring out what you want to do post-graduation is difficult, but for Marquise it came easy. Marquise told Mogul Millennial, “I always did great in school, but for me talking in front of people was my gift and was exciting for me. Going through college, I knew that was what I wanted to do.” While at Syracuse, Marquise was able to be apart of an internship program called the Emma Bowen Foundation and that eventually changed his life. The Emma Bowen Foundation is a program designed to help level the playing field in the media space for people of color. Once you apply to be apart of the program and are accepted, you’ll be set up with interviews from companies like NBC, CBS, ABC, etc. With the help of the Emma Bowen Foundation, Marquise ended up landing 3 internships with NBC during the course of his college career.
Upon graduation, Marquise was able to land a job as a Production Assistant/Anchor Producer on PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton and MSNBC. From there, Marquise took on a role with the History Channel doing social media work.
About a year and a half later, Marquise left the History Channel and began working for Yahoo! News as a Social Content Producer. For Yahoo! he was brought in to create social forward videos and help out with social content. Doing this gave him the opportunity to do on-camera reporting during many pivotal moments in history like the election rallies and March for Our Lives. A little over a year later, Marquise was promoted from being a Social Content Producer to being a National Reporter/Producer at Yahoo! News.
Recently, we were able to chat with Marquise and he shared a few tips on how we can all maximize our job, even if we are not working in our dream role.
1. Write your own story
While interning each summer, it was critical for Marquise to make his experience worthwhile. Marquise was very intentional to not do the bare minimum and hide behind his role as “just an intern.” Instead, he strategically built meaningful relationships with his coworkers and people that entered the organization. During this time, Marquise would research key people at his company, and started emailing them. Once as an intern, he ended up getting in touch with Lester Holt and was able to speak with him one on one. If you’re not familiar, Lester Holt is a renowned African American journalist and news anchor for the weekday edition of NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC.
When the head of the internship program found out about him reaching out to Lester Holt, he was mortified and advised him to not do it again. In true, rebellious millennial fashion, Marquise did the exact opposite – he went back to his desk, and emailed more people.
For Marquise, he knew that he would be constantly told no, and told how to move. Marquise told me, “People like to put their own insecurities on you and that’s when they’ll tell you, ‘you can’t do this, or you shouldn’t do that.’” Life is about you believing in yourself and making your dreams happen one way or another. Marquise knew that he could choose to either live his life based on other people’s suggestions, or he could choose his own pathway.
2. Don’t be afraid to speak up
While working for Al Sharpton, Marquise made it a point to make himself stand out beyond what he was hired to do. Besides his normal day to day responsibilities, Marquise would always ask for more and would specifically tell Al Sharpton and his team what value he could provide. Doing this provided him with the opportunity to do more with their social media, he was able to travel more with Al Sharpton, and wrote content for Al’s show.
If Marquise didn’t speak up and tell Al and his team what he could offer beyond what they hired him to do, Marquise may not have received some of the opportunities that he had been given.
3. Get your experience by any means necessary
Marquise advised me, “Wherever you are in life, know that there are always ways to be involved. For example, let’s say you’re in college and you want to work in media. Even if you’re not at a top communications school, you can still get experience and write for the school paper. If your college doesn’t have a paper, start one.” No matter what, no matter where you are career-wise, find ways to get the experience you crave. Another example, as told by Marquise, “If you want to work in communications but you have an administrative job at a pharmacy, be creative and think of ways you can still get communications experience. Maybe that’s creating a social media account if they don’t have one, or starting a monthly series where you bring people out for a panel. Either way it goes, wherever you are in the moment shouldn’t limit your experience. Get your experience by any means necessary.”
There are so many ways you can get creative to get the experience you want where you are at. There is no excuse. As Marquise told me, “People say they want something, but they don’t do the extra push to make it work and get the experience.”
4. Don’t ask for more if you can’t handle what you have
As Millennials we get so caught up in having more, being busy, and leveling up but we sometimes don’t focus on mastering what’s in front of us. Marquise advised, “First master what you’re being asked to do and take it to the next level before you ask for more.”
This is so important especially when we think about Millennials that are looking to launch a business. Sometimes during the act of launching our business, we get excited and bring along additional verticals of our business before we prove that our current business is actually one that people want. Just like Marquise told us, don’t put too many things on your plate that you cannot handle.
5. Don’t sleep on job boards
Typically when someone is job searching, they’ll look on Indeed or on LinkedIn. However, it’s important that you not only submit your resume through those job search platforms, but also through other platforms. Believe it or not, some of the older job search platforms like Ladders and Monster.com are still viable sites.
In particular, Marquise was able to get his job at Yahoo! through Monster.com and he knows plenty of other people that have too. If you’re job searching, upload your resume on several platforms (not just the popular ones that you’ll hear about on social media) and make sure it’s updated at all times.