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UNCW Alumna Makes Her Dreams a Reality

Monday, December 21, 2015

By Francesca Giordano

Many of us imagined what our life would look like when we would become “grown up.” We had dreams and aspirations that we thought would make up our future. Timing can put our dreams on hold or allow doubt to overshadow our capabilities. This was not the case for Kaitlyn Russell, class of 2015. The former UNCW COM Studies student knew what she wanted and she was determined to go and get it.

Russell had dreams of moving to New York ever since she could remember, and she did everything she could throughout college to see it to fruition. Russell founded the Her Campus chapter at UNCW, a national online magazine geared towards colligate women. She also interned for WILMA magazine, was a contributing writer for USA Today, blogged for Huffington Post, while also working up to 40 hours a week in order to support herself. “I saved money throughout college by working full-time,” Russell said. This was the only way she was going to make her dreams a reality.

Knowing she was going to make the big move after graduation, she began making preparations to ensure her success. She began to reach out to professionals in the industry and used her connections from previous experiences to get her foot in the door. Russell’s hard work began to pay off as she landed a summer internship as an editorial intern at The Muse, an online publication that gives advice on finding a career and guidance to succeed.

After graduating in May 2015, Russell packed up her things from her apartment in Wilmington, said goodbye to her family in Charlotte and by June 1st she took her first step onto New York soil. Russell had found student living housing on the upper east side of Manhattan and although she was prepared to be in New York long term.” I just knew I had to follow where my career was taking me. “ Russell explained.

The New York dream, however, wasn’t going to as easy as she thought.  This small-town North Carolina girl underestimated how much the move would impact her life. “In NC you jump in your car and go to the grocery store; that’s not viable here. Same goes for grocery shopping and other tasks you don’t think about until you move,” Russell said. The big city was a lot to get used to, there was so much added stress that her slowed momentum, and she only had enough money to get her through the summer,  

While working at The Muse, Russell learned a lot about what it means to be a part of a larger company. “There’s the sales team, marketing, profiles, social... it all comes together to make this one company with multiple products,” she explained. As The Muse began to grow, Russell watched the company hire on many new employees. She hoped by the end of summer, she would be able to join them full time.

As the end of summer approached rapidly, so did The Muse’s hiring spree. Russell was told that although they would have loved for her to work there, they weren’t looking for anyone in the editorial department. Russell was filled with disappointment and stress. This meant she not only had to keep looking for a job but when she found a new job she’d have to learn how an entire different company ran, when she was just beginning to get used to The Muse. Russell’s search for a full time job was still in full force.

Russell had applied to several publications and hadn’t heard back from anywhere. It wasn’t until September when she finally heard some good news. A lot of good news. She had received four job offers in a matter of a week. “That sounds amazing and I was extremely grateful,” Russell explained, “but it was the first time I had to think through about my future and benefits, salary, taxes, and where I saw myself, which is scary.”

One of the offers was from DailyWorth, which Russell was an avid reader of.  “I read DailyWorth pretty frequently for practical financial advice and was always drawn to the fact that the company is geared towards women,” she explained. She didn’t want just any old company; Russell wanted a company that shared the same values, a company where she could grow.

Russell knew where she had to be. She is now an associate producer at the DailyWorth and couldn’t be happier. After months of ups and downs she finally accomplished her dream: becoming a full-time New Yorker.