Highlights from a Week at Newhouse NYC
The Spring NYC semester is (sadly) starting to wrap up, but that doesn’t mean we have slowed down our awesome stream of speakers and trips. On Tuesday, April 5, the Social Media class got a visit from Andrea Lavinthal, PEOPLE’s style and beauty director. She is well known for her live tweeting of The Bachelor, and told us all about tweeting professionally and her career path. On Wednesday, April 6, the Race, Gender, and Media class went to the Spotify offices for a tour and panel with three of their staffers. In typical tech company form, there were no cubicles and tons of snacks. Here are some of the other highlights:
Tuesday: Visit from Andrea Lavinthal
When Andrea Lavinthal first found out that beauty and editing could be an actual career path she knew it was all she wanted to do. She got her start in the beauty world right after graduating from Newhouse by volunteering to be an intern in the Cosmo beauty closet after the job she actually wanted got eliminated. She made herself invaluable there, and eventually got promoted to beauty assistant. “School is great, but you don’t learn a lot of stuff until you are actually in a job,” she said. She has been amassing skills since, becoming Cosmo’s first digital beauty editor, and US Weekly’s very first style and beauty director along the way. She was also one of the first people to jump on Twitter as an extension of her job when she started live tweeting The Bachelor for US Weekly. “Everyone has a platform they gravitate to, on Twitter you can have a conversation and be authentic,” she said. She also said that early on she learned the pressure and responsibility that comes with tweeting for a brand.
In her current role at PEOPLE, Lavinthal and her eleven person team handle all of the style and beauty content for print, web and social media. “My job now is a lot of going to meetings about strategy,” she said. Social media plays a large role in all of it. A lot of the PEOPLE’s style and beauty content is generated by celebrity’s activities on their own social platforms. The celebs are also becoming big competitors for magazines because they are breaking their own news on social instead of having magazines do it for them. Lavinthal also said that because of social, she never really leaves work anymore. “Kylie Jenner opens her snapchat and we write a post,” she (jokingly) said.
With its video game room, rooftop deck complete with lounge chairs, and workout room, the Spotify NYC offices look more like someones fantasy apartment than an office. Our tour guide was Tuma Basa, the head of hip hip global programming. He showed us the ins and outs of the office, and even let us peek into the “secret” room Spotify uses for brain storm sessions. The door is hidden on a fake wall, and is apparently a well kept secret; another employee who joined us on the tour said she found out about its existence only a few days ago!
Before we sat down for our panel, Basa was lovely enough to let us indulge in the free snack cabinets, which was of course much appreciated by all. Angie Romano who works on Latin programing and Doug Ford, the global head of curation joined us to offer advice and answer questions. All three had slightly different backgrounds, but agreed that persistence and strategy were some the best ways to land your dream career. Case in point, Basa said that when he was at the University of Iowa he made literally 800 calls looking for an internship and, made sure to keep rejection letters. Romano always knew that she wanted to work at Vibe magazine and said, “You can dream all you want, but you need a strategy to get there.” We were all curious about what exactly a music curator does, and it was fascinating to learn how much care and thought goes into the lists we all rock out to. “You take a hypothesis around the type of music and make the playlist based off of that,” said Ford. He also emphasized the importance of spending time just watching, listening and absorbing everything and applying that to the job.