10 Career Lessons From Award Winning Journalist Danyel Smith

Author and award winning journalist Danyel Smith shares her sage career tips during Her Agenda's Content, Creativity, and Career with Danyel Smith.

Last Thursday evening Her Agenda and AlleyNYC hosted Content, Creativity, and Career with Danyel Smith.

As a testament to Danyel’s work and longevity in journalism, the room was filled with eager attendees, including myself, who were ready to hear Danyel give some insight into her successful career and share some advice.

The conversation started with Danyel touching on her Oakland, CA upbringing and how the freedom she had as a child gave her the boldness she carried into her adulthood and career. In addition, she shared the one thing she would tell her younger self: “Don’t be so sensitive.” A lesson she first learned when an attempt at interviewing Stanley “MC Hammer” Burrell didn’t go as planned.

Danyel has come a long way from trying to nab freelance gigs on the west coast. From being an Editor at Billboard, Time Inc, and VIBE. Danyel has written for several publications including Elle, Essence, Rolling Stone, and presently ESPN The Magazine. She has two books under her belt and is working on a third. Danyel recently completed a Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University and is currently teaching at Syracuse University.

After all these accomplishments, Danyel still finds ways to shape the journalism industry and push herself in different ways. One way being collaborating with her husband Elliott Wilson on the rapidly approaching release of HRDCVR, “A hardcover culture magazine created by diverse teams for a diverse world.”

During last week’s event, Danyel offered many words of wisdom. All of which she learned throughout her career and still adheres to. Here are 10 career lessons from Danyel Smith:

1. Use social media to connect with people and to promote your work.

2. Do your research. This is especially important for writers, as research will make your story that much more interesting. Doing research helps you write with confidence.

3. Surround yourself with and try to work with people who are committed to the same things you are.

4. Keep good relationships. The people you meet early in your career, you will continue to see them on your way up.

5. Be bold, direct, and give eye contact.

6. Always let people know who you are and what your intent and purpose is.

7. There is usually never a safe place for women, especially women of color in male-dominated industries, so we have to create a safe place for ourselves.

8. Be aware of your self-care. Take necessary breaks to preserve yourself.

9. When it comes to taking the risk of switching careers: Make sure you have at least three months’ worth of paychecks in your bank account (then take the risk), make sure the risk is calculated and strategic (plan ahead), and then do it! Because time does not come back around.

10. Once you decide you’re going to do something, learn everything about it and put in the work.

For more gems and inspo, follow Danyel on Instagram or Twitter at @danamo.