2020Shift’s More Than Code series highlights technology and digital media professionals that are rising in ranks in the space…but not necessarily hacking or coding away on the daily. These techies are excelling in today’s top hybrid, or “non-technical,” roles.
Darian Symoné Harvin is determined. At 25 years old, the Emerson College alumna not only works as News Editor and Curator for theYahoo News Digest App, but also reinforces her digital prowess through her finely crafted podcast, "Am I Allowed to Like Anything?"
"Am I Allowed to Like Anything?" offers a hilarious take on pop and creative culture alongside the inspirational input of young professional guests. Concurrently, Harvin serves as Managing Producer for HRDCVR, works on editorial production for Tue/Night, among other ventures.
We caught up with the young mogul and it is clear that Harvin has big dreams and the work ethic to achieve them.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up at like 3:45 or 4am, Tuesday to Saturday, because I’m on the morning team for the [Yahoo Digest] App. I get up that early, start working from home, and I eventually go into the office. I’m really only there until 12.
After I get off of work, and I eat my lunch, I could be doing anything. I could be going to a coffee shop to do work, I could be working on my podcast - it’s more about my work.
How did you start working at Yahoo?
I actually started working at Yahoo through a connection, a position announcement opening that I had heard about through a Slack group called The Agenda, Her Agenda. It’s basically filled with young millennial women. The point of the group is to kind of break down some of the walls of accessibility, to really use all of the resources that we have, and all of the job positions that we hear about, and all the inspiration that we receive.
So basically I heard about that job position opening through someone who posted it on the group. They knew somebody on the Yahoo team was looking to fill the position, so I reached out to the manager of the team, and I said, “Hey my name is Darian, I have experience working odd hours in news, I’m really into news curation. It’s something I really like to do, and I’m looking to get more into the digital and mobile space, I would love to be suggested for this opportunity.”
I kept it really short, attached my resume. And she got back to me a week later, I went through a series of interviews, and that’s how I got my job.
Would you say it’s about taking risks, making sure to put yourself out there?
Yeah, I would say it’s that. But for me, I felt like it was more about strategy, how I approached the situation. I didn’t do anything lengthy or extra, I just gave her the gist. I worked here and here - if you have names of places that you’ve worked before, don’t be afraid to put those in like the second or third sentence. Those names, brands, affiliates, call numbers are names that ring a bell to people. I felt like it was that [strategy] and being very flexible, showing that I could communicate through email, and [am] easy to work with.
How do you balance your full-time position at Yahoo with other ventures?
Once I decided that one day I really wanted to work for myself, I wanted to put out my own content, I really wanted to create a space for myself to experiment on the Internet, it was all about putting that into momentum. I knew that I would want to remain consistent, and I knew that I would always make my side projects a priority. It was more about setting up really tiny goals and deadlines to help me get to the point where I started something, so that I could continue to do it.
So now, when I say, I don’t have a choice, I don’t mean that in a negative way, I mean that these are things that I love and I’m passionate about, and I really want to see them grow. I love working at Yahoo, I really like the team that I work with. And that is also something I feel helps my skill, as a news curator and editor, but this is another outlet that really has to do with what I can contribute as a journalist and an individual. And I think that is the most valuable thing that I could ever do for myself.
In what ways does Yahoo challenge you?
Well, Yahoo challenges me because the news cycle is always different. I’ve learned a lot about the news cycle. It’s really interesting to see what people write when there’s breaking news, and it’s really interesting to see what people write about when it’s not that way. A lot of my job is figuring out what people absolutely need to know in maybe a day or week where there just isn’t a breaking news story every single day. It’s helped me to continue to develop my own judgment based off of the principals in journalism that I believe are most important and really want to uphold, [that] has to do with serving people.
And I would say it also challenges me as a curator because I am taking things that other reporters have written and summarizing them, so that they are more digestible for an everyday person.
Do you feel like you’ve had to be more mindful, especially with current social justice issues going on? Do you feel like you’re more conscious of the way you report?
Yeah definitely, in particular when it comes to headlines, I’m very mindful and conscious, I’m mindful of how other people do it and I’m mindful about how I believe it should run. Especially now when I identify so much now with the people I’m reporting on.
I think it’s about balancing facts and finding nuanced ways to get people to understand what is happening. That brings up a lot of questions within objectivity and fact and emotion and bias. I was listening to the podcast "Another Round," and one of the guests was New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones and I thought she brought up a really excellent point about objectivity. Because when we’re talking about objectivity and you’re a person of color reporting on a person of color, there is more pressure on you to tell an objective story.
But really what has been objectivity for so long has been one type of person’s experience, a white experience. And I feel like that’s why there’s this line of nuance that's often missing. Just because I’m brown and I’m reporting on other brown people, doesn’t mean I don’t know how to tell an objective story. But I will tell you one that is nuanced because I still can relate to that story in some way.
What’s been the best part of working on your podcast or with Yahoo, and all of your other ventures?
I think it’s just learning new things, it sounds so cliché. But especially when you’re young, you get stuck in jobs where you’re doing the same things everyday, or it might not be a position that you 100% love. What I like about both areas is that I am bulking up my knowledge everyday. I’m constantly thinking about how I want to tell a story, and thinking about how it's going to be viewed and consumed by users. Not every story is the same.
What I like about my podcast is [it] really just gives me a chance to practice my interview skills. I love to interview people; it’s something that I want to continue to do for my career.
How do you serve as a leader?
That’s a really good question because even though I don’t have a leadership position, and I’m typically the one working under someone, I still think that there are ways that you can lead and influence that just have to do with voicing your opinion. When you start to work, you’re not always encouraged to speak up and learn how to really state your opinion in clear, respectful ways. That is always something I was encouraged to do at HRDCVR. I serve as a leader by letting people know what I think, if I’m asked or if I’m not asked. Just really understanding how I contribute is key in being a leader. Understanding the role that you play and how that affects others, and hopefully can affect them in a positive way.
What has been your biggest career lesson to date?
My biggest career lesson to date is even when you’re young, don’t settle. If I would have settled, I would have still had some TV network job, doing something that wasn’t my original dream. I don’t think that you should be picky but I don’t think it’s ever a bad thing to remember why you’re here.
What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Enjoy being 21 because no one cares once you're 22. Besides have fun.
If you’re 21 and you’re a junior or a senior in college, when this article comes out, you do not need to be looking for a job right now hardcore! It’s okay for you not to be doing that. Maybe start putting out real feelers beginning of March. But for now, try to focus on getting out of school and graduating.