What happens when you put the national co-chairs of the Women's March, Gretchen Carlson, two accomplished actresses, and the founders of Muslimgirl.com and Popsugar.com in the same room as ambitious young women? Extreme female empowerment and inspiration, that's what, and that's exactly how my weekend at Her Conference in New York City went down.
"Her Conference" is put together by Her Campus, an online magazine for college women. The weekend was full of keynote speakers and workshops that were designed to educate and empower the attendees, and the attendees themselves were open to meeting new friends and supporting one another. This was my first "Her Conference," and I can say with confidence that it definitely won't be my last. It was truly a life-changing two days.
Her Campus as an organization is dedicated to lifting up young women by educating them and providing the necessary information they need to succeed in their next step in life. Her Conference was specifically designed to help women looking for careers in the media, from journalism to broadcast to public relations and more. I walked into this experience feeling nervous and intimidated; I was worried that I wouldn't be as put together as the other attendees, with college experience and set goals, but quickly I was proven wrong. I knew I was in a room with strong women just like me.
The weekend began with a keynote session from two of the four co-chairs of the Women's March, which left me with goosebumps, followed by two smaller workshops of my choice. These workshops gave me an inside look at careers in media by real-life women who were working in it. After a wonderful lunch catered by Shake Shack, we got to listen to Lisa Sugar, the founder of PopSugar. She spoke about her positive outlook on life and how she made her passion into her career. I went to an afternoon workshop about being a financial grown up because they still don't teach that in school and then rounded off the day with a keynote session from Troian Bellisario.
As I hauled all of my free goodies back to my hotel, I felt empowered. Her Campus was giving me the resources I needed to enter the media field and feel supported, not only by the wonderful women who came to speak but by the attendees I was sitting next to. As an ambitious girl, I sometimes feel alone. People will tell me that they support me, but do they really understand? Her Conference put together ambitious women who will not tear you down, but build you up.
The next day was as action-packed as the one before. The morning kicked off with an emotional session with Gretchen Carlson regarding sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. After two workshops regarding climbing up the ladder in media and freelancing, we heard from Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the founder of Muslimgirl.com. For me, the most important moment of the weekend was that afternoon. I got to spend an hour listening to the woman that inspired me to go into journalism, Ann Shoket.
Ann was the editor-in-chief of "Seventeen" for the better part of a decade, and during my time as a reader, she was the one putting the magazine together. I listened to her talk about her new book, "The Big Life," and her experience in the field. Afterward, I got a picture and we had a nice conversation. I realized something, too. All of these women that I idolized were normal people. They didn't go to extraordinary lengths to get where they were, and they didn't tear anyone else down to get there. They worked hard and never quit.
Aja Naomi King gave the final keynote of the weekend, and then it was over. I left New York with renewed energy and vigor for my future career. I can't thank Her Campus enough for organizing such an empowering weekend and encouraging me to be the best I can be. Thank you for teaching me that now really is the new later.