When most people think about the techies in Silicon Valley they usually imagine a young caucasian male with a closet full of grey sweatshirts and blue jeans – no, literally! There are very few black faces in Silicon Valley, and even fewer black women. Rolanda Evelyn is changing the typical Silicon Valley narrative with her awesome style and wit!
Rolanda Evelyn is an Associate Product Marketing Manager at Youtube as well as the creator of leave a little sparkle, a fashion lifestyle blog. Be sure to follow her on Instagram here for more sartorial adventures. She is also the co-founder of other cards, an inclusive greeting card line.
She shared some Career Tips with us!
Your career path is very unique, you are working with a product millennials can relate to. Almost everyone uses YouTube. What advice do you have for millennials who want to marry creativity with their 9 to 5?
I think the best advice I can give here is to follow your passions. If you know you are a creative and wish to be creative in your “9-5,” be honest with yourself about that. I think often times, especially depending on where you attend school, there are loads of other pressures steering students into certain career paths or specific companies. I remember always having this internal dialogue with myself about what it is that I want to do and what I think would make me happy. Surely, at the end of the day, everyone has different factors to consider when choosing a full time position. And in truth, I got lucky to be assigned YouTube for my first rotation as I think it’s the perfect marriage of creativity, expression, and representation-things that I value so deeply which I think comes across in both my blog and the card line.
“I think the best advice I can give here is to follow your passions. If you know you are a creative and also wish to be creative in your “9-5,” be honest with yourself about that. I think often times, especially depending on where you attend school, there are loads of other pressures steering students into certain career paths or specific companies”
Were you always interested in working in the tech space? How was your transition from college to the workspace?
I had no idea I would end up in tech-at least not initially! In fact, as a student at Penn my plan was to work in retail after graduation. I wanted to be a buyer at Bloomingdale’s living in New York and then around junior year, after the opportunity to shadow buyers, I realized that it wasn’t the right fit. I wanted a more creative role. I was lucky enough to come across the opportunities at Google in the interim and so started my journey into tech as an intern in product PR my sophomore summer and then returned as an intern in the marketing rotational program my junior summer. I was lucky enough to return full time as an Associate Product Marketing Manager.
I won’t lie- the transition from undergrad life to #adulting was hard. Everything is just so different, and then on top of that I also chose to also move across the country at the same time. I actually talked a lot about this in my “heart to heart” blog post. But even reading that post now, is a good reminder of how far I’ve come and how much can change over time.
You have a very eccentric sense of style, and it is amazing! How do you balance your Fashion blog, leave a little sparkle with your marketing job at Google? Do you find yourself utilizing your skills in both aspects?
It’s definitely a challenge to balance work with the blog (and now other cards as well)-it’s all a balancing act. I walk around with my Erin Condren planner everywhere. Outside of work, it tells me where I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to do, and who I’m supposed to do it with. And then you just have to prioritize a lot. I have to be honest with myself about what things I need to get done and what things can wait.
As for your second question- Yes, there is loads of overlap with the skills I learn at work with both my blog and other cards. On the blogging front, I have learned what businesses look for and value when working with influencers, as I did that in my previous role with YouTube creators. On the card business, everything I’ve learned at Google from branding, to social media marketing has been invaluable.
Who is our Career Crush? What does Mentorship mean to you?
It’s funny that you ask this because I just consulted with my roommates on where they seek inspiration. And I think I need to a better job about actively learning about other women’s paths and the obstacles they overcame to get to where they are now. But to name a few, my love for media and entertainment means I’ve always been in awe of Oprah Winfrey (of course) and more recently Elaine Welteroth who I had the pleasure of meeting AND doing a boomerang with at the Teen Vogue Summit (which appeared on the Teen Vogue Instagram Story) [eeep!]
What does being an executive woman of color mean to you?
I’ve only been in the the corporate world for about 1 ½ years, so I’m still learning what it means to just be a woman of color in that space. And, as I’m sure many of my fellow sisters are also learning or already know-it’s hard. You not only have to perform well in your main role, but there is also seemingly an additional tax that you also have to pay when it comes to navigating a predominantly white space that doesn’t get taken into account anywhere. So, perhaps most prominently, this experience has opened my eyes to the true feat that it is for a woman of color to ascend to an executive level.
What advice do you have for Women of Color from Non – Tech backgrounds who want to pursue a career in tech?
- Read. Read. Read- If you’re not in tech (or any industry for that matter), it can be hard to stay abreast at what’s happening in the field. And if you have a dream company (or product), set Google Alerts. You’re going to want to know what they’re thinking, what products they’re launching, what the press is saying about them….the whole 9 yards.
- Apply!- I think a lot of people who I’ve talked to along the way psych themselves out over a label when in fact so many of the skills they have and projects they work on are transferable even if it isn’t in “tech.”