I’m talking briefly to Rachel Scott, who made it to the White House at 19, worked at CNN, ATVN, HuffPost and somewhere in between found time to give back through her newsletter for young women and her time spent volunteering in Thailand amongst many other equally incredible things.
I think the question everyone is asking is ‘How?’ How have you achieved at such a young age?
I am always taken back when anyone asks that because I feel like I have such a long way to go. God has continuously blessed me along my journey with amazing opportunities, mentors and a support system. I still have a long way to go before I accomplish my goals but I am enjoying the journey and working very hard to get there.
Have you always wanted to take this path? Have you always wanted to become a journalist?
For the first two years of high school, I actually wanted to be a doctor. I laugh at that thought now, because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It wasn’t until I started hosting my high school’s rallies, homecoming halftime shows and events that I started considering becoming a journalist. I wanted to get some type of experience to see if I really liked it. As a college freshman, I applied to a junior level internship at a local television station, KTLA. I was too young for the job and way too under qualified but, somehow I landed the position. That experience on my resume was invaluable.
Shortly after, I received a four year paid fellowship with CBS News through the Emma Bowen Foundation which later turned into a job. Looking back, I am so grateful to those who took a chance on me. I had little experience but I always promised that I would work harder than anyone else. Landing internships and fellowships so early into college has continued to make all the difference. I’m so thankful someone saw potential in me and hope one day I can provide an opportunity like that for someone else.
What would you say is an essential ingredient for success?
I think essential ingredient for success is actually the opposite to success. Failure is key to success. Some of the biggest blessings in my life have come on the heels of failure. Failure is there to point you in a new direction – a better direction. If you’re focused on gaining experience, a new perspective and knowledge, failure is not a possibility.
How did you get to intern at White House? I imagine it was very challenging.
The nearly five months I spent as an intern in the White House Office of Communications were the best of my life. It was always a dream of mine to visit, but to be selected as a White House intern at only 19 years old and to witness the 2012 historical election from a rare perspective was certainly a dream come true. I found the application online and applied on the whim without expecting any results. Little did I know, that small decision to send in an application would change my life. When I received a call for an interview and later an offer for the position, I was in shock to say the least. The White House internship program is competitive but not impossible. I would encourage anyone who’s interested to apply. Don’t let fear keep you from pursuing any opportunity.
Were you confident that you would achieve what you now have?
I think it’s so easy to get focused on the end goal, that we forget how much we have been blessed with so far. I still have a long list of things I’d love to accomplish but I’m so thankful for the opportunities I have been given thus far.
Who gave you the most professional and moral support?
I have great mentors in the business but I would say a large amount of professional and moral support has come from my peers who are also in the business. I graduated from the journalism program at the University of Southern California. Along the way, I met some of the most hard working and innovative students who have become great friends and peer mentors. They are always there to give honest feedback and listen.
What is a common myth people believe about working in television? And the reality?
I think a lot of people think television is very glamorous. In many aspects it is, but journalists, producers and writers work extremely long hours especially when there is breaking news.
What is the biggest challenge in your job?
I would say one of the larger challenges with being a young professional is time management. In addition to being a producer at ABC News, I am also the founder of Hello Gems, an empowerment newsletter for young women and girls. Being a young woman isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to navigating personal and professional life. My newsletter provides aggregated content for women with quotes, articles, and videos to keep them inspired and motivated. To keep up with both jobs, I have to be extremely organised and manage my time well. I wake up early, even if I work late. I set daily and weekly goals for myself and schedule time in my calendar to achieve them. It isn’t always easy but it’s worth it. I love what I do and I’m very happy and blessed to have both opportunities in front of me.
What was the biggest challenge while trying to get to where you now are professionally?
I think like many young adults, I always try to focus on the end goal which is great – but I can often forget how important the journey is. No one starts with their dream job. Success is not a straight and narrow path even if it looks that way on social media. Remembering that it’s okay to fail and it’s important to stumble. Every set back is a set up for something else. Trusting that notion has helped make a difference in my life.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
The world of news is changing so much. We can access anything we want at our fingertips. It’s really exciting to be in the industry during this time. I’d love to be at the forefront of digital news, finding innovative ways to do in-depth storytelling.
Your volunteering in Thailand must have been a whole new experience. Can you tell me about that?
Two years ago, I gave my Christmas and New Years break to help those in need. We partnered with an organisation called Travel to Teach, and together we headed to two different schools in Chang Mai. We had the opportunity to work with primary school children from poor backgrounds, who didn’t have much. Most of the students were Burma refugees or children of Burma refugees and travelled more than an hour on bicycle to get to school. For nearly all of them, we were the first Westerners they had ever seen. Perspective was perhaps one the greatest gifts I received from that trip. I can go on and on about things they didn’t have but what was even more remarkable, is what they did have. They were full of life.They were respectful of each other and fearless. They cared less about material possessions and more about human interaction. As we left, I couldn’t help but feel so incredibly thankful for how they helped me and how much they pushed me to be a better individual. It was truly a remarkable experience.
Would you like to find out more about Rachel Scott or to get in touch with her, check out her LinkedIn profile and stay connected for our collaboration on Internships;subscribers only.
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