We sat down with Danielle Smith, a Texas native currently based in New York City, who works at Havas, a global advertising agency. She spoke with us about her love for journalism, the importance of establishing genuine connections, and how her career journey, from working at Bloomberg LP to co-creating a podcast, has taught her about the power of exercising one’s voice.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Texas, in a suburb just north of Dallas. I loved growing up there, but I definitely wanted to see more of the world. In college, I studied abroad in Seville, Spain, and shortly after I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. Then I moved to New York City after receiving an internship with Bloomberg News. When I accepted the offer, I had never been to NYC, so I truly came in blind to all this crazy city has to offer.
What did you study while at UT Austin?
I entered college knowing that I wanted to study journalism. I also fell in love with Spanish language, so I minored in that as well as business. When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress, but as I grew older I wanted to major in something I felt more secure in which is how I fell into journalism. The way I saw it, I could combine my desire to be on camera with my love of storytelling. Journalism is a very dynamic and challenging industry, and it is an interesting time to be in the trenches of an industry that is changing so rapidly.
You mentioned that you moved to NYC after graduating from UT Austin. Tell us a little about your work experience in the field of journalism as a recent college graduate.
I participated in a 12-week internship program at Bloomberg LP in the fall of 2017. After that, I was offered a full time job as a production assistant with Bloomberg Television. At Bloomberg, I learned life skills and emotional intelligence more than anything. Things like how to bring up your ideas so that they will be heard and received well, how to execute projects and use my resources, and of course, my writing improved in both speed and quality. I had to get really good at extracting the most relevant and important information for a specific reader so that I could produce an intelligent article in under an hour. I learned to write with confidence, clarity, and brevity.
What challenges did you face while at Bloomberg?
The level of pressure I faced combined with the expectations and caliber of professionals at Bloomberg was a steep learning curve—not to mention learning how to use the terminology and understand finance. It was challenging to learn and apply what working hard and working smart looks like while my personal life and health was in the throws of the classic post-grad challenges. I was also in a new city, trying to make new friends, living in a tiny apartment with a roommate I barely knew, and struggling not get lost on the subway. It was hard. Working at Bloomberg TV was a great opportunity to explore production and work in television at a global level and in a newsroom that had full capabilities to produce quality stories. On top of that, throughout my time at Bloomberg and before I ended up working at Havas, I co-founded a podcast and worked on the marketing team for Kin Euphorics.
Tell us a little about your podcast, Notably Wild, your work at Kin Euphorics, and how both experiences helped shift your career into marketing and advertising.
I co-created a podcast called Notably Wild while I was working at Bloomberg but also continued to work on the podcast after I left. Notably Wild aimed to feature local change-makers, entrepreneurs, social justice warriors, policy leaders, and creatives. I founded the podcast with a woman I met through Instagram. She became a close friend and taught me a lot about podcasting, activism, and myself. It was an 8-month journey where I was able to meet inspiring individuals, understand podcast production better, and learn what it means to market yourself and a brand.
I also worked at Kin Euphorics, a euphoric beverage company, as an Assistant Events Manager. A euphoric beverage is one that has adaptogens, nootropics, and botanicals that bring your body to a bliss-like state and help to balance out levels of cortisol and dopamine. Working on the street team, I was in charge of brand marketing, primarily educating customers and new clients about Kin and getting them comfortable with and excited about drinking it. It was also really fun to be a bartender for a second. It’s one of those jobs I always wanted to experience, so that was cool.
Where are you currently working?
When I left Bloomberg at the end of 2018, I freelanced for a few months and worked part time at a startup. In April, I began working on the global communications team for Havas, which is a global advertising agency. My team is comprised of a small group of people with the energy of a startup, but the resources and support of a large agency. I have a lot of autonomy over my role, which I really enjoy. It’s great to have the ability to develop my own ideas and work hard to bring them to fruition.
What is one valuable lesson you have learned throughout all the places you’ve worked at?
I’ve found that it is incredibly important and valuable to surround myself with great mentors. I’ve learned that pitching an idea and trying to get others on board involves a lot of effort and a ton of work on the front-end. I’ve learned a lot about doing research, managing my time, and coming up with the value-add and reasons why someone should invest in something, plus I’ve learned how to present effectively because time and attention are limited resources.
What are your hobbies/interests?
I’ve played soccer all my life and am now on co-ed adult soccer team in NYC. I also love to rock climb, hike, bike, and anything active where I can be outdoors. I also like to volunteer for organizations with a mission that I believe in and want to support.
What makes you feel powerful and confident?
What makes me feel powerful is feeling like my voice is valuable. That means feeling heard and feeling seen. I think that one of the best ways to achieve this is to practice doing it to others. When I make an effort to listen to others, and I mean really listen, then I know what it’s like when I am being heard and seen. Then I can better understand how to support others, where to invest my time, and when to say yes or no to opportunities. Having a sense of community and engaging with others, building relationships, and impacting people in a positive way is the best feeling and makes me feel powerful and confident.
Do you have a favorite product or a special practice that makes you feel empowered?
I don’t do this every morning, but one practice that makes me feel empowered is writing an intention for the day in my journal. I try to write a few sentences about what I’m feeling or thinking and what I want for the day. I try to set an intention or a mantra and remind myself of that throughout the day. It’s not really a meditation, but it is something that helps me feel grounded, thinking about where I’m at mentally and physically and what I want. The days I do it, I see a difference in my mood and the way I interact with others. I feel more centered and that translates to me feeling more empowered to be my best self.