"I hope that in 5 years I have found a more concrete way to make a difference in the lives of younger girls."
Riana Singh is an entrepreneur, photographer, digital marketer, and recent graduate of UCLA. She just came back from New York and recently joined the sales team at Headspace. This was our day running our Los Angeles in January.
Riana's Instagram: @rianasingh_
How did we first meet?
We first met through social media! I think you followed me or I followed you (not sure who found who). We connected because you applied for a position with Let’s Run It Digital, and we first met on a photoshoot for one of our clients!
We spent the day wandering around the Arts District in Los Angeles, what was your favorite part?
My favorite part was probably struggling to eat that avocado toast at Blacktop Coffee (which was soooo good), and randomly bumping into people that came up to us!
What does social media mean to you? How has it changed your life?
The meaning of social media, and specifically my social media pages, has evolved over the last four years I have used these platforms. It started as a way for me to showcase a college student’s adventures living in Los Angeles and somewhere transitioned to a sneakerhead’s obsession with Nike. I think now what it means to me as a way to meet new people, form real connections, and impact the lives of those you have never met. It has changed my life due to the opportunities it has presented me with, and the amazing people I have met along the way who are truly some of my closest friends.
As a photographer, what is your favorite thing to share? Why?
I love to share the city I am in through my lens. Whether that is through palm tree pictures, or while I was living in NYC, views of the city. It is special to me because it shows my viewers how I am experiencing the city I am in.
Who are some of your favorite profiles on Instagram?
I love travel and lifestyle photographers because it allows me to get a glimpse into the cities they live in and their daily adventures! I don’t have ones that come to my mind as my top faves, but I also love international lifestyle bloggers so that I can somewhat experience their life through images they post from their home cities.
You just graduated UCLA in 2017, can you tell us about your experiences being a student there?
I had a love hate relationship with UCLA. I loved the city, and my social experiences at UCLA, but I struggled a lot with the academia and really figuring out what major I wanted to pursue, and what I wanted to do post-grad. After I switched from an Economics major to an Asian American Studies major, I felt my eyes became opened about what interested me, and what I was passionate about. It made me enjoy my classes a lot more, and I was actually excelling at them because I was excited about what I was learning.
What did you study, and how is that the same/different than what you are doing now?
Kind of following my answer to the last question, I was an Asian American Studies major and currently I am pursuing Sales/Business Development. Over the past three years as a student at UCLA, I pursued various digital and brand marketing positions. It’s always a bit interesting when I get asked this question, because at first glance it seems as though my major and professional experiences have no relevance to one another. But, I have realized that my passion for diversity and inclusion, especially regarding minorities, is something I strive to weave into my professional work as a Marketer. My educational background allows me to see marketing, and the ways brand’s communicate to their consumers in a new light, and I hope to continue to use my knowledge to make an impact in the world of branding.
What is one advice you would give yourself around this time last year when you were in college? What advice would you give to someone who is about to graduate?
I would prioritize having a back-up plan, always. For some, it works not having a plan B, but I have learned that as much you plan things out, things can always go wrong, and you have to be ready for that. I would tell myself that finding a job is not THAT hard, there are just certain tips and tricks that you can do to make the process a lot easier. My advice for someone who is about to graduate is to really think about what you want to do, instead of just aimlessly applying to a bunch of new jobs. It will make your interview and application process a lot more efficient and rewarding.
After you graduated, you moved to New York for a some time for a job. What was it like being in a new city by yourself? How did you grow/what did you learn?
I fell in love with New York city the minute I first visited, so I was sooo excited to be able to move there right after graduation. I felt so independent and really feel that my few months there pushed me to grow as a person. I learned how to rely on myself, but also how to push myself out of my comfort zone to meet new people. It taught me the importance of trying new things and making connections along the way.
After New York, you returned to California and began job hunting. What are some of the challenges/successes you faced while job hunting? How did you overcome them?
I think my biggest challenge was figuring out what I wanted to do. I had just finished my internship at an ad agency and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to more in a PR route or a Sales route. I overcame this challenge by doing a lot of research on entry level positions in both of these industries, and seeing what the job responsibilities and qualifications were on the listings. This allowed me to get a clearer understanding of what I wanted to pursue, and how I could leverage my previous experiences to the qualifications.
Any advice to people who are looking for their dream job, but are falling short?
I would honestly say that there is no such thing as a dream job (which sounds harsh), but my reasoning may make more sense! You may think you have an idea of what your dream job is based off the reputation of Company X, the cool work the company does, or the awesome job perks. But, with every job there will be things you like to do, and things you find tedious and not so fun. People may post about how much they love their job or company, but as with social media in general, these representations are often highlight reels where individuals highlight the best parts. The most important thing is to look at every experience as a learning opportunity, where you are able to narrow down more and more the types of things you love to do, and things you aren’t the biggest fan of. Then, you will get closer to your “dream job”, in terms of the types of changes and value you can add to your team.
Your social media inspires women (especially women of color) to be their own boss. Where did that stem from?
A friend recommended me to read ‘Lean In’ and ‘Girl Boss’ in September 2016, and I honestly feel that those two books changed my perspective on female empowerment, women supporting women, and the importance of mentorship. It made me not only want to seek out these inspiring women that I looked up to, but also to become one myself. I saw how difficult it was for me to seek advice from others, and I didn’t want younger girls to struggle in the same way. My social media has serves as a place for me to share my story while connecting with others along the way who are on a similar journey.
Who are some women bosses you look up to?
There are so many! I can’t even begin to name them all. More recently, I find myself being inspired by and looking up to the the bosses around me, rather than celebrities and super successful women. The girl who reaches out to me and asks for advice, and is persistent about getting coffee. The girl who messages me and shares her story of asking for a pay raise. The college student who shares her struggles of looking for a job, and shares her enthusiasm to find her passion. THESE WOMEN INSPIRE ME!
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I am hoping to be in a Director position at a company that I feel is making a real impact in the world. I would love to start my own company, or perhaps go to business school in the next five years. No matter what I am doing, I know that mentorship and female empowerment will still be something I highly value, and I hope that in 5 years I have found a more concrete way to make a difference in the lives of younger girls.
What are some fun facts that your followers don’t know about you?
In first grade, while dancing at an indian party, I tripped over a wire from the DJ’s set up and broke 4 bones in my foot. I played the alto saxophone for 7 years! I love making up random songs/raps while I am driving in my car alone.
If you were to look back at the end of 2018, what would you have accomplished? (In other words, what does 2018 look like for you)?
I hope that when I look back I see myself happy and progressing in my professional career and at my job. I hope I connected with more friends IRL, and went to awesome events that inspired me. Most importantly, I hope I made an effort to put my physical health as a top priority, as well as to try new activities such as public speaking, wine tasting, cooking classes and more! :)
Thank you for being my women boss! It was great starting the year with someone who inspires me. One of the many qualities I admire about you, is your proactive approach to follow your heart and dreams. As cliche as it sounds, not everyone has the guts to open a business while in college or the confidence to approach a business being fully yourself. Your personality and your voice will get you very far in life. Congrats on your new job, and continuing to use your platform as a form of diversity and equality. Looking forward to all your future endeavors!