GirlBoss | Gia Peppers Shares The Biggest Career Mistakes She Made In Her 20s
From choosing love over our career goals to not negotiating, there are so many career mistakes that young women make.
When we are in our 20s, we are at a very vulnerable state in our lives. For some of us, we just finished college, are working at our first “real” jobs, and we are even starting families. Through the midst of it all, we tend to make simple mistakes as it relates to our careers.
Recently, I was able to connect with a few girlbosses in various careers and personal backgrounds. Each woman shared their biggest career mistake and what they learned from it. Whether you are a graduating college senior, just starting out on your own, or a 20-something woman that is already working, you will be able to benefit from the wisdom of each of the girlbosses below. Each woman shared her own career mistake and how they’ve managed to get in formation.
Gia Peppers (@giapeppers)
Freelance Entertainment Journalist & On Air Talent (portfolio includes the NBA, BET, ESSENCE, Hot 97 & more)
Be faithful & fearless to YOURSELF.
I’ve learned a lot in the first five years of my 20s. The top thing I want other young women to know is that an internship doesn’t guarantee a job & you should be loyal to you. In college, I interned almost every semester to make sure I knew exactly what I wanted to do in radio and/or TV. When I graduated, my resume was stacked with “experience.” I just KNEW everyone was going to be knocking at my door (or LinkedIn page) with opportunities. But, after I got all my cookout celebrations out of the way, I still had no offers and had to take a job outside of my field to start paying back loans. I hated it. I would go in the bathroom and cry.
BUT, the resources I had– like a laptop and overnight car service– motivated me to work all hours of the night to ensure I would not be there longer than one year. Every moment you have is meant to prepare you for the next one. Do your best in that moment and learn all you can. And, don’t be surprised if no one calls you RIGHT after you graduate. It takes a job to get a job. Once you get that job, be loyal to YOU. Our parents grew up in a time when you could stay at one company for 20 years and move up to make more money and gain experience within the company. Unfortunately, our generation doesn’t have that security. In many fields, companies barely pay full salaries with benefits. In fact, many of these same companies don’t offer raises until an employee threatens to leave. Have your own brand. Make yourself irreplaceable and save for rainy days. In this economic climate, you will probably have some.
There comes a point in every girl’s life where you have to decide, are you going to go for your dreams or simply think about them? Without a doubt, Gia is going for her dreams with a fiery passion. From her smile, to her genuine love for women and all things love, we can expect much from Gia in the future.
We met on a cold winter evening a few months ago at the offices of Essence Magazine. She had a tight deadline and asked if I wouldn’t mind meeting her there. Naturally, I said sure. Our conversation flowed. She is as warm in person as she appears online, a true reflection of her values and upbringing. I didn’t think it was possible to be more impressed with Gia, than I already was. She is a rare gem; a gem this generation of young women needs.
A humble go-getter spirit who has both beauty and intellect, ladies meet today’s feature, Gia Peppers.
My dad is a journalist. When I was a kid we would go for bring your daughter to work day. It was so cool to see what happens behind the scenes, people on air, people inside the studio. NPR was so innovative; to see this huge office building with Lauryn Hill coming in one day, I could envision myself there. My mother is a dentist and I just knew I couldn’t do that. I knew I wanted to write my stories, in my own way. I always had a performing arts background, and it made it easy for me to transition to being on camera. I was in college wondering how I can combine all of this and I knew I had to pick a major and decided to for this.
Before you began building your career, what was the first job ever?
Oh God! I was 15 …keep in mind I went to private school. I started working at a uniform store, the same uniform store in a strip mall that sold the school uniforms of the school I attended. I would see my friends at my job…I learned why adults hate work… But I learned my lesson I knew I wasn’t dropping out of anywhere until I got my degree. After work, I would wait for my mother to pick me up, in the Borders in the strip mall… and that’s where I fell in love with magazines and entertainment. I remembering thinking… you can really talk to celebrities all the time and get paid for it. Oh okay!
You have had several internships including the Wendy Williams Show and Live with Kelly, of all your internships what has been your favorite experience and why?
Wendy hands down! The staff at the Wendy Williams show is amazing. The staff really invested in me. One of my mentors is Yasmin Ramos; she’s an executive producer who took me under her wing. I was in school at Rutgers at the time and I would wake up to 4am to get on the 5am bus because you couldn’t be late. I never wanted to leave. They would say, “Gia leave!” But I love that place. It was my first live television experience. I would watch her during the briefing sessions. The woman who you see, is who she is. The energy was just so good. It was a family.
Branding is so important right now…I had every internship under the sun and I graduated without job. I was depressed! Like ohhh my God what is going on! No one had a job. And anyone who was working was working their job had nothing to do with their $50k degree. Branding is very important because right now people buy into the individual person. Half of the people know me when I go out to network events, they know me because of my Instagram… There is no reason you can’t start whatever it is that you want to do… There is enough out here to make your own way… Something is not connecting if you can’t make your own way.
In 2011 you took a crash course with WEEN Academy, how would you summarize that experience?
Woo child! It was such an amazing experience. It was like pledging for the entertainment industry. They worked us. They pushed us to our limits. We cried, we laughed, we failed miserably in class. By the end of the 6 week experience, we were not only different, we were better. To this day, we are such a close bunch… It was like I want to work for Diddy, however, instead of being eliminated and sent home, they were like “okay you need to fix this.” It was a priceless experience. All my sisters are all over the place doing their own thing, working at Complex, BET, etc etc. To see women who look like me and had the same ambition and drive was amazing.
What in inspired you to begin your YouTube series, #Notes2Self?
A lot of my friends were going through difficult times. After college it’s like you are a baby bird thrown off a cliff and you have to learn to fly very quickly. And if you fall you need to find the strength to keep flying. After a month of moving home after graduation, my mother took me to live with my great aunt and told me to find a job. I found a job, but I was feeling so isolated, depressed, and alone. I ended up finding my relationship with God. That’s when I started to lose fear. I began to lose negative thoughts. I allowed myself to be depressed, to cry, to be myself, to be without my friends. I became a OWNer (Super Soul Sunday). I realized the only thing that was stopping me, was me. I was like hmm, how do all my friends not know this? One day after work, I was talking to the camera and just started talking to myself and I watched it. I was like oh! I can put this out and my community responded so well. I realized I was walking in my purpose.
What was your overall experience as Senior Reporter/Video Content Director at Enstars.com?
It’s a start up, I was able to go in there and do whatever I wanted. I launched the YouTube videos and I leveraged my relationships with people in the industry. I loved being able to interview people and learn their story. One of my favorite experiences was covering the red carpet premiere for season 2 of Orange is the New Black. It was so cool to be in the same space as Rosie O’Donnell and watching the seasoned actresses giving so much love to the up and coming actresses.
One of my favorite people to follow is Angie Martinez. She knows how to talk to people. I like making people feel comfortable. One thing I learned interning at Wendy was to watch the last 5 interviews of the person and to create a research packet. I can learn what makes them laugh, what they aren’t comfortable talking about, and what questions I can slide in. It’s about making people feel comfortable.
Who would you like to interview in the future?
Beyonce, Oprah, Jay-Z. I want to interview Jay-Z, because he is so good at controlling interviews. I want to test myself and see who am I really. I want to hear him laugh and say no I am not answering that. I know I am either going to fail miserably and learn so much, or kill it and become best friends with Jay-Z, because that’s the dream! I want to interview Oprah too, because I want her to say that was the worst interview I ever sat through, or you have a gift. She’s the standard. That would mean the world to me. The chance to sit down with these people and find out what they are really about. Kevin Hart would be an amazing interview. I would love to sit down with J Cole, I respect him so much for his latest album. Kendrick too.
Real quick top 5 rappers, drop em!
Jay-Z, Biggie, Cole, Drake, Kendrick, Lupe
I would love to host a network show. A network show would be the next step for me. Eventually I want to produce quality that I love that inspires people to do what they need to do. People need daily inspiration to go after their dreams. People think that life is easy because of Instagram; people forget the time it took to get that 1 second photo. My intention is to be light. Making people laugh. I want people to feel better after they see something I have worked on.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual you do before you begin each day?
The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is I pray. Life is such a gift. We don’t have to be here. Be thankful. Be grateful. You can have the worst day, but you have life. I thank God. I lost a friend right after graduation. I remember looking at her casket at her funeral. My entire life changed when she died. It’s when I realized I have to appreciate people while they are here. Till this day, I don’t leave a conversation without telling people I love them. I never got to tell her that I loved her and I missed her. I carry that with me till this day. So I need to begin my day with prayer, because I really am thankful and grateful for life, because you just don’t know.
Favorite book or quote of all time?
The Alchemist. Let me look it up (grabs her phone) “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
It just gives you hope. Some days you don’t wake up feeling your best. But we all need hope. If a quote I upload to Instagram connects with at least 1 person, I did something. I just want people to be better. I realize this is not about me. This is about me pushing people towards being a better version of themselves. There is so much negativity, I don’t need to contribute to that. There is nothing there for me. If I am not making your life better, I don’t need to be in your life. I just want this generation to be better.
Gia and I finished up realizing we shared the same love for Mary Mary’s song, “Go Get it.” I entered the interview admiring her persona; I left the interview respecting her as not only a professional, but as a woman. There is just something about women empowering other women that makes me smile. Some people just have that thing that makes them special, Gia not only has it, I can guarantee she won’t let her specialness go in vain.