Elana Gross is a petite and energetic bundle of smiles. Born and raised in NYC she lacks the New Yorker pessimism and harshness that often accompanies someone who has spent their life in the urban jungle. In fact, she’s quite the opposite. Elana is the ultimate cheerleader to her peers and never before have I met someone so quietly influential. Through her cunning writing and informative posts on her blog, Elana Lyn, she has become the authority for college and newly graduated women. Elana inspires her readers to challenge themselves by offering articles on career growth, recommendations on how to live a healthier life and inspirational profiles on women in their careers.
Elana has been a friend, mentor and advocate of Six Degrees Society since day one! She has been loyal at spreading the word and helping grow our tight knit little community. When she isn’t curating content on her blog you can find Elana working a full-time job, trying out new work out classes or hanging in Central Park.
1. You have done such an incredible job of inspiring others by posting career profiles, job advice and helpful tips on your blog. Can you tell us what inspired you to start Elana Lyn?
After graduating, I became a paralegal at a prestigious law firm in New York City. Amidst stacks of briefs, blue books and binders, I realized how much I missed writing, creativity, and truly having ownership of a project. While I checked brief citations and compiled velo-bound documents, posts would go out filled with topics I was passionate about.
2. What's been the most interesting thing that's happened to you since you've started blogging? How has your blog evolved throughout the years?
When I started my blog, I never imagined that anyone other than my closest friends and family would read it. I certainly never imagined that my blog might help me get hired for new jobs, but that’s exactly what happened. The founder of a women’s career development startup followed my blog posts on Twitter, and after writing about her company a few times as well volunteering for them, I was invited to join their team as the social media manager. I discovered that I enjoyed writing both short form and long form content and I started writing for them and other publications. My current employer also hired me because of my blog, social media, and freelance writing portfolio. I started a blog “for fun,” but blogging introduced me to a world that I hadn’t even known existed. To my surprise, there were career paths incorporating exactly what I was doing “for fun.”
I have grown so much both personally and professionally since creating my blog. I have had new experiences, developed new interests, and learned new skills, which have consequently changed the content of my blog. My blog evolved from fashion to career advice and lifestyle. I took a hiatus when I was the fifth employee at the startup but started blogging again when I moved to an agency. I share my experiences, mistakes, and stories. Whether it’s a new recipe, preparing for my annual review, reflecting on the hiring process, a fitness review, or how to ask for a raise. My favorite series is my Career Profile series: I share the stories and career paths of women I admire. We can learn so much from like minded, successful, driven women! I think that the Internet has revolutionized mentorship – you no longer need to actually know someone in order to learn from her career path and experiences. I hope people learn something new every time they stop by Elana Lyn.
3. You recently started a new job, can you tell us about the decision to switch companies? What's your favorite part of what you do?
I wasn’t looking for a new job and was happy where I was, but I was approached by a recruiter and the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. One of my favorite quotes, “Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” I decided to trust myself, take a risk, and say yes. I’ve gotten better at saying yes to new experiences this year. It’s tempting to settle and get complacent in the comfortable, but you learn a lot from stepping out of your comfort zone. There is a great chance that you’ll be happier as a result and, even if you aren’t, you have to have the confidence that you can pick yourself up and figure it out.
My favorite thing about my new job is that I work with mostly mission-driven social good organizations that are committed to making an impact. The agency inspires millennials to co-create our world by sharing the values and organizations we believe in.
4. How have you been able to juggle both the full time job and the blog? Any tips in managing the hustle?
Managing my blog and writing freelance articles are projects that I take seriously and, while I love writing, the work itself can take up a lot of time. I have to regularly concept and pitch articles, write articles and posts, and manage brand partnerships and relationships. When you are freelancing with a full-time job you’re likely to work late nights, early mornings, and weekends. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing you’ll have a much greater likelihood of success, in part because you enjoy what you do, and in part because you are willing to put in the hours. That’s where copious amounts of coffee comes in handy!
I write almost all of my blog posts on Sundays and schedule them to go up throughout the week. I like scheduling my content ahead of time so that I can get together with friends, go to networking events, try a fun gym class, go to a museum, and work on pitches, freelance writing, and career profile questions and outreach throughout the week. I also wake up between 6:15 and 6:30 am almost every day so that I can “Wake up an hour early to live an hour more.” It can be really difficult to get into the habit of getting out of bed between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. every day but it gets easier and, in time, becomes a good habit. Due to my early morning routine, I find I am more focused, happy, and alert when I get into the office. It’s crucial to make time for the people and activities you love – otherwise the hard work isn’t worth it.
5. You've written for some incredible publications like FastCompany, TIME, Mashable, Refinery 29, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Levo, Brit + Co. and The Muse. How have you been able to secure these jobs and any tips for obtaining freelance jobs?
My best advice for freelance writers is to become a contributing writer at a few publications. Many publications have syndication partnerships so your work may get picked up by other publications. Once you have a number of clips you are proud of, start to pitch other publications.
5. As a born and bred New Yorker can you share a few of your favorite things to do in NYC? Any hidden gems we should know about?
I love NYC! There are so many exciting things to do and see if you take advantage of them. In the spring and summer, I spend a lot of time taking long walks and bike rides in Central Park. I enjoy waking up early and seeing the sunrise! I also like to try out the hundreds of boutique fitness studios in the city.
My favorite place in NYC is the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. It's absolutely beautiful and peaceful. In the winter, I like to spend hours walking through The Met or The Frick. One of the best things about NYC is that you can discover so many great restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and experiences just by going for a walk.
6. What's the best advice you've received so far? Do you have any advice you can share for aspiring bloggers or writers out there?
I look up to my older cousin and she always has great career and life advice. Recently she said you can’t fail in your 20’s because you’re still figuring it out. It’s not just your 20’s, a lot of people I interviewed in Career Profiles talked about not feeling like they have it all together yet. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe you can learn something and grow from every experience. (Even, or maybe especially, the challenging ones.) Instead of regretting or over analyzing the past, I try to view it as a learning experience and move on stronger as a result. As an instructor in a very difficult barre class said recently, "Focus on progress, not perfection."
My best advice for aspiring bloggers and writers is to be authentic and develop your own unique "voice." Let your personality shine through! The posts and articles will be more enjoyable to read and people are more likely to keep coming back because they feel like they know you. Being authentic and genuine is important in all aspects of your life. I think that you can only be happy when you are accepted for being yourself. Of course, strive to be the best possible version of yourself, but don’t try to be someone you’re not. You'll be more successful if you embrace and celebrate what makes you, you