Interview with Wayne State Graduate, Asia Willis

Interview was conducted by Vice President of Member Services, Lauren Dissmore.

What you do and how has your career changed and progressed since you graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in Journalism.

I wear many hats. I’m a freelance blogger, the founder and editor-in-chief of The NYLA Report, which is my very own fashion blog. In addition, I work for a boutique Public Relations agency in Royal Oak, as well as freelance PR work on the side. I provide media relations, writing and research support to clients I represent. Upon graduation, I was a bit apprehensive about the dwindling journalism industry. I was concerned with job security and I had no idea what I was going to do with my degree, but I remembered taking journalism classes with fellow PR students. According to journalism students, like myself, PR was this unsolved mystery. Is it advertising, marketing or promotions? No one knew what it was. So, I took a PR class as an elective and did my first PR internship with Marx Layne & Company and the rest is history.

What do you enjoy most about your career?

I love the flexibility and variation. It’s never a dull day. I was always torn between PR and the entertainment industry, and decided to do both. I love PR and I’m obsessed with fashion and pop culture. One day, I hope to combine the two to become an entertainment or fashion publicist. When that day comes, it will be epic and everyone should run and take cover.

How do you keep a work/life balance while juggling all the parts of your career?

It’s definitely a thin line between work and life and that line is often blurred. It’s very difficult and I’m struggling with this right now. Being an avid freelancer, so many opportunities are thrown at me – literally, but sometimes I forget I’m only one person and I can’t do everything. The trick is to make the choices yourself instead of letting them happen to you. Remember to set priorities and don’t let “no” become a forbidden word in your vocabulary.

Tell our members about your blog, The NYLA Report, and what the inspiration was to create it, what sorts of work it entails, and anything else that is fun for you about it.

The NYLA Report is a fashion and pop culture blog. Everything from the color scheme, to the witty writing style—I wanted my personality to illuminate the screen.  I started off as a freelance writer and slowly dabbled into blogging. Initially, I had no expectations for NYLA, but hits were steadily climbing. Within one year, I went from 50 to an average of 8,000 hits per day, even garnering national attention from MTV, Elle.com and other national fashion blogs. I covered New York Fashion Week and landed several celebrity interviews including Russell Simmons and Tim Gunn. Everything happened so fast, I didn’t have time to take it in. Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I made in my life. NYLA has opened so many doors for me. I had the opportunity to freelance for Us Weekly and write Tyra Banks’ new fashion and beauty website called TypeF.com.

What is the best piece of advice you can give a member, some with little professional experience, as they prepare to launch their careers?

PR is incredibly competitive, but there’s enough room for everyone. First of all, network as much as you can. This will build your confidence to articulate your thoughts. Plus, you’re only as strong as your immediate PR/media circle. Secondly, make the most of your internships and be willing to do grunt work or the not-so-sexy jobs. By doing so, you’re building a great portfolio during the process and learning necessary skills to further advance yourself. Even if youdon’t land a full-time gig after your internship, it’s not the end of the world. Stay in contact with former colleagues/supervisors and when a position is available, you’ll be first on their list. And lastly, don’t burn any bridges. The PR world issmaller than you think and you never know when you will cross paths with members of the media and other PR agencies down the road.

Connect with Asia Willis on Twitter

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