From GSU Film & Video Major to Renowned Tech Blogger
By Malinda Inthirath
In 2007, the shift from print media to digital was coming and Christina Warren was ready for it. In college, she wrote for an online magazine as opposed to a physical newspaper. During the rise of ‘American Idol’ she became a frequent commenter on USA Today’s ‘American Idol’ blog, gaining attention from editors and leading to the start of her professional writing career. While she originally planned to be a lawyer, now Christina is the Senior Tech Correspondent at Mashable, where she writes about all aspects relating to technology.
A New Wave
Christina is a 2007 graduate of Georgia State University with degrees in Film and Video and Business Marketing. Her interests led her to believe that she would be creating screenplays or novels. She had plans to become an entertainment or technology lawyer, seeing that as a way to break into the film industry.
It took a little longer for her to get her undergraduate degree: six years to be exact. She took some time off from school for health reasons, dealing with depression and anxiety.
“I think it’s good for people to know it’s okay if s**t doesn’t go according to plan. My life didn’t go according to my plan and it worked out.”
During her last year at GSU, Christina’s comments on the ‘American Idol’ blog gained attention from USA Today. They were looking for contributors at the beginning of the 2007 season and asked her to be a weekly writer for both online and print content. Still in college, she took the job and officially kicked off her professional writing career.
The validation she received from her work gave her confidence to keep going. She started developing a popular blog and gathering a following on social media. Looking back almost nine years later, she can see that she started blogging at the perfect time.
“I kind of recognized early on that I could build a name for myself on the Internet by writing and that blogging was going to become bigger than the print world. It was early enough where people weren’t taking the digital media content revolution seriously. Brands were starting to recognize blogging as a platform, but didn’t see that it was where the future of media was headed. I picked the right time. I was lucky for that. I had a clear vision of ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to build a name for myself and I’m going to make it a full-time job’.”
When the economy tanked in 2008, she decided not to attend law school. Instead, motivated with her new vision for digital content, she continued blogging about entertainment, culture and technology.
The Digital Evolution
After two years of building a large Twitter following by blogging about technology and culture, Christina was approached by Mashable — a leading global media company focusing on the digital generation. At the time, Mashable was a platform about blogging, social media and online-how-to’s with only nine or so employees who all worked remotely. She started out as a reporter and entertainment editor. She had no idea where digital media would take her and she was terrified.
“I was definitely scared out of my mind. I thought to myself, ‘Is this ever going to turn into anything permanent? Is this ever going to be more than a stipend a month? Am I going to make a living from this? Can I make this a career?’ There were definitely a lot of doubts. I was probably young and naive enough to do it and put in the time. It was really when I started getting paid to write that I saw what I’m doing now as the end game, which meant taking crappy paid positions. It was really hard, but I had a great support system to back me up if things didn’t work out. It was a leap, but I thought ‘this is my career. I built a name for myself and I made it a full-time job’. It took me a few years to feel confident about it.”
Christina is now the Senior Tech Correspondent at Mashable, spending her days writing, talking and explaining technology to ordinary people. Mashable has grown too. It now has offices all over the world and hundreds of employees.
Some Advice for You
There’s a number of lessons from Christina’s story.
With the world changing around us so rapidly, it’s not good enough to ask yourself what trends are important now or what direction your field has been going in the last few years?
Christina was able to recognize the importance of blogging early on and the ability to nurture that trait is important. It’s important to follow the trends and watch what’s happening around you because it’s easy to get complacent. So when making career decisions or when thinking about the areas you’re passionate about, ask yourself, what’s my field going to look like five years from now?
She also has a few key pieces of advice to consider when you’re applying to your first job because figuring out what you want to do after graduation isn’t easy.
- Your major and degree do not define you.
- It’s okay to change your mind about what you want to do.
“Knowing that you went through the process and got the degree is valuable, but what you have a degree in doesn’t have to define you at all. There are so many opportunities for things to change.”
The basis of approaching your first job is figuring out where you want to be and what you want to do. Your first job might not be your dream job, but remember that it doesn’t have to define your career. The learning experience that you get will be the stepping stone to the job that you want.
Christina has been featured on CNN, NPR, Bloomberg, WSJRadio, the BBC, Fox News and Marketplace Radio. She has presented at Yale University, SXSW Interactive, the Tribeca Film Festival and more. See more from Christina through her Twitter and on Mashable.
Have questions or comments about Christina’s story? Leave them below.
Our next story is about a UGA Chemist who went on to be one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 for 2016.
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