9 Questions with Rolanda Evelyn
Associate Product Marketing Manager at YouTube, Founder of leave a little sparkle
Rolanda Evelyn is an Associate Product Marketing Manager at YouTube. Rolanda’s last couple of months have been a whirlwind as she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, moved across the country from NYC to San Francisco, and started her first full-time job. When Rolanda’s not at YouTube HQ talking all things ads marketing and YouTube creators, she’s exploring SF -probably eating brunch, but definitely taking photos and creating content for her fashion blog, leave a little a sparkle. You can follow along her food and sartorial adventures on Instagram.
- When did you know you wanted to be in tech?
The funny thing is that tech was never a part of my plan. But Google’s smart. They catch you early, and then how could you ever want to leave?
My senior year of high school, as a member of Prep for Prep, I was invited to Google Symposium, where you spend a day at the NYC office. This was 2012- before the movie The Internship, and back when I thought that only engineers worked at tech companies. As a second semester senior, I was simply attending for the free food and an excused absence.
That day opened my eyes to the opportunities available, but I still didn’t see myself working at a tech company. I was more focused on my interests in media and fashion. A year later, Google extended an invitation to that group to apply for the BOLD internship program. I wouldn’t have stumbled upon the internship opportunity otherwise, as it didn’t make its way to my communications and retail e-mail list serves.
I applied and landed an internship in product PR for the summer after my sophomore year. Needless to say, I loved it. And then the time came to decide on the direction for my junior summer internship. Since my freshman year I had wanted to be a buyer at Bloomingdale’s and live in New York. I wanted to be Rachel Green. But around this time I learned that it wasn’t for me; I wanted something more creative. So I took the plunge and applied again to the BOLD internship and landed in marketing. It wasn’t until that summer that I decided I wanted to be in tech, and I was crossing all fingers [and toes] that I’d be back at Google full time.
“The post that I’m most proud of is “our brown is beautiful.” Over the summer, after what felt like open season on black men, with the back to back fatal shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police, I decided to write about it on my blog. I never intended to make my blog a political space, but my newsfeed was filled with such hurt, despair, and violent streaming videos of these shootings caught on tape. I wanted to change that.”
2. Who’s been a role model you look up to?
Oh my god! There are so many boss women I look up to. First and foremost my strong (and fly) mom who pushes me everyday to go after what I want. My incredible friends who pursue their dreams and never settle for less. And then of course the fabulous superstars like Elaine Welteroth, the first black editor-in chief of Teen Vogue. In the last 8 months I have consumed more Teen Vogue content than I did during the 3 years I was subscribed to it in middle school. And most definitely Oprah for telling everyone’s stories, and Michelle Obama for rewriting our own.
3. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
As a new grad, still transitioning to full-time life, I haven’t quite landed on the answer to this question. But I can say this: I love that I work for a company whose values I share. I love that they continue to stand behind those core values, both internally and externally, especially given the current political climate when it matters most. And I feel very lucky to say that I feel safe at work.
“I love that I work for a company whose values I share. I love that they continue to stand behind those core values, both internally and externally, especially given the current political climate when it matters most.”
4. Describe a time you were proud of yourself.
When I publish a blog post, I really don’t know if people will read it, whether they will like it, and how they’ll respond to it. Sometimes I feel really vulnerable, as I’m sure any creator does, because you’re putting your work out there. So it always means the world to me when people send me little notes, no matter how big or small, in response to my posts.
The post that I’m most proud of is “our brown is beautiful.” Over the summer, after what felt like open season on black men, with the back to back fatal shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police, I decided to write about it on my blog. I never intended to make my blog a political space, but my newsfeed was filled with such hurt, despair, and violent streaming videos of these shootings caught on tape. I wanted to change that.
I wanted to remind my brothers and sisters that we mattered. I was really nervous, but I’m so happy that I did it. It was only a month after I started my blog, and the messages, texts, and re-shares that I got on that one post reassured me that my voice did matter. In that moment, I felt like I was creating content that resonated with people, and that made me really proud.
5. What’s something you want to get better at?
Driving. So it’s an age old tale but ask any NYC native and they probably didn’t learn to drive. I never got a car in high school and never drove myself to school. There was nowhere I couldn’t go without my student metrocard [seriously].
However, my [very smart] parents were of the mindset that no matter what, having a license was important. So, the summer before college, I took lessons 3 times a week and passed my drivers test about a week before moving to college. 4 years in Philly meant no driving either, though, so I’ve probably driven about an hour in total in the last 4 years.
Having moved to California, I have found many more reasons to drive in the past 5 months than in the last 22 years of my life. Trips to Napa, LA, Monterrey, and the list goes on are just a drive away, and I want to at least be in the running for designated driver as opposed to resident DJ.
6. What’s your favorite comfort food?
Thai food, always. And for dessert, Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy ice cream.
7. What’s your favorite book?
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Adichie was preaching the gospel, and I was snapping the entire time.
8. If you could try another job for a day, what would it be?
An ob-gyn. Admittedly, I’m in awe of the female body and can’t get over the fact that we literally.bring.life.into.the.world. What is more badass than that? [Nothing.]
9. If you could give your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Just go for it. At Penn, I was surrounded by my incredible peers who seemed so fearless in chasing their dreams - starting their own business, creating their own platforms, winning fellowships, and the list goes on. But you know what, they were just as afraid as everyone else. But they went ahead and did it anyway. A good friend of mine has a cartoon series, and hands down my favorite one is this.