Loyola Marymount University, B.A., Communications
Cristina Gibson’s first internship was with her local newspaper writing weekend features. Then, while she was in college at Loyola-New Orleans studying communications and working as a production assistant at Fox 9 News, Hurricane Katrina hit. School was promptly closed for the semester.
However, the disaster didn’t deter Cristina’s success. She transferred to Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles and when she was offered an internship at E!, decided to stay. Cristina ended up writing her own column for E! Online and contributing to E! News. She also began freelancing with SheKnows — a client she still partners with today — among others, like InStyle, Cambio, Yahoo! Travel and Fox News.
There's enough success to go around and it's just good karma. Pay it forward!
What are your responsibilities? How do you organize your day?
My days are a bit atypical, since I don't go to an office every day. I do, however, stick to a schedule. I write four stories a day for Cambio and usually have others due or in the works for other outlets.
It's a juggling act. I like to write two stories in the morning; go on break to have lunch, run errands or take meetings; then complete the rest of my writing during the afternoon. Oftentimes at night, I have events to cover or go to. If I cover an event or interview a celebrity for InStyle.com, the story and file is due by 9 a.m., so I either write when I get home or wake up early to turn it in on time.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
I love that every day is different and how flexible my schedule is. As long as I have Wi-Fi, I can write and publish from anywhere. I enjoy covering different subjects, from entertainment to fashion to travel, meeting interesting people and telling their stories.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
I'm often multitasking and working on multiple assignments at once, so I have to manage my time and stay on top of everything. People sometimes think when you're self-employed, you can slack off, but I find the opposite. You have to be highly self-motivated and disciplined.
I sometimes think of pitches and story ideas while I'm falling asleep, so I keep notes in my iPhone so I don't forget anything. When I do TV segments, they're usually live and I'm demoing things, so there are a lot of moving parts. I always have note cards and talking points I run through in bed the night before.
With what we can imagine to be a packed schedule is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
The lines often blur between work/life for me, like when I’m covering an event and doing an interview, but it's fun and I see my friends there. In NYC, there's always something going on and when I first moved here, I felt like I had to say yes to every invite I got. But now I try to be more selective. Of course, if I'm assigned to cover or foresee good networking opportunities, I'll go. That said, sometimes it's nice to stay in or hit the gym instead of a party.
What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?
I have my first story in the December issue of InStyle magazine, so I'm excited for that! I've been writing for their website for the past few months, but having something in print is always fun.
With such an amazing job, what is your best work perk?
There are some amazing gift bags. At a party for the Emmy Awards, one swag bag included a free hotel stay in Hawaii!
What are some of the rules you live by?
Be nice and be honest. Media is a very small world where you're bound to run into the same people, so be professional and polite as much as possible. This is definitely a fun job, but you have to take your work and reputation seriously.
I also believe in trying to help other people when you can and not being uber-competetive. I'm always happy to connect people for opportunities or refer them to jobs. There's enough success to go around and it's just good karma. Pay it forward!
What advice do you have for a woman who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Work as many internships as possible. Some of mine weren't paid, but the experience was priceless. You meet so many people and you often get to write and have bylines.
Get published as much as possible, whether it's your own blog or a school newspaper. Today, there are so many websites you can write for as a contributor — like Cambio!
Lastly, get social media savvy. In today's digital age, it's really important to understand shareable and viral content and to have a strong social media presence.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
You don't have to have everything figured out. There's not one right path to follow. Have a vision, but be open to new opportunities.