University of Washington - Bachelor of Arts, English Literature
The University of Montana, Master of Fine Arts, Digital Filmmaking
In a former life (two months ago) Hasalyn Harris was the anchor and producer of Western Montana's No. 1-rated morning news cast, "Montana Today." In May, she made an industry jump and joined WONGDOODY in Los Angeles (alongside partner-in-crime, Bri) as a digital strategist. She's also the co-founder and curator of aloneinaforest.com — a website about interesting things. Hasalyn is someone we aspire to be more like. She has unshakable confidence. And oh ya, she pulls off a killer wrap dress and red lip look even Diane von Furstenberg would have to stop and admire.
Always come to work armed with ideas.
How did you discover your current job?
About a year ago, I tweeted, "What's the job where you can be creative, obsessed with analytics and work with fun people?" Bri tweeted me back and said, "I know someone who has that job! And I'll introduce him to you!" Little did I know that less than a year later I'd have that job.
I applied for literally hundreds of jobs. Then, one day ... after an especially exhausting and terrible interview -- you know the day when you say, "I give up!" -- I got an email from Bri that there was an opening at WONGDOODY (a company I really wanted to work for) in digital strategy (i.e., my dream job). I applied ... and moved to Los Angeles in May. If you had told me a year ago this would be my path, I can't say I wouldn't have believed you, but I can say I would have been a lot less stressed for most of the winter months!
What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?
I have a funny path ... and I'm not sure it lines up like it should. I'm just a girl who has always worked really hard to get to do what I want. And along the way, I guess I don't really question whether it makes sense -- or whether it's a track. But I'll admit, it's surreal to set out to do something ... and then be doing it. For that, I'm just so grateful.
I feel so darn lucky to be doing what I'm doing, where I'm doing it -- in this moment.
Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?
I mentioned that terrible interview in the moments before I heard about my current position at WONGDOODY.
That interview was a real light bulb moment. I had been sitting there for three hours ... and watching my potential colleagues come in and out of the room to talk to me. I swear, every one of them was wearing the same outfit. Maybe they weren't exactly the same, but they all blended together.
And you know what? I'm a color person. And I remember thinking to myself, "I'll just be the zany one here, if I get this job, they know I'm the 'creative type.'" And at the end of the terrible interview the person said, "I think you're wonderful, but I also think you're just too creative for this job.
And I was so mad. Because I hate being pigeonholed. I hate being told I can't do something. But you know what? She was right. I was too creative for that job. And it's only working in my current position that I can admit that. I would have been miserable.
New job opportunities are like new relationships -- it's a big commitment. And it's worth waiting for just the right thing to come along. And it's kismet when it does.
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
OK, OK, I know everyone probably says each day is different from the next ... but I can say that for me, it's true! Just yesterday I was writing copy for a urinal website, and the day before I was editing a video for vitamin-infused water. Today I was in Compton shooting B-roll for the agency-produced documentary, "Free Throw."
I used to wake up at 2 a.m. ... and I was off at 10 a.m. I'm getting used to this eight hours of sleep thing.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
It's funny -- at both WONGDOODY and aloneinaforest.com I'm rewarded in almost the same way -- I get to share my work and ideas with people. I'm still in awe at the reach of advertising -- I mean, there's a large audience in local news -- but the scope of projects I'm involved in now is almost overwhelmingly big. I got an assignment last week for a video project that will be released worldwide. And on a smaller scale, big number days at aloneinaforest.com blow my mind, too. I am so humbled that anyone would care what I have to say about anything.
What is the most challenging part?
We have to constantly be thinking outside the box for different clients. There is no room for sleep walking through projects -- which keeps my brain happy, but can also be challenging at times. That’s where collaboration comes in … when you involve other people, your work will always be fresher.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
Hard work has paid off in every job I've ever had. But unlike my work habits in the past, I'm trying to bring balance to my new life in California. On Saturday, my boyfriend and I went hiking and swimming in Malibu before spending the evening wrapping up an editing project for work. I now understand the importance of taking time for myself -- it not only makes me feel better, it makes me think better. And do better.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
Finding balance is always tough. For both men and women, I imagine. But since I am a woman, I only have my perspective. For me, balancing a crazy and growing workload with a relationship and the occasional gym session can be an exercise in chaos. But it’s worth striving for. My life is richer with balance.
Who are your role models?
My grandma is pretty rad. When my grandfather passed away several years ago, she realized she had always wanted to go to college. So, she enrolled in the local community college. She’s really tiny, like 4’9” so she had to get a roller backpack to cruise around campus. When I was in grad school, she was undergrad, and we used to swap stories from class. I'm so proud of her, and I feel lucky to share her genes.
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
This is one thing that hasn't changed in the last year: Illegitimi non carborundum (Don't let the bastards get you down). My grandpa used to say it, and it's true.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
When I worked in television, my advice was: Be smart, work hard, and don’t wear glitter on television. Ever.
For advertising it’s: Be smart, work hard, and never go to work without your headphones. The office can be very loud at times.
Oh and … always, always come to work armed with ideas.
I still resist glitter.
How can girls reading this connect with you?
You can reach me by going to aloneinaforest.com -- feel free to comment on our work. Or just email firstname.lastname@example.org.