Women of Royalty Wednesday: Nia Batts

nia-12edit_bNia Batts is currently the Director of Strategic Partnerships & Social Impact for Viacom Inc., one of the world’s largest media conglomerates comprising MTV, BET and Paramount Pictures. In this position she oversees cause marketing and corporate responsibility practices while managing relationships with various partners and foundations to help the company leave a positive social impact.  One of her most successful cross- divisional projects was the launch of Get Schooled, a national education initiative created by Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Batts has always been interested in entertainment, programming and the impact that the screen can have on someone. Before joining Viacom, she worked at Warner Music Group and Def Jam, working with media powerhouse and record executive Kevin Liles. She got the opportunity to work on music videos, talent showcases and handling administrative responsibilities for Mr. Liles.

With a passion for social impact, Batts is very active in the community, as seen by her volunteer work with The East Harlem School and her position on their Young Volunteers Committee Executive Board. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Louis Carr Internship Foundation. Batts is very passionate about education reform and hopes to continue to focus on the need as she progresses in her career.

In an interview with Black Enterprise, she offered valuable advice to college grads: “You don’t have to plan your entire life at 22 but you do owe it to yourself to live presently and learn from the opportunities in front of you.”

Batts earned a B.A. in Film Studies from Columbia University and holds a professional certificate in Film Producing from New York University, SCPS. In 2012 the 27 year old change-agent was included on Black Enterprise’s list of 40 Rising Stars Under 40: The Next Generation of Women in Power.

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Mentally Preparing for College Graduation

photoI vividly remember packing our car to capacity with items for my new dorm room at Howard University as I prepared to begin my freshman year in college. Fast-forward three years later and I am trying to mentally prepare myself for what my life will be like after I graduate in May 2014.

The countdown to graduation has begun for many students and if you are like me, I’m sure you can use every bit of advice to make the transition from a college student to a young professional smoother. Consider these suggestions as you mentally prepare for the next phase of your life.

1. Realize that you are graduating

After you triple check the graduation requirements at your university and confirm that you will be graduating, accept it. Envision what you want your life to be like after you receive your hard-earned diploma. If you haven’t already done so, sketch out your 5 year plan and your 10 year plan. Create an action plan and work towards it. Make sure you are not in denial about graduation because you don’t want the big day to come without being prepared.

2. Make the transition easy on yourself

Have a Plan A, B, C and D if necessary to ensure that you will have something lined up to further your professional career. Whatever plans you have for life after graduation, do your homework to try to have a smooth transition. If you are offered a job or accepted into graduate school, use your last semester to visit the area (if possible) and get familiar with where you will soon live, possibly even meet people in the area. The more prepared you are, the easier the transition will be.

3. Continue to build and maintain your network

You have established various personal and professional relationships since you began college so it is essential to plan for continuing those connections. You will no longer see all of people who you interacted with during the last four years on a daily basis so think about the relationships that you would like to maintain. Take the necessary steps to make sure you have their contact information to keep in touch. This goes for not only students but the staff at your university as well.

4. Be absorbent like a sponge

One of the best things that you can do to mentally prepare for graduation is to talk to recent college graduates, particularly people who graduated within the last 5 years, about their transition. Ask them about how they prepared for life after college and use their advice to help guide you. But keep in mind that their story is not your story so you may not have the same experience. However, their testimony will give you an idea of what life after college is like.

5. Enjoy it while you can

Soon you will no longer be inside the comfortable walls of your college campus. You will fully be considered an adult with adult responsibilities and adult consequences. So enjoy being a student while you can, as long as you handle your responsibilities first. Create a bucket list of things that you want to do before you graduate so you leave your university knowing that you did everything that you wanted to do, even if that includes having a water balloon fight on main campus. This is the year to maximize every opportunity, personal and professional, that you are presented with.

It’s important to understand that even with a plan and proper preparation, the transition from college to the working world will not be easy. But just like it took some time to get adjusted to college, it will take time to get used to life after college as well.

Former Queens, do you have any tips on mentally preparing for life after college for soon to be graduates? Current Queens, how are you mentally preparing for graduation?

Office Conflict

Erinn Dumas is a self-proclaimed marketing and communications guru.

Erinn Dumas is a self-proclaimed marketing and communications guru.

By Erinn Dumas

Recently, a friend told me about an issue she was having with her boss. While the cause of the issue was minute, it felt like a mountain to her.

She had taken offense when her boss told her that her work was a “good start”, when in her eyes, the assignment was a completed 10-page plan. She took offense to this comment because she felt that her boss was in no position to criticize her since her boss didn’t have the same education or work experience as her. Basically, she looked at her boss as inferior.

As a result of the comment, my friend became very angry and tensions rose between her and her boss. This was not her first conflict with her boss, so this issue was compounded by their bad history. After deep prayer and talking with a few friends, she knew that she had to talk to her boss about it all. It was not easy for her to do – she hates conflict. She took her time and talked to her boss and cleared the air, she expressed to her boss why she was acting different and how her boss’ words made her feel. This eased the tensions between them, and more importantly, it lifted a weight off of my friend’s shoulders.

This story may be your story as well, or maybe you have been fortunate and not have experienced an office conflict. If you haven’t experienced it yet, it’s never too late to be prepared for it. You could be the boss and have an issue with your employee, you may have an issue with a colleague, or you may be the employee and have the issue with your boss.

Executive job search website, The Ladders, provides great conflict resolution tips. I agree with all of them, but I want to emphasize numbers 2 and 3 which are to apologize and pause.

2. Apologize as soon as you say it.

If you get triggered into saying something you regret, apologize right then and there. A well-timed, well-intentioned apology is not a sign of weakness — it’s a sign of respect, regard, clarity and executive civility.

Apologizing is a GREAT conflict resolution tool. The need for an apology may not come to you right after the incident, it may come to you that evening, but when you realize that YOU were wrong, you have to admit it. Great leaders can admit when they are wrong and you are no different from them. Sometimes apologizing immediately eliminates the conflict, especially if the issue is minute.

3. Pause.

As soon as you realize you’ve been triggered, pause and before saying another word, let your adrenaline surge and silently dissipate. Soothe with a benign smile.

Pause is another great tool. Sometimes it’s best to remove yourself from the issue, so you can get some clarity. Pausing allows you to think through the problem to see if it’s something that really needs to be addressed.

To the conflict resolution tips by The Ladders, I would also add talk to a trusted, objective mentor or friend. Speaking to an objective person about the issue will 1) help you to vent, and 2) provide you with some sound advice. There’s nothing like talking to someone about the issue and them providing you with objective feedback that can help you assuage the conflict.

What to Wear to the Office Holiday Party?

By Erinn Dumas

Erinn Dumas is a self-proclaimed marketing and communications guru.

Erinn Dumas is a self-proclaimed marketing and communications guru.

It’s the holiday season and a lot of companies have holiday parties. This may lead you to think: “What do I wear?”

If your office is having a holiday party during the work day, the attire is simple. You’ll be wearing what you wore to work. But, if your office has a holiday party on the weekend like mine is, then you may ask yourself, “What’s appropriate?” And, “What does the term cocktail dress really mean?”

Well, first remember that this is an office holiday party, so you shouldn’t wear anything too revealing or too tight. Keep it simple and cute. Something festive always works. So a slightly above the knee dress in shades of black, gold, red, or jewel tone always works. The dress can have a sweetheart neck, long sleeves, asymmetrical… It doesn’t matter. It just has to be tasteful.

And don’t be afraid to pair the dress with a cute brooch, chunky necklaces, or multiple bracelets.

But make sure to stay away from bulky sweater dresses, dresses with deep v-necks, or showing too much cleavage. It is not tasteful and you will be the talk of your colleagues, and not in a good way. 

Here are some of my favorite dresses:

Try this turquoise party dress with draping for your next office party. A sleek ponytail or bun and pumps should do the trick.

Try this turquoise party dress with draping for your next office party. A sleek ponytail or bun and pumps should do the trick.

The lace overlay and satin ribbon belt make this dress appropriate for the office and the office party with the change of a shoe or the addition of a blazer.

Is the office party out of the office? Get a little dressy with some added vlume to your skirt and a brightly colored pump.

How to Network

Last week, we talked about the benefits of networking. But the question is how does one get started? There are numerous ways to go about networking; however, before you do that you need to think about your purpose for networking.  … Continue reading