A Day In The Life Of – is an ongoing series that spotlights employees at BuzzFeed.
In one sentence, what is your job right now?
I have two main assignments: I’m tasked with developing the culture for writers and editors here in our LA office and I also write viral posts, whether it’s reporting a social news story or larger, more ambitious projects. It’s sort of a two-for-one special. Get you a man who can do you both. That’s me. I’m that man.
What were you doing before BuzzFeed?
I was living at home, working retail, and just honestly applying to EVERY SINGLE JOB POSSIBLE. I interviewed for so many jobs at so many companies for so many positions — I really just wanted to get my foot in the door. I didn’t have this sexy media job before joining BuzzFeed — I was fresh out of college, folding clothes at a retailer living in my high school bedroom, and BuzzFeed took a chance on me, which was really cool.
What did you study in college? Is it relevant to what you’re doing now?
I had a major in shitty beer with a minor in drinking games. Just kidding. I was a double major in Film/TV and Medieval Studies at Notre Dame. Film/TV was cool, but I was in it for the money with the Medieval Studies major for sure — so much money in knowing the difference between a lancet and bell arch. Honestly, I could have majored in anything in our liberal arts college. I always say that a liberal arts major teaches you how to bullshit people and if you can bullshit — in a good way — and are able to sell something and believe in it and make people believe in it, you can do anything. It’s all about having people side with you in an argument, whether that’s about analyzing a TV show or talking about Gothic cathedrals. Communication as a skill is universally applicable.
What's the biggest challenge about your job?
Juggling different tasks that require different skill sets. I’m doing a variety of tasks in one job, so it’s like I’m driving 60 miles per hour on the freeway, but I also have someone on the phone, and I’m also trying to sip my iced coffee. Like, I do that in real life too (hey, I live in L.A.) and I don’t get into accidents, but there are always close calls, just like at work. That’s a metaphor from real life that I guess also works for my job.
What's the best part about your job?
There’s the perks of going to all of these events and interviewing really cool people which seem so awesome from the outside, but honestly, and this sounds like such a lame answer, but the best part of the job is really my coworkers. The events and meeting and speaking to important people and doing cool things are only a result of being inspired and driven and pushed by the people that I’m surrounded with at BuzzFeed. I wouldn’t be able to appreciate what people on the outside think would be the best part of my job if I didn’t have the talented, funny, creative, and inspiring coworkers that I do. Except for Keely Flaherty. She’s the worst.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Obviously, every day is so different, but if you look at what I do, my days are split along similar lines. I’m hosting brainstorms and meetings and developing strategies for the LA office, but also if a Kardashian uploads a picture to Instagram with Blac Chyna and it’s newsworthy, I’m going to be on top of that, too. I’m also working on some long-term projects, so it’s a mix of all of those. I’m always in urgent need of coffee at around 10:30, so I go satisfy that need, and then there’s always a lag at around 3pm every day and that’s when I like to share a funny meme to the LA office chat. A jolt of energy is sometimes an amazing “Run Away With Me” Vine (protect Carly Rae Jepsen at all costs) or something rude I found on Tumblr. I mean, I personally think it’s funny and but usually my coworkers want to scream at me, but I like to spice things up a bit and keep people on their toes. HR hasn’t contacted me (yet), so I must be doing something right.
What is your favorite BuzzFeed piece of all time?
I have two of them. Personally, I got to walk in a fashion show and was a male model for a day, which was insane (I didn’t trip thank GOD), and writing about it was a real treat. Plus, I got to hang out with male models. As for one I didn’t write, when Matt Stopera lost his cell phone and it turned up in China with an orange farmer, he wrote it into several huge huge viral posts and that’s something only Matt Stopera could have done, and done it well. That was such a joyous series of stories to read, when the internet brought two people together who would normally never meet under any circumstances and made them lifelong friends. That story spoke a lot to what I think BuzzFeed stands for, which is bringing people together through the internet (and lost iPhones).
What advice do you have for someone who wants to do what you do?
Be yourself online. Be on Twitter, be on Instagram, be on Facebook. Spend time on the internet. You have to live some of your life online if you want to work at a company like BuzzFeed and have some fun with it. Be yourself, make jokes, be funny. Make mistakes (but like, maybe not an Anthony Weiner level mistake)! It’s not going to discourage companies like BuzzFeed from hiring you for the most part. As Kourtney Kardashian once said, there are people dying out there — you holding a beer can in a photo should not impact whether or not you are going to be able to do your job and I think most progressive companies are aware of that. I have a good rule of thumb that if I can’t say it to my mom, I shouldn’t be posting it or saying it at all. Do I always follow that? No. But it’s still a good rule to keep in mind.
The last show you binge watched?
I just really rapidly watched UnReal to catch up for this season. It’s so good. I aspire to be Quinn.
Favorite snack in the office?
Dark chocolate espresso beans. It’s also dark chocolate, so it’s like... “healthy”.
If you could breed two totally different animals together, what new animal would you create?
Obviously one has to be a shark for sure, and I really like cheetahs because they’re cute and also really good at killing things. I think God will probably roll his eyes at me, but that’s my answer: a shark and a cheetah. I’ll draw it for you.
If you could be any other person in the world, who would it be?
Anna Wintour on the night of the Met Gala, just so I could silently judge everyone and yell at celebs who were misbehaving. Like, “Taylor, stop dancing, you’re embarrassing everyone.” I think I’d be good at that.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I’m on an adult gay swim team, so I permanently smell like chlorine because of that. I also like to take good Instagrams in my free time. Like, my Instagram game is strong.
What’s your shower jam?
I don’t listen to music in the shower, but if I’m gonna listen to music in the shower, I need something that’s going to get me pumped up, so right now I’m all about anything Ariana Grande. She totally has the range. Dangerous Woman is the album of the year.
If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
Sydney, Australia. I follow a lot of hot Australians on Instagram. Australians are so problematic, but so hot. But I can relate to half of that… the problematic half.
What person or thing do you want to be when you grow up?
I really want to be Maleficent when I grow up, so if that happens, I’d be pretty excited about that. I’ve got the evil thing down pat, I just need the horns and the outfit.
Finally, if you could create your own BuzzFeed badge, what would it say?
I think we just need an eggplant emoji badge. I think everything you need to say can be said with the eggplant emoji. No words, just slap it on there. The badge, not like a...OK nevermind.
Photo Credit: Nina Mohan, Sam Stryker
Illustrations: Sam Stryker, Rahul Kothari
Interviewed By: Rahul Kothari