An award-winning advocate journalist whose experience has ranged from ABC to CNN, Erin Levin is now the Community and Social Media Manager at Better World Books. She is also a Co-Founder of Atlanta for Acumen that supports the Acumen Fund on a local level.
Q: Your first career was as a journalist at CNN, but we have heard that you never took a journalism class, its that true?
A: First I served in the Peace Corps as a volunteer in Madagascar. While it’s not a career, it certainly made a significant and positive impact on my career path. Upon return, I was a full-time journalist at CNN, and it is certainly true that I never took journalism classes.
The first experience I had is when I was in 8th grade; I came to know anchors of our local ABC a?liate because we had TVs in classrooms and they did morning announcements. My mom gave me a great piece of advice which was to get the business card of anyone whom you met and if you are interested in what they do then ask them for advice or help. Thanks to her advice working, I never grew up with the idea that just because someone was accomplished that they wouldn’t want to talk with me.
When I was getting ready to go to college and knew I was interested in journalism I asked my journalist mentors and their advice was to go somewhere I love, and ?ll in the gaps later. I did however have many internships focused around journalism. I interned for the Atlanta ABC affliate in college and also at The Center for Politics at UVA as the Southern Regional Political Correspondent and was an anchor and reporter for our student-run TV news show, as well as, working as an international news reporter for a local radio station in Charlottesville, VA. For me it was more about learning in the field which helped me figure out my future career.
Q: Do you think that it would have helped you more if you had gone to school and entered in to a journalism program?
A: I think that regardless of whether you have taken specific classes or not, by simply doing what you love the most, you can and a way to apply it and enter into the field of your choice. Passion is powerful.
Q: In your current role what do you do? What led you to this position with Better World Books?
A: As the Community and Social Media Manager at Better World Books, I manage our Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube and Flickr presence. I also blog, write and produce content that connects our social media channels with our online channels like book clubs. I really get to tell the story of Better World Books which fits my passions of journalism, travel, and education.
I learned about the company, Better World Books, when I was working at CNN. I was impressed by their mission and vision. I became a frequent customer on their website and their fan on Facebook. At the same time, I was wondering how I could sustain myself while making a difference in the world at the same time. On their fan page, I learned that they had job opportunities. When I read the description for my current role it described me perfectly!
Q: What do you enjoy about your work at Better World Books?
A: Meeting people is one of my favorite things about working at Better World Books. Whether they are my co-workers or our customers, we share the same goal: to help the world. I also love the fact that our business actually promotes good in society. I didn’t learn that capitalism can and should be making strides towards positive impact and investment until I read a book called The Blue Sweater. It was an eye-opening experience because the book taught me how a company can make money and work for a good cause at the same time.
For example, each purchase at Better World Books will help to solve literacy issues such as education for former child soldiers in Northern Uganda, homeless children in the U.S, and so many more. You can learn more about the positive impact we have at Better World Books here.
In fact, I am currently working on shooting and producing a series of mini-documentaries which highlight individuals who’s lives have been changed thanks to people like you buying and donating books with us. I am proud to tell people how our business makes this impact. Finally, I love that Better World Books offers free shipping and fairly priced books. That is a pretty good deal for book lovers!
Q: Outside of your job, you are also involved in film making. Please tell us about your projects.
A: When I was working at CNN, I realized how much I love film production. I wanted to go more in depth than breaking news; I realized I wanted to ask questions. On my birthday, I got a camera from my family and saw a chance to create my own film. I started fundraising to film a 30 minute documentary on the African Children’s Choir which was brought to CNN and presented through CNN International on Inside Africa.
Q: What advice would you like to share with young female professionals looking to develop their careers – perhaps something you have learned along the way?
A: The most important thing in building your career is to ask questions and to be proactive. If you want to do something, chase it!
In high school I was working at the public broadcast TV station in Atlanta and got to interview Sister Hazel and LL Cool J simply because I asked to do so. Sometimes things look pretty tough and impossible to achieve, but you will never know until you make a move.
The next important thing is to put your heart and soul into what you love and magical things will come out of it for you. Finally, establish and develop your network early in your career. Ask for informational interviews. Many of the people you meet, help, learn from or share your passions with come back to you later. It’s a win-win and cycle of positive impact.