I first met Danielle Tietjen through my company’s mentorship program; she was assigned as my mentor. I jokingly told my husband that I wanted to partake in the mentorship experience so as to find my soul guide. By soul guide I meant someone who would help me find my way to a career that I loved. Enter Danielle, who embodies just that, an individual so fulfilled by her job it seems unreal. While the sound of Creative Director at an established brand like Food Network emanates a successful career, the passion and love that Danielle possesses for her calling impressed me the most. The ever present delight in her voice when she describes what her job entails alone bears evidence of this passion. So much so, that I thought to myself, “Wow, who doesn’t want that?” I initially interviewed her for the blog in order to tell the remarkable story of the journey she took to lead her to her current destination. However, since Danielle’s mentorship and story have impacted me immensely, I instead chose to write a post promoting the importance of a mentor or soul guide for anyone. Not just for the purpose of career advancement but for expanding your breadth of knowledge, for accountability and a trusted ear. As evidence for the argument of the importance of a mentor, I’ll share three tips that I’ve learned from my mentor.
- Let your experiences shape you
When she graduated from college Danielle majored in communications and theater with the impetus of becoming an actress/casting director. However, she quickly discovered through her first internship for a casting director at a Soap Opera that she wanted more. About casting she says, “It was a really small part of this huge production process. I realized I wanted to be behind the scenes not just casting.” That moment influenced her to pursue more producer oriented roles.
- Be creative about going for what you want
After being laid off from FX as part of the network’s move to California from New York, Danielle found herself working for a daily talk show that didn’t offer benefits or stability. She asserts that she didn’t like this, “So on the weekends I was working at ABC sports….ABC had just bought ESPN.” That weekend job laid the path for a behind the scenes role at ABC, where she wrote promo copy for Monday Night Football’s, Boomer Esiason and Frank Gifford.
- Let people know what you want
As a writer/producer for Food Network promotions’ team, initially Danielle produced promotions for Food Network shows. She fell into an opportunity to work on partnership promotion, which differs from show promotions because it comprises working with a Food Network star to promote a partner like Hidden Valley. She enjoyed this experience and made it clear to the organization that she wanted to be more involved in these opportunities. As a result she continued to complete similar projects and from there, “I went from senior writer producer to executive producer for special projects,” she exclaims. Her position today as Creative Director of Special Projects reinforces the importance of speaking out about what you want in your career.