Hi Melissa, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I'm Melissa and I'm an Asian American woman who LIVES for pop culture and all things *fun* in this life. I jokingly refer to myself as a millennial rebranding as an older Gen-Zer because I love learning more about what's *hip* with today's youth. While I pride myself on being a very bubbly and free-spirited person, I'm also coincidentally a very hardworking albeit sometimes anal-retentive, type-A person as well. I'm lucky that that my work allows me to be both: working with today's top influencers while also developing fully-scaled creator operational programs at the largest tech companies in the world.
When I'm not working, I like to live my best, hedonistic life by trying new foods (eating out OR testing out recipes in the kitchen), singing karaoke at the top of my lungs (even though I'm tone deaf) and trying to make others laugh with my cheesy jokes or just by way being my weird, off-beat self.
Can you tell us what you do as a Growth Strategist at TikTok for those who are unfamiliar?
I'm currently a Growth Strategist at TikTok, which means I work with top creators everyday to help them maximize their presence on and off the platform through strategic insights derived from their analytics & my expertise on how the platform operates. TikTok (if you've been living under a rock) is a global, short-form video platform.
How did you decide to pursue growth strategy?
Since I was a kid, I've always had a knack for being... dramatic. In fact, my family literally calls me the "drama queen" as a nickname. So, it was only natural for me to be fascinated with the entertainment industry. If not in front of the camera myself, I knew that I wanted to be, at the very least, involved in the industry in some way, shape or form. In my early adult years, I took a very stable and safe job in sales at Google, but was lucky enough to be referred by a friend to work at YouTube directly with creators, and the rest was history.
What programs & tools do you use everyday for work? What do you like/dislike about these programs?
My current company uses their own version of popular products akin to G-suite (Sheets, Docs, Slides etc) and Salesforce (CRM and Analysis tools). For data, we lean on in-house products that help track creator analytics.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
1) Get experience through internships. The quality of work I've witnessed from college graduates who've spent their time interning is vastly different from those who haven't. Outside of the work itself, there's something to be said about people who've had experience navigating an office environment.
2) Personal affinity to what you're working on. If I see that you have a genuine interest in what you're working on, I'm way more inclined to think you'll actually enjoy your job - and perform better!
What are some must-have resources (books, tools, podcasts, etc.) you would recommend for your industry?
Have a TikTok account and use it everyday, haha. Other than that, if you can be resourceful (*cough* know how to do a VLOOKUP in excel *cough*), you're fine. I also might advise against listening to Gary Vee.
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
1) Must be extremely social - 99% of the role is developing relationships with celebrities. If you shy away from confrontation, this may not be the role for you.
2) Organization - working with creators at scale means managing a large portfolio of diverse personalities. There will be a ton of moving parts that require your extreme attention to detail.
3) Anticipation/being 'in-the-know' - you constantly want to push yourself at the forefront of the industry. Especially in tech, you want to align with how fast the products of our world change & how those changes may impact your business.
Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?
Most satisfying- working with 'celebrities'
Most difficult- working with 'celebrities'
What would you like to say to your younger self?
You are smart and capable. Be confident in who you are & know that there is no 'right' path - just the path you make for yourself.
Best advice you've received/heard?
Follow your curiosities. There will ALWAYS be time to learn and to pivot if needed. It's a waste to devote yourself to one thing for the rest of your life.