This post originally appeared on the blog MakingManhattan.com and has been edited.
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t spend a majority of our day scrolling through Instagram, editing and posting pictures, and looking for the coolest new accounts to follow. For Jennifer Heal, the social media and digital marketing manager for Whole Foods Market, it’s more than a fun way to pass the time, it’s a job. Jen spends her days working in the brand’s stores, and on various off-site locations planning out and shooting content. Her own Instagram account @jenniferheal, is loaded with one-of-a-kind foodie pictures and colorful backdrops that reflect her background in fashion. Read on to find out how Jen got her start and what it takes to make social media a full-time gig.
What was your first internship, and how did it impact your career?
In college, I interned at Betsey Johnson in the public relations department. I did everything I could to prove myself from small tasks like running errands and picking up coffee, to taking on bigger projects putting together organizational processes and strategies for the team. I eventually moved from intern to retail employee at Betsey’s 60th Street boutique and when a job opened as receptionist in the showroom, I jumped at the opportunity, even though it would mean working during the day and going to school at night. After graduation, I got hired in the PR department as Betsey’s first social media manager, which is essentially what launched my career in the digital realm. My experience at Betsey Johnson really taught me that with hard work, dedication and motivation, you can make anything happen!
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before starting your career what would it be?
Don’t sweat the small stuff! Starting a job or an internship can be intimidating, but just remember, your boss and even your boss’s boss all started out like you. If they are having a bad day and take it out on you, don’t let it get to you. Be strong, respectful and remember to always stay positive!
What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
One of my mentors always told me not only to dress for the job you want, but also, to act for the job you want! For example, do you have a mentor or someone you look up to at work? Try mimicking their behaviors when it comes to speaking with leadership, email communication or even on client calls. This is crucial for career growth as it allows you to take the parts of people you admire most and add their methods to your “tool belt”. With enough practice, you will find yourself utilizing these skills in everyday work life, allowing you to grow into the leader you want to be.
After working in fashion, what led you to make the change to Whole Foods?
After being in the fashion and beauty industry for about five years, I moved into food to flex my career muscles and expand my resume. I wanted to be known for my expertise in the digital realm and I knew that by taking a leap into a different industry, I would not only learn a ton about social media, but also about myself.
As the social media and digital marketing manager for Whole Foods, how would you describe a typical day?
The beauty of my job is there really is no “typical day.” One day I could be in meetings at our regional offices and the next, I could be at McCarren Park shooting a stop motion video. That said, being in stores — whether that’s shopping for a photo shoot or visiting with team members — is very important to the company. You really can’t manage Whole Foods Market’s social media (or any retail location for that matter) without a solid understanding of how the business operates and the general day to day. Since a big part of my role is helping to manage and guide our marketing managers, I often times meet with them in stores to understand the community or in-store events they are planning so we can strategize ways to get those messages out on social.
What are your best tips for standing out on social media?
First and foremost, be yourself! Don’t post photos because you think other people are going to like them, post because you like them. Second, have a voice. Standing out on social media means expressing your thoughts and what makes you unique. This is your chance to share a little slice of your life with people so try and be as genuine as possible. And finally, stay on-brand. Once you’ve found your niche, try not to stray far from it.
Where are some of your favorite Insta worthy places to capture a good shot?
I am all about a good graffiti wall so here are my top favorites:
- This colorful floor in Williamsburg right across from Roebling Tea Room
- The pool at McCarren Hotel has an adorable vibe
- Love the #Colorwave wall in Bushwick
- Nolita is always filled with colorful and fun walls like this and this
- This spot is in Williamsburg right on the corner of Wythe and North 3rd.
With social media constantly changing, what advice would you give to someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?
For anyone interested in working as a social media marketer, it’s important to stay on top of what’s trending in the digital sphere. Early on, I subscribed to all the top niche social media and digital marketing sites – these are often times where social marketing news drops first and by subscribing, I ensure I never miss a beat. Every morning on my way to work, I sift through headlines ensuring I am on the up and up when it comes to important or new digital trends.
Caroline Vazzana is a fashion writer, editor, and stylist living and working in her hometown of New York. She’s worked for Anna Sui, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and InStyle. She has collaborated with designers including Betsey Johnson and Diane Von Furstenberg, and has styled celebrities for various red carpets like the MTV Video Music Awards and Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. Caroline is currently the Founder & Creative Director of MakingManhattan.com where she hopes to shed light on the industry to the future fashion generation. Make sure to follow her everywhere @cvazzana for an inside look into her day to day in NYC.