“Congratulations! You’ve been selected for the internship with [redacted]…”
That’s all I read before I dropped my phone in excitement. Here I am: 24 years old, living in my dream city and hand-picked out of dozens of candidates to work directly under my professional idol. Things are on the up and up.
I read the book, studied the moves, listened to the interviews and now I get to soak in [and contribute to] the game first hand. So excited.
My excitement, however, plummeted to disappointment once I got a daily dose of the person behind the brand.
I’ll never knock her hustle or her impact, her work speaks for itself. I’m grateful for the opportunity and connections I made, but the internship was one of the most stressful and condescending experiences of my life; to be frank, I felt more like a slave than an intern who’s there to learn.
Without going into details, I’ll just say this: she certainly didn’t come as advertised and I don’t think she’s here to empower Black women as much as her brand suggests. In a short time two things rang true: I should never meet my idols, and I shouldn’t even have an “idol” in the first place.
I won’t name drop because [NDA aside] this isn’t about her or throwing shade for clickbait; IYKYK. Her name isn’t important–she represents a bigger issue with what the social media streets call “girlboss culture.”
How many of you have ever bought a book, gone to a seminar, or purchased a brunch ticket with the promise of life-changing takeaways, only to leave feeling robbed (and with more questions than answers)?
If you’re like me, you’re tiredT of the cookie-cutter personas and empty inspirational quotes. You’re more interested in making connections and more concerned with the ‘how’ than ‘how it looks’.
Enter Tiffany Giles: marketing consultant and dot connector.
Tiffany is a fearless leader, trailblazer, and breath of fresh air in the female entrepreneur space.
As owner of WhoIsTMedia consulting, she loves helping businesses brand themselves and make meaningful connections with their consumers. With 7 years in corporate communications under her belt, Tiffany uses her expertise to convey passion and creativity for any brand she touches.
I chatted with the marketing maven about her career path, what led to her becoming “the connect”, and how she’s separating herself from girlboss culture.
From film-making and luxury client relations to advertising and real estate marketing, Tiffany has made her professional mark across the board; she uses her unique expertise to blaze her own trail and channel her creativity in a corporate way.
“I had a very non traditional path,” said Tiffany, “I was insecure about it at first, but as I’ve grown in my career I found that it actually worked out for me. I want people to know that it’s ok to have an unconventional road.”
The proud Howard alum credits the university and its culture with teaching her how to sell herself and demonstrate her professional value. Though she attributes her degrees and credentials with getting her in the door, she admits that she wouldn’t be where she is without her network.
“I’ve always been around networking and job-building events through my mother, who’s in a sorority,” Tiffany told the 20 Something Saga. “Every big opportunity I’ve landed was from knowing someone who knows someone; I’ve rarely gotten anything just from applying.”
Though Tiffany speaks networking fluently with notable connections across industries, she understands that many other young Black professionals don’t have the same advantage.
“People need opportunities, but don’t have resources. I noticed that ‘my circle’ and I have so many interconnections of amazing people, and I look around and see others who want to do these jobs and want these opportunities, but have nowhere to start. I believe [we] need to build upon one another and reach back.”
From this, The Connect was born.
In 2020, the Baltimore native started The Connect, a networking group for rising Baltimore & DC, MD, VA professionals. She shared with us how The Connect intends to stand out among other networking groups in the area.
“I want people to leave with something tangible–whether it’s an industry mentor or a hiring manager from their industry. I want The Connect to be a group that people can use as a resource to get opportunities.”
Their first mixer in May proved to be a success, despite the last-minute transition from physical to virtual networking due to social distancing. Attendees raved about how they loved the casual yet dynamic discussion.
In true 20 Something Saga fashion, we had to get to the real:
what makes The Connect so necessary, and why should we care? What is Tiffany Giles doing that sets her apart from the ‘nice-nasty’ girlboss archetype?
“I’ve separated myself from the girlboss culture, in terms of idolizing people. We buy into these events and brunches to hear women talk about how they’ve made it to this point, but they’re not giving us resources, telling us websites, or sharing the steps they took. It’s the same ‘I worked hard and really wanted it, and now I’m here’ story. I’ve left so many of these events like ‘that’s great for you, but where did you start? What did you do?’ They think they’re being inspirational but there’s no substance involved.”
“That’s the part that frustrates me about the girlboss culture: it’s not specific enough,” Tiffany went on to say. “They don’t really want to help people, they just want the money, notoriety, freebies, and beautifully curated Instagrams that come with [the title]. They don’t want to be engaged with the community of people they’re trying to inspire. [With The Connect] I want to create an environment where everyone is comfortable and fun but we still get things done and learn from each other.”
Connect with @theconnectbaltimore to get details about future mixers, seminars, or other professional networking events.
Want to learn more about Tiffany and her consulting? Check out her site WhoIsTMedia.com, follow her on Twitter @tleighmedia and Instagram @iamtmedia.