Meredith Dean (ABJ ’14), a program coordinator for Ryan Seacrest Studios and founder of The Dean’s List, challenged nearly 900 high school students to stand out in a crowd, be well-rounded and to start working now on creating a professional impression.
Dean delivered her energetic keynote at the opening of the Georgia Scholastic Press Association Fall Conference on Sept. 19, at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia.
Dean began her talk by sharing her career path while interjecting pieces of advice. She encouraged the students to take advantage of opportunities and invitations to events where they can network with professionals, even as students. She also gave examples of how just showing up can open doors to the next opportunity. She advised the audience to be open to chance encounters and take risks.
“Anything that scares you is probably worth doing,” Meredith said, adding the caveat that students need stay within the limits of being safe.
She also advised that even as students, young people can contribute ideas and current skills that professionals may not have.
“You can always teach your mentors,” Dean said, recalling how she has helped several mentors with digital and social media concepts.
Woven throughout her entire talk was the theme of empowerment…empowering students to ask to shadow professionals for a day; empowering them to choose a word to guide them throughout the year; and empowering them to never think they are too young to contribute. The theme of empowerment is a personal theme of Dean’s who is in the final planning stages of directing EmpowerCon 2019, a motivational conference, in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sept. 28.
Networking was a topic that came up throughout her talk. In addition to her advice of trying to reach out to someone new every day, she also advised reaching out to a variety of people in different professional groups, making a goal of connecting about a third of the time with peers, a third with mentors or more seasoned professionals and a third with mentees or those younger.
Dean concluded her talk by talking about social media do’s and don’ts, including establishing a personal brand early and completing online profiles.
“Make sure everything you post online is something you are proud of,” Dean said.
Dean works at the Seacrest Studios at the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is also the founder of The Dean’s List, a digital branding and consulting company that helps professionals build personal portfolios online. A portion of her Dean’s List proceeds go toward Habitat Aid Initiative, a non-profit that works to empower women and alleviate poverty in western Kenya. In 2018, Dean received recognition as a UGA 40 under 40 leader.