Ashly Perez is as an editor and producer at Buzzfeed. Her background story inspired Colorado State University students Tuesday night as she visited the Lory Student Center to discuss obtaining your dream job.
According to her presentation, Perez felt pressured to find a job that was not at her father’s dental office after college graduation.
“I thought I was going to be a diplomat,” Perez said. “After graduation, all of my friends had jobs, and I did not have a job at all. I was terrified and just felt like a complete failure.”
Perez said she moved to South Korea where she taught English for a year. While there, Perez began writing blogs about life in your 20s. It was well received and opened new opportunities for her.
About two weeks before Perez was supposed to move back home, she received a phone call from Buzzfeed asking if she would be willing to move to New York and work as a paid intern for a few months. Perez decided to take a chance and left for the Big Apple .
Perez wrote comedic stories and content that included her perspective on things like beauty standards and sexuality. Although she was writing and creating videos that people enjoyed, Perez said she had a hard time giving herself credit where it was due.
“It kind of happened all at once,” Perez said. “I was able to get more and more work as a writer, but I had this really scary moment as a writer where I couldn’t decide if I was actually a real writer because I kind of felt like a hack.”
Towards the end of her presentation, Perez opened the floor up for a Q&A session with the audience. Perez discussed having to fight to post the contest she wanted because the people in charge were predominately white and male.
“It is true that most of the people in the industry are old, white men, and they don’t really understand me,” Perez said. “It is weird trying to have to prove yourself and your worth, and the fact that you can say, ‘people do want to watch these stories, I promise you.’ But, the really cool thing about breaking into that industry is that nobody was able to say no to me because I went my own route. I felt like I grew my own audience.”
Although Perez is often mistaken as being of Japanese descent, she is Cuban, Filipino and Korean. Perez said that having such a diverse background sometimes made it difficult for her to find her place. However, Perez’s multiracial background made an impact on some of the audience members.
“I’m Latina myself, so just anyone who is not part of the norm is just very interesting to learn about and see how they interact with people and how they feel about everything,” said CSU student Andrea Arria. “I think it should happen more than it does. She’s such genuine person, and it felt like she understood what people are going through.”
CSU student Vanesa Vlanco Lopez also felt inspired by Perez’s story.
“CSU is predominately white, and so to have Ashly who identifies as multiracial and who is also a community member of the LGBTQ plus community was really cool because we don’t get a lot of speakers who identify with those identities,” Vlanco Lopez said. “Having her here on campus, I’m sure that many students were able to connect to her story or share their own stories that are similar. I think CSU should do more events like this.”
Before closing Perez left her audience with four pieces of advice: don’t be afraid to ask then do what you said you were going to do, humility and curiosity can take you far, don’t be a cheap copy of someone else and finally and be yourself.
“The best content is always personal,” Perez said.
Collegian reporter Alaysha Powell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or in Twitter @alaysha_powell.