Here are some tips and tricks from the boss woman herself.
Long before Riana Singh created spaces for young women to thrive and grow as professionals, she was taking cues from “Legally Blonde.”
“When I was 12, my dream job was to be a lawyer because I was obsessed with Elle Woods. [She's] my role model,” Singh told us.
While Singh didn't end up becoming a lawyer, she is still channeling that Elle Woods energy. After graduating from UCLA in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in Asian-American studies, the now 25-year-old professional moved to New York City to pursue an advertising residency program. It was during that time that she realized that she wanted to move into a field that was more practical, shifting gears and jumping headfirst into the tech industry.
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From there, she held a handful of roles that took her to San Francisco, where she joined the internal innovation team as a program manager at Uber. However, she realized this role was not the right fit for her and decided to leave six months in to embark on a new job search that consisted of “dry hunting, interviewing, soul-searching, being a participant of the ups and downs,” before landing her current role in Venture Capital Growth for AngelList.
While climbing the metaphorical ladder, Singh was also busy establishing Boss Women Collective as Founder and CEO to help other women just like her.
Boss Women Collective
Founded in 2018, Boss Women Collective (BWC) is a digital platform focused on empowering women in the early stages of their careers through personal growth and professional development — something Singh noticed was lacking in the networking world.
“I felt that a lot of the networking groups that I've heard of were very much focused on your professional identity, and not your personal identity,” Singh explained. “I wanted to create a community where you could go to events and meet new people … that you would actually want to be friends with. I wanted to create this peer mentorship group where everyone is learning together in a way that doesn't feel intimidating and emphasizes that we are all a work in progress.”
With profiles across Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, BWC has hosted over 60 panels, workshops, book clubs, and virtual experiences for its members over the past two years, while also offering digestible advice on all work-related topics, ranging from different professional journeys to how to change the way you speak at work. The platform also posts job descriptions for entry- to senior-level professionals, highlighting a different industry each time.
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Another key BWC takeaway? The amplification of women of color's voices, from their “Member Monday” spotlights on Instagram to choosing women of color industry leaders to speak on their panels, for their workshops, and more. Women of color are highlighted throughout BWC, creating a space that is inclusive, diverse, and empowering.
With COVID-19 keeping most events virtual, Singh hopes to eventually get back to in-person events. But until then, her goals for the future of BWC remain the same: to continue to be a space for women to grow.
“I want every recent graduate or young woman in the workforce to feel that Boss Women Collective is their go-to platform to not only learn about how to navigate any trials or tribulations that they're having in the workforce, but a genuine place to make lifelong new friends.”
“Secret” job-search and career tips from the boss woman herself
Through her work leading BWC, Singh has a wealth of job-seeker knowledge to share with other professionals — especially young women and women of color. Here are her tips, as told by her:
Optimize for the job you want
I think if anything, take a step back and think about what you're actually trying to optimize for. I think it feels very easy to send out your resume across a wide variety of job-hunting websites or different platforms, but unless you know exactly what you're looking for, whether that's a title or a company's values and mission, it can feel like you're just sending your resume down a rabbit hole.
I always encourage people as they are jumping into the job search or thinking about starting to apply to jobs in a few months to actually create time and space for that moment of self-reflection. I think that they will realize that they don't need to send out as many applications because they're sending out better-quality applications.
Actually use Twitter
I'm very active on Twitter, and one thing that helps me that I don't think a lot of people do now is following employees at companies — especially those that have public profiles or talk about things that they do at the company.
Especially for individuals who work in tech, this is a great way to not only build rapport with employees at companies you want to work for, but it makes it a little bit easier to ask for recommendations when you have experience engaging with them in either real life or virtually. I would say since we all know that referrals are the way to go in the job hunt, finding ways to make connections is something that is really important for everyone in the job market.
I use [Twitter] in a few different ways. I use it to find news day-to-day on venture capital, and more recently in the last year, I use it to connect with a lot of other individuals who work in tech, specifically the venture capital industry. It's a great platform to not only socially connect but also professionally connect and become very comfortable reaching out to people, responding to people, sliding into people's DMs.
I've had interviews from people I've met on Twitter and job opportunities from people who really needed mentors, so I highly recommend investing time in creating a Twitter profile and building it out to see who is out there.
Build your network from the beginning
I would say that it's important to network and build your professional brand and social capital as something that needs to be done always and not just when you're looking for a job. Because if you prioritize it — prioritize building connections that are genuine and not just reaching out to someone when you need something — when you actually do need something it will feel much less out of the blue.
Get organized — especially if you're juggling different professional ventures
I've had a difficult time balancing [her full-time job and BWC] at first. I really had to take a step back and understand that I have different skills and experiences from my full-time job versus my side hustle, and at the end of the day, my full-time job is my main priority.
So I have been very strategic about using different tools — like Slack, Asana, and Notion — to segment my work week so that I am working on BWC only Monday through Wednesday, and I am able to take breaks from it Thursday through Sunday.
I would recommend for other entrepreneurs who have a side hustle or various entrepreneurial projects outside of a full-time job to find ways to segment their time because it can be really easy for everything to mesh together. Also, understand the goal you have for each project so that in moments it feels really tough or looks like you're not making any progress, you can reference back to something to show how far you've come and the ways you still have to go to achieve your goal.
Ask for what you want
Specifically for women of color, I think that it's really important to be forward, reaching out for what you want and asking for what you want.
It can feel intimidating being in spaces where you might be the only person who looks like yourself, or maybe you don't identify with your environment. There's a lot of pressure to change those spaces, but I think the biggest thing is to show up each and every day as your authentic self and to find confidence in that process.
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And Singh's next steps? Tapping into some Elle Woods-style application magic as she applies to MBA programs — while still continuing to be a boss woman, of course.
The other key to a successful job search? A resume that showcases your strengths and achievements. Our writers can help.
*Hero image is taken from the @bosswomencollective.*