The Path profiles people working in what we think of as “dream jobs,” living their best professional life, and looks at the people and practices that helped get them there. We talk to these amazing folks about how goal setting, great leadership, tough decisions, and other key moments helped them get to where they are now. And, because so many career paths are inherently winding, we examine what it can look like to handle unexpected experiences along the way.
Besides introducing the concept of “swiping left” or “swiping right” into everyday culture and vocabulary, Tinder reshaped what it meant to date and connect in the modern world the moment it first came onto the scene in 2012. Today, there are billions of “swipes” on Tinder every single day—with over 30 billion matches to date—and the app is used in over 196 countries around the world.
Tinder continues to play a role in shaping culture and making waves in both dating and tech scenes, and as Tinder’s Associate Creative Director, Kristin Collins Jackson has a hand in shaping this culture both externally and internally. Here, Kristin opens up about her path to the company, how a layoff helped redirect her career path and bring her to her current role, and how she is staying inspired while working in quarantine, and what she thinks the future of work holds.
What did you go to school for and what did you think you wanted to do at that time in your life?
I graduated from the University of Hartford with a degree in Advertising and strong hopes of being a writer. When I graduated, I don’t think I really understood the industry at all, but I knew I loved writing and longed to do something creative.
Can you give me the ‘Spark’s Notes’ version of your career history so far?
I was laid off from my first job. It was a small B2B branding agency and by the time I had moved to NYC, the 2008 recession was rippling through my industry and it felt impossible to find work in my field. I finally found work in project management: It was as thankless as it was tedious, but it gave me some important organizational skills that many creatives, in my experience, tend to lack.
Writing for Bustle was a turning point for me in my career. I quit my low-paying, yet stable job and returned to bartending to supplement my income. While covering culture and beauty, I continued to pitch my work: Getting published in the New York Times was a huge deal for me. I remember reading the article on my phone as I shoved pizza in my mouth over the trash can in the breakroom at my bar gig. I had finally made it, so why was I eating over a trash can still? I was frustrated with the glass ceiling in media, the low pay, and the exploitation of marginalized groups. I started to look at other forms of writing that I enjoyed. Freelancing with advertising agencies was like coming home: I realized that I was hungry to be back in my field. Every decision I made from that point forward was about getting paid to write copy.
How did you end up getting hired for the position you’re currently in?
I started as a copywriter at Tinder two and a half years ago. I applied for the position on LinkedIn. I submitted my sample writing piece and within a couple weeks I had the job. It sounds a LOT easier than it is. The reality is that I applied for a minimum of 3 jobs every day for five months. I kept a detailed spreadsheet to keep track of the companies, roles, and hiring managers and got rejected on a daily basis. Even though it was hard, I feel more confident in my role because I know I deserve to be here. I worked for it, I didn’t know someone in the company or have an in. I was just the most qualified person for the job — and that feels great.
What are some daily habits you absolutely make sure to schedule into your day?
I do yoga every day as a rule. During quarantine, I’ve been breaking up my routine with a little dance cardio in the mornings and yoga in the evenings.
What do you love most about the work you do?
I love writing. I’m not going to say that it’s the only thing I can do, but it’s the only thing I want to do.
Tell me about someone who’s made a significant impact on your career trajectory.
My first editor at Bustle, the person who brought me on, was critical to my success. I needed someone to take a chance on me. I didn’t have a fancy education from a top tier school and I didn’t have a lot of experience, but I knew I could write and I just needed someone to believe that I could do the job. She nurtured my voice and helped me develop technical writing skills that I was important to develop my personal writing style.
What’s been the biggest learning lesson in your career so far?
I’ve learned a lot about integrity from a boss that mentored me. I learned that how you conduct yourself is just as important as the work you do. Being humble, open, and honest makes you easy to get along with and everyone wants to work with people they get along with. Being difficult serves no purpose, but rather being flexible can provide a better experience and room for innovation and growth.
What do you think makes a good leader?
A good leader serves their team. They are fair and accountable. They can anticipate and meet the needs of their team and respect their individual trades while championing for their growth and career development.
How do you approach difficult conversations with a team/other colleagues?
Directly and empathetically. No one likes to be told about themselves; sometimes one has to massage an ego when having difficult conversations to resolve conflict effectively. Sometimes one has to code switch and play politics. Regardless, it’s best for me to address things sooner rather than later. One person’s problem could have a ripple effect—the longer a problem is unaddressed by a leader, the more likely it is to spiral into gossip.
Work culture looks completely different than it did even a month ago, how are you adjusting? And what practices are helping you stay centered amidst increased uncertainty and anxiety?
I always make time to move around, whether it’s a walk outside for some fresh air or a quick yoga practice. It helps break up the day and tap into my creative juices.
Today, industries and culture are evolving more rapidly than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing revolution in the fight for racial justice. Has your personal relationship to work changed? If so, how?
It’s hard to stay inspired when you’re working from a one-bedroom apartment, but you learn to find inspiration in the little things beyond watching the paint grow old on your walls. I think being separated from my team is the most challenging: We were so spoiled to be able to ideate just by having lunch together. You have to make an effort now. You have to anticipate and plan that you’re going to need to be in the room together to concept. Some of the best concepts I’ve thought of have happened by accident, but it doesn’t seem like that’s possible now. Every idea is on purpose in some way because you have to put in work to be inspired. Again, this is where moving around becomes essential.
What do you think managers and leaders need to be doing to create better workplaces as we move forward from this moment?
It’s harder to stay connected to your team and your work during this time; providing opportunities to foster a sense of connectivity is essential nourishment for the team. Create workshops during downtime or make up an exciting project that may not move the business needle, but can help unite and inspire the team. And pay attention to the individual as much as the team, it’s easy for the quiet people to suffer in silence — make sure each person knows who’s in their corner and what their value is.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Save your money, you may need it one day to buy happiness.
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