Ask any successful person how they landed their dream job, and they’ll likely tell you a tale of long years spent working their way up one ladder or another. Digital Arts & Design and Entertainment Business master’s grad Crystal Annick is no exception. She’s young, talented, and has worked with some of the biggest names in hip hip and R&B. In her current role as a Digital Producer and Webmaster for iHeartMedia, Crystal manages digital properties for the company’s Miami market, including web content, social media, and apps.
“This story is one that I always like telling,” says Crystal. “When I first saw the job posting, I didn’t immediately apply for it because they were asking for a certain amount of experience— six or seven years’s worth— that I didn’t have. I’d never worked for a major company before. But I had my portfolio, and I had a lot of freelance work. Something kept pulling me back to that job posting. Finally, I sent my portfolio in, and a few weeks later I got the call to come in for the interview.”
Despite her lack of corporate experience, the people at iHeartMedia recognized Crystal’s depth of knowledge when it comes to maintaining a brand. It’s something she’s been cultivating since high school. A longtime fan of underground hip hop, Crystal found herself frustrated by a lack of information when it came to some of her favorite artists. During her senior year, she decided to create a site devoted to a then unknown artist by the name of Nicki Minaj.
“I call it my Mona Lisa,” Crystal laughs.
The site caught Minaj’s attention during a time when she had yet to establish her own official home on the web. Since Crystal’s fan site had already amassed a following, Minaj used it to promote appearances. The two met when Minaj came through Miami later that year on a tour with Lil Wayne. Meeting Minaj was more than the culmination of years of fandom for Crystal, it was a moment that brought all of her goals into sharp focus.
“She was the first person to tell me that what I was doing was actually good. When the site came out, I was only 18. I wouldn’t say it’s my best work, but it definitely sealed the fact that I was good enough to treat this as more than a hobby.”
Working with Minaj led to freelance projects with other artists, such as Mindless Behavior, Dondria, and Russell Simmons’ Global Grind. It inspired her to start a website where she profiles new artists and shares news from the world of hip hop and R&B. Now, Crystal translates the skills she developed working on her own site and freelance projects to the work she’s doing for iHeartMedia.
“For [the job with iHeartMedia], they wanted someone who’s connected and knows what’s going on outside of the company. My personal brand has always been about staying in the loop, so that helps me know what content can be placed in different markets, whether it’s urban, variety, or pop.”
Crystal says her personal brand is still a high priority, and that she sets aside an hour or two each day to maintain CrystalAnnick.com. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also something she sees as an essential part of maintaining her professional edge.
“There’s a saying that I try to live my life by that goes, ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.’ iHeart is actually one of the five companies I had on my dream list of companies to work for, so to have just graduated and find myself working for them, that’s pretty major to me.”