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When Sree Sreenivasan found himself out of a job, he did what he knows how to do best: broadcast the news on social media. The former Chief Digital Officer at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art filled his schedule with networking meetings. Special correspondent Roben Farzad looks at what Sreenivasan's experience can teach us about finding employment in the digital age.
This week, a former news reporter and professor, Sree Sreenivasan, was named chief digital officer for New York City. It's the culmination of a very public job search Srinivasan embarked on just last month.
Special correspondent Roben Farzad looks at what Sreenivasan's experience could teach the rest of us. It's part of our series Making Sense, which airs Thursdays on the "NewsHour."
At 7:00 a.m. in New York's Riverside Park, Digital Guru Sree Sreenivasan was walking his beagle mix, Tara. But this was also an early morning networking session.
SREE SREENIVASAN, Former Chief Digital Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art: What's one thing you have learned from the other places you're able to apply here?
I think finding your key influencers and your largest audience.
Four days earlier, Sreenivasan lost his job as chief digital officer at New York's financially strained Metropolitan Museum of Art.
After three amazing years, I will be leaving The Met on June 30.
It was a career low point that his network knew all about because he himself broadcast the news on social media. "If you want to invite me to anything," he wrote, "I now have time, including for meaningful cups of coffee and drinks. I would also love to go walking with anyone available."
And I gave people this form, which might have been the funniest thing, where people could go in and give me suggestions on what to do.
Over 1,000 people sent advice.
Visit with our camera club. Go fishing. Rescue Twitter. Start a social media consulting firm.
Vacation first, then host your own TV show.
All the good TV shows are taken, so there's no chance.
His Facebook post got almost 500 comments, including some job offers. Sreenivasan turned them down.
People may not always know what's the right thing, but they want to help.
Sreenivasan is prolific online. He taught social media at Columbia Journalism School for years. And while radical transparency is all the rage these days, even he was reluctant to take his plight public.
Oh, I didn't want to do this. I had no interest in talking about myself in a moment of weakness, as it is right now. My goal was to get a job.
Tell us about the most memorable or audacious overtures people have made to you.
I have been really touched by the folks who have said, including one of my friends who said, I can't hire you full-time, but I have a single day of consulting money, and will you come speak to us on July 21?
And it was so meaningful. And I had someone drop off a pair of Nike shoes because they heard that I want to go on a walk.
Someone even sent money.
"Sree, I am sending this check in case you run out of rice, noodles, lentils or dollars."
I mean, who does that? That is such a generous gesture.
At home with his wife, Roopa, a consultant, and their family, Sreenivasan was trying to capitalize on that good will.
Former chief digital officer of The Met.
Working the phone.
Sorry. Thanks for holding. I'm just checking my calendar.
Lunch with a former colleague at Columbia Journalism School.
What is your advice for people when they stumble?
It happens to all of us. People use it as an opportunity to grow.
And miles of walking and talking.
I have to take every phone call, every lunch, every coffee that I can take and my days are booked from 7:15 in the morning until late at night.
So he was connecting with as many people as possible.
Do you feel like people are surprised to know that a New Yorker cartoonist needs to reinvent herself?
A walk with cartoonist Liza Donnelly became an impromptu Facebook Live session.
With an audience of over 2,000.
Folks, just tell us where you're watching from, and hit share right now on Facebook, so your friends, family, enemies can join us.
The theme of the day? Reinvention.
Lauren says, "How does one reinvent themselves while working in the same craft?"
LIZA DONNELLY, Cartoonist:
I try to push my limits and use different tools.
Actually, these are subway drawings that I did on my phone. It's a little boy looking out the window. I sit there with my finger and draw.
I think reinvention, and you're an example of this, is that it's reinventing not who you are, but how you do your work, your processes, getting the word out. You have to do this when you don't need to do it.
Granted, Sreenivasan is a high-profile, highly networked figure, such a mainstay on Twitter that he even gave his job search a hashtag, #sree3oh.
But what about the vast majority of jobless who lack Sreenivasan's resources and know-how?
KATRINA SEALS RUIZ, Event Manager:
I just want to find the right position for me.
Katrina Seals Ruiz recently learned her event management position would be cut in a bank merger.
Are you in a position to do what Sree is doing, in that opening it up really, truly to the world, leaving nothing a secret?
KATRINA SEALS RUIZ:
I would never think to post on Facebook. He already has that relationship with the social media space. And I don't think I have that relationship yet. I'm still kind of dabbling in it.
So her news would reach just 250 friends on Facebook, compared to Sreenivasan's 5,000. She's new to Twitter. Her dozen or so followers are dwarfed by Sreenivasan's 80,000.
Have you had any unsolicited job offers yet?
No. No unsolicited job offers. I would welcome that greatly.
But Seals Ruiz is working the connections she has, even contacting professionals she doesn't know on LinkedIn.
I have no problem using LinkedIn as an InMail reaching out to folks. For example, when I started this job search, I reached out to one of those people that I had InMailed, and she happened to say — "Katrina," she said, "you're not going to believe this, but I just mentioned your name."
I hadn't spoken to her in months. She didn't have a job for me, but we just had a great conversation.
And like Sreenivasan, she's taking every appointment.
It's great to sit down with you now. I wish it was under different circumstances.
Laura Kottkamp directs corporate relations at Virginia Commonwealth University's Business School, near Katrina's home base in Richmond.
LAURA KOTTKAMP, Virginia Commonwealth University Business School:
You could look at the same industry, which would be talking to other banks. Then I would recommend that we put you in touch with some people that are in, say, an I.T. company.
I really — it think you have had some really great suggestions and recommendations that I will definitely utilize.
It's tiring, I think.
It's exhausting. It's discouraging, too, I mean, because you know I feel like I'm a big deal.
We think that too.
And, you know, so I'm like, how come they don't see that?
Seals Ruiz is working hard to get her name out there.
In the meantime, she's drawing on another talent, performing at private events.
The next several months, it might be what I rely on, just depending on how things work out with my job search.
She travels to New York regularly for gigs. So we hooked her up with Sreenivasan, who was walking with a friend.
People want to help you. And your friends want to help you. But 99 percent of the time, they have no idea what you actually do and what you can do.
I have had very good friends say, well, what can you actually do? So, making something simple that can be forwarded to somebody, very useful, very important.
Back at home, Sreenivasan hoped more people could learn from his experience.
If you are working right now, don't be complacent. Make sure that you use this opportunity to build out your network, to continue to build the digital skills that are relevant to your industry, your kind of work now, because one of the things we have learned is that jobs come and go.
And you have — but your network never leaves. I tell people that it's too late to figure out Twitter when the plane has just landed on the Hudson. It's too late to figure out LinkedIn when your company starts having layoffs.
Yes, I should. Yes.
Sree, for his part, starts his new job with New York City this fall.
Katrina is still looking. But she refuses to sing the blues. Hit her up on Twitter or LinkedIn if you know of something.
For the "PBS NewsHour" I'm Roben Farzad in New York.
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