In a world where we're taught to question everything we're told through the media, it's hard for a generation of people defined by authenticity to find a place where they can read about their world from a personal perspective.
Just before the start of my senior year of college, I had this nagging feeling of being particularly out of tune with my ambitions. Like many young adults, I felt I wasn't doing enough with my life.
There was a void in need of filling.
As fate would have it, I got an email from an Elite Daily employee two weeks before going back to Penn State.
The email stated that Elite Daily was building a campus ambassador program at three universities (my school being one of them), and it was looking for one person on each campus to help spearhead the initiative.
As the year went on and I became more involved with the ambassador program, that nagging void started to fade, and my life seemed a lot clearer. After I graduated from college, I started working at Elite Daily as the college programming coordinator in July 2015. The site provided me with a platform to express my passions and beliefs and satisfy my insatiable desire to be heard by many.
There are a handful of Elite Daily employees, like myself, who started off by trying to fill a void, a nagging feeling that they weren't doing enough. Becoming a contributing writer for the site helped us feel like we were finally doing something more.
Here are some of the experiences our contributors (who later became employees) have had:
When I moved to NYC, it was difficult to have my voice heard. I was freelancing for a corporate TV station, where my only creative choice was how to arrange snacks. I started a blog, but I wanted to reach more people. While waitressing on the side, I began writing more articles on receipt paper in my server book. My article, 'Server Not Servants: 31 Things Your Waiter Wishes You Knew,' received 600,000 shares. I told my contributing manager I was really interested in working for their video team, and I got an interview within the month. I am now a producer and star in a weekly series with a portfolio of anything from mini documentaries to comedy sketches.
— Kelley Lord, producer, 24
The day after I graduated a semester early from USF (San Francisco, not South Florida), I learned you should never, ever graduate early. Really, stay as long as you can. When my favorite professor asked me what I wanted to do, I told him, "I don't know. Walk dogs and write short stories?" If you can make that work you should do it, he said. With his okay, that's literally what I did. I walked a slew of poodles. I interned at an occult and self-help publisher. Most recently, I taught drunk people how to paint sunsets while wearing a headset mic. It was fabulous. The whole time I wrote -- short stories, flash fiction, essays, a few very bad novels. I gained experiences and had more to write about. I started a blog to quell the terror that my life was going absolutely nowhere. Little did I know someone out there might be looking at my blog, and that's basically how I ended up here with my adult, dope job at Elite Daily. Though feeling like an adult still hasn't kicked in yet. Kinda doubt it ever will.
— Kate Ryan, trending news writer, 24
Not long after I finished graduate school, I started a blog. It had only been a few weeks since I turned in my master's thesis, but I really missed writing. I had no idea if it would lead to anything, but it was something to do and I found it fulfilling. One day I wrote an article about Millennials and how they will change American politics for the better. I randomly decided to tweet it at Elite Daily. It just so happened the CEO of Elite Daily, David Arabov, was manning the site's Twitter account at the time. He read the article and tweeted back, asking if I wanted ED to publish it. I was ecstatic and immediately replied, "Yes!" For the next several months I was a contributing writer for Elite Daily, covering an array of issues. I never expected to be offered a full-time job, but one day I got an email about an opportunity as a politics writer for Elite. Two weeks later I moved to New York from DC and began working for Elite Daily full-time. I picked up my entire life for Elite Daily and moved to the Big Apple, and it was one of the best choices I've ever made.
— John Haltiwanger, senior politics writer, 27
I started contributing for Elite Daily after I graduated from college while losing my mind from the struggles of the job search. An article I wrote "10 Reasons Why Life Simply Wouldn't Be The Same Without Our Cousins" got 229,000 shares and over 440,000 views, which ultimately helped launch my career. At the time I was actually looking for a photo role, but since no photo-related openings were posted on the site, I decided to apply as a writer. I got extremely lucky because it just so happened that they were in need of a photo editor. Now I get to fulfill both of my passions of writing and photography while earning a pretty paycheck.
— Jessica Wendroff, associate photo editor, 23
While I was in college, I was looking for a website where I could showcase some of my written comedic projects. I submitted a piece to Elite Daily, which I knew about simply from their reputation as being a site that gave their authors a lot of creative freedom, and it was accepted. The piece was published a few days later and I became an instant celebrity. To this day I am still the most famous person I know. A few years and several writing internships later, I found myself looking for full-time employment as a writer and came across a job listing at Elite Daily. I applied, of course, and a few weeks later I started my tenure here as a full-time trending news writer. I can say with complete confidence that Elite Daily is one of the most creative environments I have ever worked in, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that working as a writer here has given me. What do I do now? .... Follow me on Twitter, @EitanTheGoalie, and find out.
— Eitan Levine, trending news writer, 26
I was working in California as a strength and conditioning intern at Stanford University. On my weekends I would travel around California, taking photos of my journey. I ended up getting in touch with Elite Daily through a friend to be a contributing photographer for the site. While I finished up my internship, I continued to send them my photos. When I got back to the East Coast, being a contributor snowballed into a job opportunity. Now I'm 24 years old, and have been working for Elite Daily since February 2015 as a formatting coordinator.
— Sepp Dasbach, senior photo editor, 24
I started out as an Elite Daily contributor because I loved the site. It was 2014, and I was a senior in college who needed clips. The first piece I wrote, 'The 10 Things You Realize By The Time You're 22' did really well on the site. My next article, '14 Things I've Learned From A Life Of Poverty' put me on ED's radar. I applied for a job through the site. I was recognized for my articles and brought in to interview. I got the job as an editorial assistant in April while finishing school. Since then, I've become a full-time writer, helping to grow the sex and love verticals, and most recently I've branched into branded content. It's been a wild ride. None of it would have happened if I hadn't decided to contribute my stories in the first place.
— Gigi Engle, senior writer and branded content strategist, 25
At a meet up with some friends, I ran into a friend who I've done stand-up comedy with. He told me Elite Daily was looking for writers and thought I'd be a good fit. I've written a ton about dating in the past for Hello Giggles, Popsugar, etc., so I was excited for the opportunity.
He connected me with Claudia. I sent her links to my articles, stand-up and videos. She got back to me connected me with George at the Elite Daily Show (which I didn't even know was a thing -- I thought I was just applying to write an article about how penises are funny). I talked to George and wrote an article about how I recently found out my mother was married before my dad. I had my Elite Daily Show audition; they read and loved the article and now I write and host the Elite Daily Show and still contribute to the site.
Gabi Conti, host of The Elite Daily Show, 28
I started contributing for the site in December 2014, and I continued to do so until I was hired in June of 2015. I began a blog about finding love called 'Curryous American' because last winter, I was going through a horrible heartbreak. It felt cathartic to write about my feelings and experiences, so I kept doing it. I realized how much I loved connecting with an audience who was going through the same things I was, and how much I loved to write about love. When I started working with Elite, I was essentially able to keep doing what I was doing, except with a talented group of writers and editors and for a way larger platform. I have already grown so much here, and I look forward to continue to grow both with the company and through my own writing skills.
— Sheena Sharma, feature writer, 25
I started contributing at Elite Daily my senior year of college because I liked the site and, honestly, I needed more clips for my portfolio before I started applying for jobs. My first article to do really well on the site was '70 Lies My Drunk Self Told Me,' and what was so great about that is I remember having a blast writing it. My friends and I all sat around joking about the stupid sh*t we've convinced ourselves to do when we were hammered and BOOM! That conversation spiraled into an article that has been shared over 30,000 times. Then I wrote an article about my best friend, Ben. '14 Reasons Why Having A Guy Best Friend Is Better Than A Boyfriend' ended up having over 300,000 shares, and that's when I knew there were a lot of people in Elite Daily's audience who could relate to my own personal experiences. I applied online and was offered a job as a featured editorial writer a week after my college graduation. Now I get to have fun writing about my own personal experiences every single day, and I'm lucky enough to call it my job.
— Candice Jalili, feature writer, 22
I started contributing to Elite Daily in August of 2012 after reaching out to a friend on Facebook who was involved with the site. I began writing weekly humor articles and eventually asked for the opportunity to produce and host man on the street videos. About 15 articles and four videos later, I was asked to come on full-time in 2013 as the first humor editor and spearhead the launch of the humor vertical on the site. Three years later, I am now the executive producer of video, leading a talented team of bright filmmakers and creatives, producing engaging daily video content for the site.
— Tyler Gildin, executive producer, 26
I started contributing to Elite Daily in October of 2012 right before we all thought the world would end. It didn't. I had just graduated from my master's program and was absolutely terrified I would never find a job. I started writing and I couldn't stop; it was wonderful and frightening that people could love -- and also really, really hate -- what I wrote. By January of 2013, I was hired as a full-time editor and eventually made my way into the editor-in-chief role. If that's not a contributing success story, I don't know what is.
— Kaitlyn Cawley, editor-in-chief, 26
College is the time to try out new things, and in the process of doing so, you never know where it could lead you. If there's a nagging voice in your head that won't stay quiet, or something you need to get off your chest, know there's always a place where you can share what you're feeling.
There's comfort in knowing you're not alone.