Elite Careers: Sexpert
Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright, Astroglide Sexual Health and Wellness Ambassador, is a noted international sexologist, sex educator, author, relationship expert, advice columnist and television and radio personality.
She holds a Ph.D. in International Community Health Studies from New York University and is the author of nine books regarding sexuality and relationships. To sign up for Yvonne’s daily tips on enhancing sexual satisfaction, and to read an informative Q&A section, visit her webpage.
What does your day/week/month usually consist of? Give us the run through of a typical day (if there is one).
Every month, I write weekly sex/relationship tips for Astroglide.com, as well as a monthly article. I field questions web browsers submit via the website, as well as talk to journalists seeking to talk to Astroglide’s sex/relationship expert for popular press articles. In addition to my Astroglide.com responsibilities, I write a monthly Q&A column for Cosmopolitan, teach at American University (plus online for Penn State and Argosy University), and scribe articles for sites like psychologytoday.com. I’m often, too, working on a book project (have had nine books published) or members of the press on various sex and relationships matters.
How did you become interested in this industry?
When I was in 6th grade, I gave a presentation on the female reproductive system, conception and menstruation, and my classmates’ eyes were the size of saucers! I loved that I felt comfortable doing something (talking about the “birds and bees”) that most people couldn’t do. Even though I’d never heard of Dr. Ruth or the profession of sexuality education, I knew I’d found my calling.
What was your first job in the field? How did you get it/what was the application process like?
I was a presenter on alcohol and sexual assault awareness for incoming first-years as part of Penn State’s Freshmen Testing, Counseling & Advising Program. The following school year, as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, I got my first paid position in the field as a teaching assistant for a human sexuality course.
What is the best business/career advice you’ve ever received?
An editor at W Magazine followed up on a columnist pitch I sent her, calling me to say, “Write a book; get yourself published.”
What do you suggest to 20-somethings aspiring to get involved in your field?
Be prepared to create your own opportunities. You need to be willing to hustle and network and educate people about what you have to offer that’s unique from what others in related fields may be able to do. Also, make sure that you get legitimately qualified in the field; don’t be a self-proclaimed sexpert, who simply relies on his/her sex life for juice. Many of the people looking to hire you for gigs will be turned off in realizing that you don’t have the creds – so get them! You can gain experience as a peer health advocate, through professional organizations like AASECT, as a volunteer with a local agency, an internship…
What is the most important thing to know about your job?
Protect yourself by having good rationale (backed by data) to explain your professional stance on something, whether you’re drafting curriculum, teaching a workshop or giving expert opinion. Opponents to your efforts are willing to attack you and you need to have a good defense.
What is the biggest misconception about your work?
People tend to think that sex experts have done everything in bed, and that they’re willing to do anything!
Are there perks to your position/job? Any downfalls? Tell us about it!
Perks: I’ve had some really neat, unique experiences, like getting to go on Today Show and meeting people like Tyra Banks. There is a thrill with holding your book (especially your first!) in your hands or seeing your name/picture in a magazine. Downfalls: At the same time, with good PR comes attention you may not want, especially privacy concerns. I’ve had issues with stalkers (guys often think that they already know you) and have been harassed by people who don’t like what sexologists do, e.g., I’ve received emails telling me I’m going to hell. With my Foxnews.com gig, I learned to grow a thick skin really fast when the column first launched and some readers were upset that the website went the sex column route.
Are there internships/entry level job openings currently available? Where can readers find more information?
With the recession, a number of entry level jobs have become internships. This would be at organizations like SIECUS and Advocates for Youth. Planned Parenthood is a popular option for people in the field looking for experience.
Anything else you’d like to add!
Depending on what you want to do, it’s great to get experience in journalism, especially in landing opportunities in that genre. Make sure to market yourself, establishing a niche that makes you the go to in an area that isn’t saturated with other experts. Have a mission statement that guides you, especially with the personal brand you want to create.
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Hilary Sheinbaum | Elite.