“Punch first, ask questions later.”
This is some of the advice Mercedes Vizcaino, Photography Editor for All You Magazine and the Media Arts Department’s Food for Thought Lecture Series’ guest speaker, said she received from her parents that helped her throughout her career in the cutthroat media world.
Vizcaino, a native of New York, began working for a surgeon at age 13. When she went to college, she initially thought she wanted to do something in medicine but soon realized that working in the media might be a better fit. She started as an intern at Warner Bros., where she was responsible for getting opinions of college students on productions before they debuted. While interning there, she had her first experiences with celebrities, something that proved to be a major part of her career for a long time.
Immediately after graduating from Brooklyn College with a Communications degree, Vizcaino began working for Turner Broadcasting. When she declined an offer to move to the West Coast, she soon found herself without a job. For a number of years, she worked a series of temp jobs around the New York City area, including jobs at a hospital, law firms, and an early Internet start-up.
“Get as many skills as you can,” Vizcaino advised students. “Because I had skills in web development and in writing, these places kind of took a chance on me.”
After working in a number of different fields, which, in time, led her more and more into photography, she found her current job for Time, Inc. Since beginning her work at All You, Vizcaino has earned her Master’s in Creative Writing and has begun work on a photography book of Cuba, where both her parents were born.
Through her experiences with a number of different jobs in the media field, Vizcaino has also learned many valuable lessons, which she relayed to Post students.
“Even if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you have to fake it ‘til you make it,” she told lecture-goers. “You have to project that you know what you’re talking about.” Students, she said, should take advantage of the resources their school offers and, when it’s necessary, they not be afraid to ask for help.
“I think what she said about resourcefulness was especially important,” said Sandra Mardenfeld, Director of the LIU Post Journalism program and one of the organizers of the Food for Thought lecture series. “Whatever was thrown her way, she always figured out a way to fulfill her assignment or find the next position.”
The next Food for Thought lecture will take place on Wednesday, April 4th. Co-sponsored by the Public Relations department, it will feature A.J. Carter, Public Information Officer in the Town of Huntington and former Associate Editor for Business at Newsday.