In 2016, Bianca Jeanty and Netta Dobbins started a group chat as a way to satisfy their mutual desire to connect with marginalized young professionals in the media industry. It was never supposed to turn into an actual business — until it did.
"In less than a week of its creation, we had over 300 people in the chat talking about their experiences in the media industry," Dobbins told POPSUGAR via email. "Topics ranged from people getting their foot in the door at companies [to] them being continually looked over for promotions and being tokened as some of the only people of color in the office."
For Jeanty and Dobbins, who both work in New York City in ad sales and public relations, respectively, the chat's rapid growth — paired, of course, with the lack of diversity in the industry — signaled that they had something bigger on their hands. "This was the moment we knew there was a real problem in the industry and set out to establish what Mimconnect was," Dobbins added.
Three years later and that group chat, now a company known as Minorities in Media Connect (Mimconnect), has transformed into a trusted career-building resource for over 4,000 job seekers and others simply looking to network. It's a huge feat, yes, but getting there wasn't a walk in the park. "We didn't realize how difficult it was until we were neck-deep into building the company," Dobbins said. "Like we said before, we never planned to make Mimconnect an actual business. It just happened. And with that we had so many people leveraging Mimconnect to build relationships and collaborate with one another that we couldn't just stop and fade into the background."
An assemblage of journalists, publicists, graphic designers, advertisers, and more, Mimconnect provides media professionals in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco with a network to discuss company culture, job-hunting strategies, and happenings in pop culture and the media industry. On the employer front, Mimconnect is launching their beta platform in March that allows companies to promote their latest openings, while finding leads through the group's candidate directory. Though they don't discourage anyone from seeking membership, a good amount of Mimconnect's focus appears to be on the career trajectory of mid-level professionals.
Because less than a quarter of the media industry is composed of people of color, there's a disparity when it comes to building that network.
"As you grow and mature in your career, you begin to get opportunities based on who you know and the professional network you've built," Dobbins explained. "Because less than a quarter of the media industry is composed of people of color, there's a disparity when it comes to building that network. When you're fresh out of college, you have all of these resources at your disposal to get internships or entry-level jobs. But what happens when you become mid- or senior-level? The developmental resources at the Manager and Director level are limited."
To strengthen those resources, Mimconnect hosts digital and in-person events at least once a month in addition to producing their own career advice-focused content online. Their advice to young people of color finding it difficult to navigate and build relationships in their predominately white work spaces is simple: stay true to who you are.
"Sometimes when we're uncomfortable in a space, we'll quickly conform to whatever that space normalizes . . . like being forced to talk about The Bachelor when you have never seen the show and you don't even enjoy it," Dobbins said. "Realize that by bringing your whole self to work day in and day out, you bring a perspective that no one else has."
Jeanty added, "There's a narrative about not making friends in the workplace, but I strongly believe in finding your champion that you can feel safe with and someone who will serve as a contextual soundboard. Your external support reminds you of your 'why' and the mission you've set out to complete."