Amy Lust is a Senior Digital Training Associate in the Station, Products, and Innovation group at PBS. In a very short time, she’s moved up the ranks and is excelling in her current position. But her current line of work was not her option A.
“I wanted to be in the arts,” Lust explains. “I wanted to be running a gallery.” Lust earned a graduate degree in Arts Management in 2011. In school, she interned at PBS before finding her dream job working as a curator at the Lorton Art Foundation. When an insufficient budget at the gallery led to the loss of that job, she found her way back to PBS. “I came back as a temp because I have rent. I have bills to pay,” she laughs. “Who doesn’t?”
In her current role, Lust works with local stations on their digital strategies and helps to troubleshoot and train station personnel to leverage PBS’s suite of digital offerings. It’s a position in which she’s found synergies with the strengths she discovered back in undergrad.
Amy excels in roles where she supports those who do the work. “In undergrad, I had dreams of being a photographer,” Lust remembers. But she quickly discovered that producing art wasn’t what she wanted. She wants to support artists. “I realized I love helping bring it all together, doing the pre-planning, executing, and helping people to do their best work.”
Though she imagined it looking a little differently, that’s what she’s doing at PBS. Today the support she gives ranges from answering very technical questions about digital tools to helping stations with their Google Analytics. She works in a business-to-business capacity, behind the scenes. Her goal is to help stations become more visible digitally.
Currently, she’s building relationships with individuals at roughly 100 local PBS stations. From station to station her contact/point person varies. “There’s a joke in Public Broadcasting,” she laughs. “When you’ve been to one station, you’ve been to one station.” She may interface with upper management or an intern that just joined the team. The variety keeps her on her toes and means lots of pre-preparation.
All these interactions are helping her to become more assertive and confident professionally. “I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or a female thing, or maybe it’s my Midwestern ‘polite and respectful’ mentality, but I’m trying to find a balance. I’m working on sharing my opinion even when I’m not asked.” Amy is focused on changing her mindset. She’s evolving from a passive place of asking for “permission” to an active role of initiating a discussion about a project she wants to move forward. It’s a subtle but powerful distinction.
Lust admits that she’s gotten where she is by saying, “Yes.” After returning to PBS as a temp, she’s worked hard to secure permanent and meaningful employment there. As assignments ended, she kept saying yes to new ones until an opportunity opened up where she wanted to be permanently.
Her advice, “Even if you don’t think you’ll like a project—you’ll never know what you’re going to get out of it if you don’t say yes. You never know what’s going to happen, who you’re going to meet, what skills you’re going to gain. And with the new knowledge you gain you can eventually get to a position or a place you’d rather be.” That’s what she’s done at PBS in a very short time.
So what about that option A? Lust says, “The arts will never leave me. Whatever you love and are passionate about, that will never leave you—even if you can’t earn a living in it.” Amy still takes photographs that chronicle her life, travel, and work. (Follow along at #amyonthego) But for her, option A is shifting. She’s found success in option B. “I am fighting hard for option B. I want this, and I want it so badly now that I’m in it, that it’s becoming my option A.”