Culture, Career, Hope: Interview with Sarah Dilworth

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melibee003In this edition of our series on finding that perfect career across cultures, we introduce to you the work of Sarah Dilworth.  Sarah is the founder of Dilpatrick Media and her advice about traversing the road of self employment is empowering!

Melibee: You’re a Melibee and a business owner too. Tell us how and why you decided to start your own hive.

Sarah: It was a combination of my department being consolidated and therefore losing my job, having free time to write, and, honestly, trying to make some supplemental income while job hunting. So I signed up for a freelance site and made a few contacts on there. Then a colleague of mine was given an opportunity to write for a travel/state tourism publication, was overwhelmed with other deadlines, and threw it my way. It has snowballed from there. I realized that small business owners are so busy running their businesses, that they do not always have the time or know-how needed to devote to crafting a social media presence or any sort of consistent marketing. So I’ve put my knowledge of social media marketing and knack for writing to work.

Sarah's brand logo
Sarah’s logo

Melibee: What skills have you learned at the Melibee hive that help you as an entrepreneur?

Sarah: Aside from the obvious, my role as the Marketing Bee for Melibee had me honing in on my previously underutilized social media, blogging, marketing, and (limited) design skills. Being part of something so organic as Melibee has really influenced so many things in my life. Witnessing how Missy grew a simple, authentic blog into a multifaceted, globally-recognized business that holds true to its values is so inspiring. Working with Missy and the hive has taught me the importance of relationships and collaboration. Working in that virtual manner has prepared me (and spoiled me) for working in my own, location-independent, time, while collaborating with the virtual hive across time zones and oceans in our rhizomatic fashion has taught me flexibility and to be OK with an unexpected turn in a project. Something completely foreign to me several years ago.

On the more techy side, the project management, email marketing, graphic design, social media management apps and tools we use at Melibee have really made the transition to entrepreneur seamless.

Melibee: What tips would you offer to anyone who is thinking about entrepreneurship vs. applying to work for someone else?

Sarah:  Start slow and small.

It doesn’t have to be perfect in the beginning. When start up capital is low (or in my case nonexistent), you have to go with the simple ( ie FREE!), apps and software. Create your own graphics, build your own website, reach out to talented friends and family members, as well as others in the industry, to see if they are willing to join forces or at least provide helpful information and advice.

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dilpatrick media’s mission

Six months into it, I’m still building my portfolio, revamping the company’s mission, changing up and re-evaluating the branding, working on my website, shifting some of the main focus, etc., all the while, meeting with and sending proposals to prospective clients and meeting my own (and others’) deadlines. It’s OK that its not “done” and, as with most things in life, its the process and the journey…not the end result.

That said, don’t be afraid to take initiative, aim high, and reach for bigger gigs, jobs, clients, exposure, whatever you want. This is YOUR path and you (of course, along with some outside factors) get to decide where you want it to lead you and your business.

In the beginning it is so important to set specific time in your daily (or weekly) schedule dedicated to your dream. This is tough, especially if you have a job outside the home, school, family obligations, or want a social life. But it is all about prioritizing, making decisions for your future, and sticking to them.

 Sarah working on the go!
Sarah working on the go!

Lately, I have been finding the opposite to be true and it’s probably the biggest difference I see compared to when I worked for someone else’s company/organization. I have to make a conscious effort for “me time”. There is a constant to-do list circulating my brain (and staring back at me from my dry-erase board). I make myself step away from my computer at certain points throughout the day and night. If I’m not careful, I find myself scheduling tweets as my spin class begins, checking my phone while hiking, or even forgetting to respond to my friends’ texts for an inexcusable amount of time. So what I’m saying is, do not forget your life outside of your entrepreneurial venture!

Melibee: How did your study abroad experience contribute to your career?

Sarah: Studying abroad changed the entire course of my career, and pretty much every aspect of my life. Prior to my first experience ever abroad, at the University of Limerick in Ireland during my junior year of undergrad, I was working towards a career in medicine, when I abruptly made a change over to political science. Many of the pre-med majors thought they were not able and/or did not take the opportunity to study abroad. Being able to study abroad was a huge aspect in my early adult decision making- I purposefully applied to colleges that had financially sound opportunities for education abroad.

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Visiting Belfast during her graduate studies and signing the peace wall

After my Bachelors, I worked for a bit in education (substitute teaching and teaching assisting) and applied to graduate programs in Higher Education, International Education, and Intercultural Communication. I had an opportunity to enroll in an interdisciplinary program in Intercultural Studies at Dublin City University. And what better way to study that subject than abroad, in a relatively small class comprised of a dozen different nationalities and unique cultural backgrounds?

After graduating from the program, back stateside, I worked for an intercultural exchange nonprofit organization facilitating high school exchange here in the US. Making the shift from all of that to freelance writing and marketing may seem incongruous, but it was a logical next step as the qualities, characteristics, culture, and lifestyle I experienced during my time abroad have stuck with me.

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Sarah exploring Morocco, at the Royal Palace in Rabat

Most importantly, my desire for location independent work and not wanting to be bound by the so-called “American Dream”-working 9-5, commuting 2-3 hours a day, the 30 year mortgage trap- none of it has ever appealed to me or what I want in life. The experience of studying abroad – both undergrad and graduate school – opened my eyes globally and has given me the self-assurance needed to find some way to live and work basically anywhere I desire. This factor, combined with the economic reality of my generation, solidified my decision.

Melibee: In 7 words, how would you describe your cross cultural career journey?

Sarah: Focused, Passionate, Rhizomatic, Thoughtful, Diverse, Explorative, Unknown

You can best find Sarah at www.dilpatrickmedia.com, Twitter: @dilpatrickmedia and Facebook: www.facebook.com/dilpatrickmedia.