Inspiration: Generation Y Forms A Digital Revolution In Cuba

In a country where one voice has dominated the political landscape for over 45 years, a University of Havana graduate has been successfully leading her own digital revolution one blog post at a time. Yoani Sanchez is the voice behind the award-winning blog Generation Y, a bilingual site that chronicles the daily struggles and bittersweet experiences of living in modern day Cuba. Being a blogger in the island is a tough task, especially since owning a personal computer and publishing anything outside of the revolutionary ideal isn’t necessarily encouraged.

Despite facing these adversities, the site has a steady readership of over 2 million and with the growing popularity came even more problems. In 2008, the Cuban government shut down her site, but with international support and a new URL she continues to run her blog today. However, in November of 2009 she faced a direct attack after being abducted, beaten, and detained by “secret police agents.”

Sanchez describes her experience as:

“They squeezed my wrists very hard, beat me in the back in the kidney area, and when people stepped in to do something, they said we were counter-revolutionaries…Clearly, the beating hurts even more a day later; I am still really affected by all of this, but it is not going to stop me from writing my blog.”

How To Survive A Blogging Trial Interview

We all know how the cycle goes. You open up your favorite job searching sites and start shopping for your favorite job titles. Since the economic downturn, I have altered my selection process to also include ‘jobs I can kinda see myself doing,’ ‘jobs I am over-qualified for but include health benefits,’ and ‘part-time jobs that I definitely see myself doing.’ Creating variety for myself has seemed to help a bit.

I recently got written back for a part-time writing position at Babble.com. I got super excited once I found out that the modern parenting site averages about 1 million viewers a month. They skipped the face-to-face interview as a first step and got me started right away on a 2-day trial blogging interview. That required creating 5 blogs a day, 25% original content and 75% re-purposed or previously reported content. I have also experienced similar interview processes at Sirius XM, Clear Channel, and MTV Networks, which consisted of four rounds of face-to-face interviews and a week of trial blogging.

Trial blogging or sample writing is the main step to obtaining an online editorial position nowadays. I have succeeded in many trials, but also received no call backs from many others. Sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what the hiring manager or editorial director is looking for, but I have a few survival tips that always help me out.

1. Study the site you are interviewing for – Sure that includes getting a feel for the voice and style of writing, but it’s also super important to look at all of their sections, figure out their top content, and how they optimize their content. This also helps you realize what elements they can improve on.

2. Find your own voice – Blogging isn’t NY Times journalism. You want your voice to shine, but also balance it out with the writing style already in place. The percentage may vary depending on what kind of site you are interviewing for. When crafting your voice always keep in mind your audience!

3. Be traffic friendly – As an editor, it is very important to make sure your writers know how to tag, categorize, and link content. It’s a huge traffic booster and shows that you know how to increase their demographic. High numbers can mean more money for you in the long run.

The scariest part of the interview process is waiting to hear back. Sometimes you will and sometimes you won’t. I have had to learn to deal with the no call backs, but I like to see it as a blind date. Sometimes you match and sometimes you don’t. The important thing is to take each step as a learning lesson. What could you have done better or differently? With this in mind the perfect gig is sure to arrive soon!

Read some of my Babble.com sample blogs here and here.


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Fave Reviews: Café Con Leche Serves Up Cuban Classics With Style

I love trying out Cuban restaurants in the city! It’s just as exciting as spotting new paladares to hit up on the island. The one thing I’ve learned from growing up in a half-Cuban household and traveling along the eastern and western part of the island, is that not all Cuban food is the same. Another great thing is that it’s almost always affordable cuisine. I was thrilled when I was asked to review Café Con Leche for ULM‘s Sub Urban section. Café Con Leche’s friendly staff and perfectly served up Cuban classics, like picadillo and ropa vieja, left my stomach, wallet, and heart satisfied.

Check out my restaurant review right below!


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