Mark Twain once said, “Life is short. The Break the rules.” Madeline Hill agrees.
When she was 16-years-old, all Madeline wanted was to land an internship. However, she was just a tad underage. What would have stopped many in their tracks instead lit a fire underneath this University of Georgia student.
Madeline did end up getting the internship. How? By telling her future boss that she was 23-years-old, seven years older than she actually was.
She figured the risk of her age embellishment would pay off. And for her, it did. Madeline says that this real-world experience at a young age has worked to her advantage.
Madeline’s story is a combination of risk taking, creativity, travel and joie de vivre. When she was just 14-years-old, she started working as a fashion model with stints in Japan. She says that her years modeling helped her develop a thick skin that was necessary to survive in the ‘Devil Wears Prada’ world of fashion.
With a goal of working in digital communications in New York City, Madeline is working hard to carve a path for herself. She’s a contributor to top outlets like Femsplain and Huffington Post and Fashionista.
We sat down with this digital nomad to learn more about what motivates her career-driven lifestyle, the lie she told to get an internship and the five women she’d love to share a meal with.
What’s unique about your story?
When I was 16, I lied to get my first internship. I told my future boss that I was 23 and it worked. Since then, I’m always thinking about new ways to get ahead and make connections. I think the fact that I started getting real-world experience so young has worked to my advantage. I’m not afraid to take risks, because I know that, at the end of the day, they will pay off in some way.
Half of me is my digital self, where I want to work doing digital marketing and brand partnerships, while the other half of me is obsessed with storytelling. I combine those two sides by writing freelance pieces for websites like The Huffington Post and Femsplain. I am also working on a book of short stories in my free time.
I think having diverse interests is what makes me unique. I don’t think that there is a “right” path in life. I always go with my gut and do what I love no matter what.
What’s something that not many people know about you that has defined who you are today?
I started working as a fashion model when I was 14. While I still model occasionally, it is certainly not my career path for the long-term. But, working as a model allowed me to understand how to be professional from a young age. I was forced to interact with adults who were much older than me, learned how to manage my expenses, and maintain a good reputation with clients.
Where do you find inspiration?
I have a really strong group of women who I am constantly reaching out to for advice. We even have a Facebook group, where we brag about our recent accomplishments and discuss areas where we need advice. I am constantly amazed by the things these women do and it pushes me to go beyond what’s expected of me.
I also spend a lot of time reading whatever I can get my hands on. Whether it’s a book of short stories by Leslie Jamison or an article in The New Yorker, I am a strong believer in soaking up a breadth of ideas. For me, this has been a great source of both creative and practical advice that I apply to my life every single day.
What’s been your favorite experience as a college student thus far?
Probably getting the opportunity to study abroad at Oxford University. While I love digital communications, I am a firm believer in a strong liberal arts education. Having the opportunity to push myself academically at one of the most prestigious universities in the world was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. I dove headfirst into classical texts and was pushed to effectively communicate my ideas in a coherent and concise manner. These are all skills that have helped me in the professional world immensely.
You get to invite 5 influential people to a dinner party. Who are they and why?
- Lena Dunham: I am amazed by her talent and honesty in her work. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her and has achieved immense success at such a young age.
- Joan Didion: One of the most well-known female authors in the world, Joan is a pioneer in the literary world. I’d love to pick her brain about her memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking” over coffee, while reading The New York Times one day.
- Sheryl Sandberg: As someone who wants to pursue a career in digital, Sheryl not only is a great resource for those who want to go into that field, but especially for young women who are trying to take a stab at the glass ceiling.
- Jill Abramson: She’s the former executive editor of The New York Times: Recently, I listened to an episode of “Here’s The Thing,” which is a podcast hosted by Alec Baldwin and fell in love. She achieved so much success in journalism, despite many setbacks, she persevered.
- Beyonce: I mean, do I need to say anything more.