How a 26-year-old went from entry-level to senior producer and host of her own show in just 4 years

Courtesy Dolapo Sangokoya

Dolapo Sangokoya is an on-camera personality and senior creative producer who made a bet on herself to get ahead in her career. At just 26, Sangokoya has already gone from zero production experience to achieving her goal of producing and hosting her own show.

She recently launched the first season of "The Lo Down with D-Lo" on the emerging streaming platform Firework. Over the course of five episodes, Sangokoya breaks down pop culture and current events.

It's a major milestone for her; one she appreciates all the more because when she started her career five years ago, she was new to the industry, with no production skills — just a drive to learn everything she could.

Here, Sangokoya shares her best advice on getting ahead quickly in your career: By taking risks, gaining experience, building your confidence, speaking up for yourself when it matters, and more.

How this 26-year-old skyrocketed from an assistant to hosting her own show

Video by Courtney Stith

Be proactive

In 2015, a friend introduced Sangokoya to the media company NowThis, and she started from the bottom as a production assistant. "I came in very fresh but willing to learn," she says. "They were like, 'OK, we just got our first big branded content deal. We need you to help production coordinate this.' I'm like, 'Production? I didn't even know that "DP" stood for director of photography.'"

Her willingness to jump into something new paid off as she was promoted from production assistant to associate producer. The lesson: "You have to be proactive," Sangokoya says. "You have to go for it. You're like, 'OK, I'm going to learn this. I'm going to hone this and I'm going to try to build up my skill set.'"

Have confidence in your abilities

Believing in yourself can make a difference as you build your career, she says. "I've always known what I wanted to do, and I had a confidence in my ability, even when I didn't know how to do it or didn't have the tools to do it."

There is real value in being open to learning: "When you're vulnerable, you're saying, 'I want to learn this, but I don't know how to do this.'"

Courtesy Dolapo Sangokoya

Doubting your own abilities is common when trying to get ahead in the workplace. Tech entrepreneur Tanya Sam says she has noticed a lack of confidence in many of the women she's worked with, for example.

"It's really interesting and superfascinating because so many women say things like, 'I'm just not sure, I don't know if I can do it,' and ask questions like, 'What if they find out that I'm not perfectly qualified?'" Sam told Grow last year.

You don't have to be afraid of not knowing something, though, Sangokoya says. Take the time to learn and build your skills, and you can help keep impostor syndrome at bay.

Create a space for yourself

"I don't necessarily look like your typical average production person. I don't look like your typical producer or director, or even an on-camera host," says Sangokoya. "You don't see people who look like me traditionally in my job."

It proved important for her to create a space for herself, and to help pave the way for others like her. "We live such beautiful lives, and a lot of our lives are not being shown in media," says Sangokoya. "So bringing stories out from people of color and women of color into the forefront is what I am meant to do. And I'll continuously do that."

Courtesy Dolapo Sangokoya

After gaining important experience behind the scenes, Sangokoya brought the idea of hosting videos to her bosses.

"I said 'I love to host, I love to create. I love to tell stories in front of the camera. This is something I'm very passionate about,'" says Sangokoya. And she got her bosses to agree.

"I've always wanted to have my own talk show where I get to discuss being a first-generation American and sharing my unique perspective on the way I see the world." Now, she says, "the sky's the limit of where I am going to go with my career."

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