Careers

This young professional turned a viral Facebook photo into a dream job

Producer Noor Tagouri attends ' Free State Of Jones' New York Premiere at Paris Theater on June 22, 2016 in New York City.
John Lamparski | WireImage | Getty Images
Producer Noor Tagouri attends ' Free State Of Jones' New York Premiere at Paris Theater on June 22, 2016 in New York City.

Back in 2012, Noor Tagouri shared her dream of being America's first hijabi anchor on commercial television by posting a photograph on Facebook.

The image went viral and made her an Internet sensation. She now has over 200,000 followers on Instagram, 39,000 on Twitter, and over 140,000 likes on Facebook. The creation of the hashtag #LetNoorShine let others show support of her dream.

The combination of the photograph, her experiences in journalism and her social media presence led to a job offer from Newsy, a video news network. At 23 years old, she is now an anchor and an international motivational speaker.

Noor Tagouri | Imgur

She was only 19 when she rose to fame, but Tagouri had been making strides towards her career goals for years, ever since she finished her high school studies and raced to start college at 16. She obtained her degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland-College Park at 20.

Her hurry wasn't about being younger, even though TV news tends to favor female journalists who are youthful and attractive.

"I wanted to get a head start because I already knew it would be difficult for me to enter this field while wearing a hijab," Tagouri tells CNBC.

Tagouri, who grew up in a Libyan-American family, says her parents were always supportive of her ambition. Her dad gave her newspapers to read to make sure his daughter was staying up-to-date with current events.

While at college, she held multiple part-time jobs and internships revolving around journalism at companies like ABC and CBS, and she attributes a lot of her success to networking and shadowing workers in her desired field.

"Do your research on who you are meeting and offer to bring them a cup of coffee, or a bagel," Tagouri says. "Realize that nobody owes you anything. People don't owe you a response. They don't owe you their time, and if they give it to you, then be very grateful."

It still bothered Tagouri that no matter who she was shadowing, learning from, or grabbing coffee, she found it hard to find even one news anchor who looked like she did. Only about 13% of newsroom workers are minorities. Tagouri knew her dream would not be easy to achieve because the U.S. has not put a hijabi news anchor on television. But that didn't deter her.

"Honestly, becoming successful at a young age really comes down to not striving to be like other people and just be yourself. I tried being like other people on TV and once I stopped doing that things fell into place," Tagouri says.

"Becoming successful at a young age really comes down to not striving to be like other people." -Noor Tagouri, digital news anchor

Because of her success, she now views her hijab as more of an advantage than a disadvantage.

"By being a hijabi, I'm able to get stories that other people wouldn't normally get and I feel like my identity gets me ahead now instead of holding me back," Tagouri says.

Tagouri is excited about her current position and also about what the future holds.

"I really do have my dream job now. I'm working on series called 'A Woman's Job'," Tagouri says. "Basically, it's me helping other women tell their story on how they got to where they are today."

These are her main points of advice to young professionals who want to achieve their dreams:

  1. Stay focused and make sure you do your best to get around the multiple obstacles you're going to face.
  2. Don't feel like your race, ethnicity or culture is holding you back. Anything that distinguishes you can also help you to understand stories from multiple perspectives, and your experiences can allow you to be more empathetic.
  3. Don't be afraid to reach out to people.