As published by  for Iris Magazine

Carey Albertine and Saira Rao met rushing the same sorority at the University of Virginia and have worked well together ever since. Albertine and Rao join the ranks of highly successful U.Va. alumnae Iris has interviewed. Their publishing company In This Together Media publishes “great books about real girls,” with the purpose of inspiring women and girls through reading.

Carey and Saira did not originally plan to make a career out of publishing. In fact, both had plans to work in television after they graduated from UVA. Eventually they moved on to earn their respective graduate degrees, Saira in law from NYU and Carey in business from Dartmouth University.  Independently, both women flourished in their respective fields; Saira wrote a novel Chambermaid satirizing her experience as a law clerk while Carey worked as an executive recruiter. The two later reconnected and rerouted their careers, really with the help of their young children.

Their original idea for In This Together stemmed from watching Dora the Explorer when the two decided they wanted to create a children’s television show that could be more empowering to their daughters. Saira stated that she was shocked over the “absence of racial diversity in preschool cartoons” today, noting that almost nothing had changed since she was growing up as an Indian-American girl with no one on TV who looked like her.

After watching the documentary Miss Representation, both women became even more passionate about the idea of girl empowerment. Saira said that she began to notice that even in cartoons, almost all the girl characters were stereotypical. As she puts it, they were “either princesses or tomboys, but nothing in between.”

Carey said that at this point, she was “driven to make an impact” and that she wanted to make her career “purposeful.” Both Saira and Carey were so compelled by their passion and desire to empower young women that they were willing to switch their medium from television to books, and decided to establish In This Together as a publishing company with a mission. Both are happy to have joined the publishing industry . Carey mentioned that with all the new technology developing, publishing is now an “exciting time filled with opportunity” and is a “productive, hopeful renaissance for books.” Their company has had major success, with four books currently available on Amazon and eight more on the way,

personal-statement-jason-odell-williams-in-this-togetherWhen asked about their respective experiences at UVA, both women were enthusiastic about their alma mater, giving advice and hope to those of us still navigating the ins and outs of Jefferson’s University and dreading the unknown that hits after graduation day. Carey praised the network she was able to create with her friends, peers, and professors, saying that she “keeps going back to people from U.Va. because of the history and the comfort there.” Saira emphasized how lucky she was to obtain the experiences she did through U.Va’s clubs. Through UDemocrats, Saira worked on the Emily Couric Campaign during her fourth year and claims that the best life advice she ever received she learned through Emily Couric: “Treat everyone the same.”

Finally, the two would have given their 22-year old selves similar advice. Carey would tell her young self to “relax.” She said that something she didn’t realize until later in life is that “there are no wrong decisions” and that it is “better to move forward than to be afraid.” Saira emphasized the importance of developing a network and staying practical. As she says, “How you are matters. Your behavior and your network will get you even further in the working world than your degree will.”

I know I will take these to heart, and wish to be half as successful as these two women in my future after graduation.