What TV correspondent and tech founder Fig O’Reilly does in a workday

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Welcome to The Work Day, a series that charts a single day in various women’s working lives — from gallery owners to stay-at-home parents to chief executives. In this installment, we hear from former Miss Universe Ireland Fionnghuala O’Reilly, who’s now a CBS correspondent and start-up founder. She recorded a workday in March.

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Job title: Correspondent on CBS’s “Mission Unstoppable”; fonder of tech start-up, Space to Reach

Previous jobs: In 2019, I spent my year in the role of Miss Universe Ireland. But my true first job was at 19 as a model in Milan. At the time, I was attending George Washington University, where I studied systems engineering. I balanced my semesters off working in Italy, and after graduating, I joined a tech start-up in D.C. to hone my skills in data science.

Shortly after, I became a NASA Datanaut working within the agency’s open innovation program, until I became the first woman of color and Black woman to represent Ireland at an international beauty pageant — the Miss Universe competition. I used my year as Miss Universe Ireland to become a global advocate for women and diversity in STEM.

What led me to my current role: In my current role, I work as a correspondent for CBS’s Emmy-nominated science show “Mission Unstoppable,” whose goal is to create more visibility for women in STEM to teach and inspire the next generation. Since high school, when I first learned how to code, I knew that I was interested in becoming an engineer. I had some rock-star teachers and mentors who showed me that I could pursue a career in STEM.

At the same time, my first job was in fashion, and I had a passion for it early on. Like many of my millennial peers, I am a proponent for building new lanes for career paths that have yet to be carved out. I have often felt at odds while trying to balance working in several industries that haven’t necessarily intersected. I believe in the phrase, “If you can see it, you can be it.” My goal is to show more women and girls that it is possible to have a wide range of interests and that you don’t have to fit any stereotype of what it looks like to be an engineer.

How I spend the majority of my workday: Depending on the time of year, my day-to-day can look very different. If I’m filming an upcoming season of “Mission Unstoppable,” I travel all over the country to interview women from a wide variety of careers in STEM. Each segment I film is different: From searching for bears in Alaska with wildlife biologists to kayaking on the Chicago River with ecologists to attending astronaut trainings in zero gravity in Los Angeles with space researchers, my adventures take me far and wide.

When I am not filming the show, I spend my time working on a tech start-up I founded to help Black and Brown women in STEM get hired in the tech industry called Space to Reach. Work has been busy, because we are in the final stages of getting ready for our launch in April.

6:30 a.m.: I typically wake up around 6:30, and (like so many others) immediately check my phone — I’m looking at you, emails and Instagram.

7 a.m.: I complete a five-kilometer run. For the past few months, I’ve started my day with a run. I’m training to run the NYC half marathon to help raise support on behalf of Smile Train, a charity organization that empowers local medical professionals to provide free cleft treatment to children around the world. I recently visited Mozambique in Southeast Africa to see in person how the organization is changing children’s lives.

7:45 a.m.: After working out, I get ready for the day to work from my home office. My mornings are focused on Space to Reach; I take a lot of virtual calls and work with my team on our programs and services.

12:45 p.m.: For lunch, I usually make something at home. Lately, I’ve been into falafels or shrimp tacos. Sometimes, I eat outside and take a walk to get some fresh air around my neighborhood, which is located on a river.

1:30 p.m.: After lunch, I pull out my audio recording equipment to record voice-overs for “Mission Unstoppable.” We record voice-overs on a rolling basis while episodes are in postproduction before airing.

3:30 p.m.: Today, I am filming a virtual talk I’m giving for Asana, a work management platform. I often create content for various collaborations, including women and diversity in STEM keynotes as an ambassador for Engineers Ireland (Ireland’s leading professional body for engineers) and brand collaborations for social media (most recently for the premiere of 120 statues of women in STEM for Women’s History Month at the Smithsonian).

6 p.m.: Before I log off, I answer outstanding emails and plan my schedule for the following day. Today, I’m catching up with the US-Ireland Alliance, which has invited me to attend an event celebrating Irish actors in Hollywood during the Academy Awards.

8 p.m.: Unwinding is a must for me, and I do so by calling friends and family on FaceTime or watching a show or movie. Lately, I’ve been re-watching my favorite 1990s and early-2000s romantic comedies. I am also a new plant mom, so I take a bit of time to tend my houseplants. Home-cooked meals are a chef’s kiss moment, but if I’m feeling a bit lazy, I grab a bite to eat from one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants. Tonight, I’m eating smoked turkey rice and beans that I made over the weekend.

10:30 p.m.: By 10, I’m usually in bed and am mentally running through my to-do list for the next day. I like to journal, listen to my favorite podcasts (tonight it’s an unsolved murder mystery), catch up on the news or scroll on TikTok before falling asleep.

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