30 Days: "Start where you are" (3/30)

San Francisco, California 

"Where I am"
I had to think long and hard the meaning of "Start where you are." Is it the physical location? Emotional or mental state? all of the above? 

In order to define a starting point, I guess, I have to define also the finish line, wherever that might be. My ultimate goal for this 30 days is to find a job as a Creative Art Director at an Advertising Agency or In-house. As I found out, that's a huge goal, but that's the hope.

"SWOT Analysis"
In Advertising, when presented with a brand problem, usually the first step is a SWOT Analysis. S.W.O.T Analysis is a useful technique for understanding the brand's Strengths and Weaknesses, and for identifying both the Opportunities and the Threats the brand faces. 

Used in a personal context it might identify shortcomings and help develop a way that takes best advantage of talents, abilities and opportunities.

The key here is being honest to yourself to actually define where your real starting point is. (it would be stupid if you don't)

Let's see, my strengths... In order to learn a brand's Strength, usually, i read the Brief that includes a research about it, likely I have that information about myself. Every time I interviewed somewhere, whether I got the position or not I asked for some feedback.

A few months ago, Apple, Inc. started a really cool 6-12 months Internship program. I'm sure everyone can imagine how rigorous Apple's interview process can be.  Let me confirm that to you: It's rigorous. 
Anyway, long story short, after reviewing my background and portfolio, and a "face-time interview," I was invited to the City of Cupertino, California as a "finalist" to have the last four individual interviews with members of the program. I thought the interviews went great:
  • Personality wise, I thought we were very compatible, friendly, inspiring, serious, yet relaxed. (Corporate, yet human). 
  • Work wise: Every single person there was super friendly and kind. Super supportive and inspiring. All of them seemed to care about my future and gave me great advise and encouraged me to go beyond.The projects seem challenging and with a long history of good work.
  • Talent wise, they kept assuring, "you wouldn't be here if we didn't think you were "the cream of the crop."
I left Cupertino uplifted to say the least.  I thought for sure I made the caught. I didn't. 

Later I got a great feedback which seems to match what other recruiters in the spectrum had to say as well about what they think my strengths were:
 "You interviewed very well. You got high marks on your ability to talk through a creative problem in an engaging way that told a story."       
"Your enthusiasm and excitement for the program and the work you’ve done clearly came through for everyone."      
"You were able to be succinct and yet provide the right level of detail when you answer questions."      
"You have some thought provoking work in your portfolio."
(I bet you are asking yourself the same question I was when I got the rejection: Why didn't you get it then? My best answer would be, One can't win it all, and I'm in peace with that answer.)
Other: (My perception)

Fluent in English and Spanish and strong Latin American culture awareness: The fact that I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina: I see this as a huge strength. Not just because it makes me bilingual, but Argentina's culture is very culturally progressive, diverse, huge creative hub, strong European culture, intermixed with strong Latin American passion. The melting pot of South America.       
American subculture awareness: I lived in the United States for almost 14 years ago. I lived in contrasting cultures within the United States: Montgomery, Alabama; Miami, Florida; Brooklyn, New York, Rexburg, Idaho, Salt Lake City, Utah; and San Francisco, California.      
Passion for Law, Traveling, Photography and design: I worked professionally as a photographer, video production, graphic designer and in a law firm. So perhaps my hobbies and experience can be considered a strength as well

This one is hard, because is not just honest and often cruel self look at the mirror, but this is also like stepping on a podium and take good and bad criticism from others. 
If  I have to be honest to myself,  there is always room for improvement and this is what I consider to be my weaknesses:

Like most recent grads, I am not financially independent. That limits me to accepting opportunities that are in other cities or overseas.

Some times people call me stubborn. The dictionary definition of 'Stubbornness' is "dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something." I don't believe I fit that category, but stubborn people can't see stubbornness even if it's clear as water. So, maybe, MAYBE I might be a little stubborn. 

Argumentative, opinionated: I do do that. I usually try to be the devils advocate. And I often voice my opinion.

I don't know if this is weakness or not, but I am from Buenos Aires Argentina, and I am 37 years old. Age and nationality, sometimes, can create invisible barriers. Often, those invisible barriers turns out to not be real, but some other times, they are very real.
This career demands a constant improvement and learning of new software.  

Usually, a way to approach 'Opportunities' is to look at 'Strengths' and ask whether these open up any opportunity. OR taking a look at 'Weaknesses' and ask whether it could open up opportunities by eliminating them.  

You interviewed very well: Apply to every opportunity available. The more you apply the better chances I will get to get to know by more people in the industry, even if at the time I don't get the position I am interviewing for. Eventually, statistically speaking, someone would give me the opportunity I am hoping for.

Ability to talk through a creative problem in an engaging way:  Ask opinion and/or feedback about your projects to colleagues. That will no just going to get your work be out there, but maybe it will open the door to meet in person and meet new people.

Enthusiasm and excitement: Cheer up and be yourself. This sounds so cliché but kindness, speaking your mind and honest friendliness seems to be rare and valuable assets nowadays.    

Thought provoking work in your portfolio: Review your portfolio and work on your projects. listen to the feedback you get and try to go the extra mile on all of them and see what happens.

Fluent in English and Spanish: Contact Ad agencies that focus on Latino audiences. 

American subculture awareness: Show examples of hoe this helps brands, consequently, ad agencies.

Not financially independent:  Survive. (Do an extreme budget cut, and explore other income alternatives.) Some people are willing to pay for some of your work. Why not put ou there and see if it could be some how profitable? Who knows.

Stubbornness: Don't give up! your stubbornness is also your strength. Offer to collaborate with others on their projects and see how you can help out. maybe you can offer a few hours of service on pro bono projects.

Buenos Aires Argentina: The only negative thing I can see about this is your accent. Maybe this would help you improving your vocabulary. 

37 years old: Your experience is awesome, embrace it..
Learning of new software: Software speaking, After Effects is your weakest strength, and it can use some improvement.  


Looking at threats can help to ensure not overlooking external factors, such as new government regulations, or technological or any changes in the industry:
The industry is in constantly changing and it seems as if the industry itself doesn't know where its heading. That's a threat on itself. 
The slow advancement opportunities on the industry would make it very difficult for you to be financially independent on a timely manner.     
Art Directors are being hired out of high school it seems like. You are competing with teenagers.   
The roll of an Art Director is not clear and it seems to be changing towards the graphic designer realm.

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