I sat in one of the Miami Ad School NY's classrooms overlooking Brooklyn Bridge when I received an email from AKQA London inviting me to join them for a 3 month internship. I jumped up and called my family in Germany, making stupid remarks like “London calling!” - I couldn’t hold my excitement. I should have known back then that it wouldn’t be the last time I’d say those words. Surely enough, one month later (2014) I moved to London and fled the big apple just before a huge snow storm hit the East Coast.
London itself welcomed me with rain of course, but it didn’t bother us. We were an odd number of three interns yet made the best out of our time at AKQA, working on Nike and co. It was the first time I had ever stepped into an agency and it felt heroic. I’m not sure whether I was just really lucky at times or simply naive, but I didn’t get why people complained about rent prices and packed trains; having studied in San Francisco for a year - with rent prices increasing year by year - and then for short 3 months in NYC, I might have been just used to rent struggle and cuddly train rides.
As the internship was part of my studies, I wasn’t too concerned about getting a job at that point in time. Oh boy, how wrong I was by not being prepared at all: Coming back almost exactly a year later (2015) with my newly acquired diploma under my arm and an eagerness to find a great job as soon as possible, I was stunned how different the job market looked. I had no idea what placements were (that’s not a thing in the States or really anywhere else as far as I know) and the whole team thing threw me completely off (my partner moved to Sweden after graduation - I didn’t seem that lucky anymore).
I made it work somehow either way though by getting in touch with the few people I knew from my time in London. With a little bit of patience and persistence, I got my first placement through a friend of a friend. Although networking isn’t everyone’s thing, it goes without saying that it’s a must in this business (no matter where you really are).
Anyways, after my first stay in London (2014), I made my way across the big pond again to do yet another two internships, this time in NYC. My partner and I always did the extra mile, we worked the long hours, took full advantage of the agency’s beer tap, pitched in the first week, built mini-burgers for hamsters and had simply put the best time. When we didn’t work into the night away, we spent our time at night classes.
You could say that one gets into a certain grind after some time. This might be tiring to some, but I think the city made it totally worth it. As creatives we tend to thrive more when things are busy/lively rather than stagnant and slow (at least that’s the case for me). NYC keeps you on your toes and throws one opportunity after another at you.
If you are fortunate enough to obtain a visa for the US, I can not recommend it enough to you. Not only is the advertising scene there huge (Hello Mad (Wo)Men!) but you’ll probably learn more than you’ve expected. The city is vibrant and a melting pot of people; you will probably never feel alone. I always described NYC as the city which can offer you almost everything you can think of, and $1 pizza slices on top of that.
Eva is Miami Ad School SF/NYC graduate and currently a freelance Creative/Art Director in London. She probably knows more about US visas than one should.