What if I told you that I never wanted to go into advertising?
What would you say if I told you that for the first two years of my collegiate career, I was a science major? A biochemistry major? A molecular biology, biochemistry, and bioinformatics major?
Not the backstory you’d hear from the average Jr. Art Director. But the fact of the matter is, it is my backstory. Well, it was my backstory.
For as long as I can remember, any time someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always, “dentist.” No rhyme, no reason, just… “dentist.”
Picture it: me on a Friday afternoon in the second semester of my sophomore year of college. A windy, rainy day wreaks havoc outside and I’m stuck in an organic chemistry class after another sleepless night of studying for bio-chem-genetics-calculus-God-knows-what. I’m tired, hungry, irritable, and in desperate need of something deep-fried and smothered in cheese. To add insult to injury, we’re getting our midterms back today. Oh, joy and rapture.
The less-than-admirable mark written in red pen next to my name was my final straw. It was that very moment that I decided I was not going to be a dentist. Talk about an epiphany, eh? I wanted to do something else. Something that made me happy (or at least didn’t make me want to eat a tube of super glue). The following semester, I found what I was looking for.
Mass Communication 101: The beginning of the rest of my life. It was in that classroom where for the first time in college, I felt like I was in the right place at the right time. That is where I met the professor that became my academic advisor (thanks, Dr. Nichols), and that is where I began paving my way toward my true destiny as a creative in advertising.
But my bachelor’s degree wasn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong; I know what a top-notch education I received. But what I got out of it wasn’t where I wanted to stop. I didn’t want to be “Communications Specialist” at “Company X.” I wanted a job title that spoke volumes. Something that defined the creative ability I had to offer. Something that took me from “Company X” to “Advertising Agency.”
Goodbye Timonium, Maryland. Hello Boston, Massachusetts. Boston University had accepted me into its graduate program in advertising. No one and nothing could have prepared me for what I'd learn, whom I'd meet, and what I'd do from that point on.
Being taught by the veterans of advertising, the seasoned founders of some of the largest agencies in this city, you can imagine what kind of passion that ignited in me as an aspiring art director (once I learned what an art director was, of course).
With each passing day, I was in awe of how much I was learning and what kind of future I was preparing myself for. The constant collaborative work, the building of my creative portfolio, and absorbing so much knowledge along the way was instilling a hunger for an advertising career inside of me. From classes to internship, internship to work experience, and work experience to Jr. Art Director at PJA Advertising + Marketing.
I consider myself one of the luckiest guys on the planet. I'm doing what I went to school to do. Scoff if you must, but you might not realize how many people don't get that opportunity in life. To follow their passions. To wind up doing what they want (and paying off that student loan debt by means of a career that justified getting that loan in the first place).
We all need jobs. I needed a job. But what I wanted was to create. And to make a living by creating every day is the greatest reward I could have asked for. Looking back, if I had to choose between giving you a Novocain needle in the back of your gums and working with like-minded creatives that have a driven passion for making cool stuff, I think I’d go with the latter.
At PJA, working is creating, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here's to great beginnings and even greater futures.