More often than not, our plans in life don’t go as we had expected.
I’ve always found the idea of going to college somewhat foreign to me. My parents never went to college, so my default mindset was “graduate from high school, attend a community college, and maybe do something I enjoy which has always been in the creative and entertainment field.”
Fortunately, thanks to my encouraging high school friends, I was able to overcome that mindset, attend college straight out of high school, and even graduate within 3 years with a full-ride scholarship.
Unfortunately, while I had hoped to pursue an MBA or full-time job after college, I found myself working part-time a few months post-graduation, and effectively unemployed for an additional year afterward.
Unemployed after college
No doubt, it was a rough time.
I had applied to over 60-100 roles and got rejected from all of them, including 20 interviews that I was able to land. Sometimes I wish I counted the exact number of rejections I experienced so that I can encourage others, especially the college students who are graduating within these few years.
In that year after my part-time job at the UC Riverside Career Center, I worked a temporary 5-week job during which I lived paycheck to paycheck. Couchsurfing, Top-Ramen, frozen pizza became my life. It was terrible, but that was what I had to do in order to survive at that time.
On top of the practical things I did to save money, I also had to work hard to keep an optimistic perspective on life. A large factor that helped me in keeping that optimism is my childhood experience when I got picked on by a lot of people for being that bubbly and nerdy kid. Over the years, I somehow learned to turn those feelings of rejection into a source of inspiration.
The thing is, we are all learning. Many of us feel like we can never be good enough. What I tell myself is that: I am not good enough… yet. To get to where I want to be, I need to keep learning while taking care of my mental health and to be patient. During my job interviews, I would get technical questions that I had no idea how to answer; and even though I knew in those moments that my interview was over, those failures taught me to do more research so that the next time I face a similar question, I’d know the correct answer. As I kept taking notes, I was eventually able to speak the language of the world that I’ve always wanted to break into – the Media and Entertainment industry.
Working at OMG23 with Walt Disney Studios as a client
It was this faith in myself that allowed me to land my first — and best — “yes” for an Assistant Media Planner role at OMG23 in December 2019.
OMG23 is a media and advertising company that does all advertising and media planning for Walt Disney content, including their movies and shows like ABC, Disney Channel, FX, previously Disney plus, and eventually Disney parks and resorts.
Right now, I am planning for the Mid Season releases for ABC, as well as other TV shows releases after we return from the holiday break in January and February. In a specific project that I am working on — the Bachelor, one of ABCs biggest shows — we will be strategizing the ideal target audience, reaching out to advertising partners and vendors, as well as updating budgets, etc.
What I love so much about my job is that creativity is the key here. You always want something that is out of the box and yet aligns with the viewers’ emotions and identity. Disney and OMG23 will often go back and forth with our ideas just to make sure their viewers are relating to the campaigns we are putting out.
But just like what I mentioned earlier about my job scratch experience, everything comes with experience. Even creativity comes with experience. So don’t be afraid when you feel like you are not always doing “The Right Stuff” (pun intended for Disney+ viewers) because we are all learning. Just make sure you are respectful, honest, and diligent. I have only been working with OMG23 for a year, so I am sure there is a lot more for me to learn.
In retrospect, I am so proud of how far my girlfriend and I have come after graduation. In the past year, we have been able to save up for an actual apartment in LA, which is a great accomplishment considering the cost of living there.
I am very excited to continue staying with my company, and hopefully, in the next 5-10 years, I can work my way toward almost any position there.
My tip to all of you reading is to have faith in yourself, focus on what you love, and value your mental health. I had faith in myself despite being unemployed for 18 months. I focused on what I love despite all the odds that stood in my way. And I am lucky to have people who care for me and my mental health.
You do you. You got this!