The Realities Of Moving Abroad For Your Dream Job. Part One.
From one young creative to another, these are some important lessons I live my life by:
It’s important to do something everyday that makes you happy
Do things for you (you have no idea what other people will think)
And be brave enough to go after what you want
I recently decided to complete my last semester of college in the most unconventional way imaginable. I up and moved myself to Amsterdam without a study-abroad program, on my own, in order to pursue my dreams of living and working in the Creative Capital. I’m taking classes online, working on improving my portfolio, and emailing industry professionals like a mad woman, all in the hopes that I can land that dream job (or an internship that gets me on the right track). I moved without any certainty of getting a job, just the motivation, dedication, and stubbornness necessary.
However, to be clear, I was scared shitless, and still am, about the fear of not getting a job or internship, returning home a “failure,” and having to face the facts that I gave up a top ranked program to follow my childish dreams. Making a move like this is hard. You have to not only convince your family and mentors that this is a good idea, but you have to convince yourself and truly believe it. It’s not just taking a leap of faith, it’s landing after that leap and continually pushing yourself even when things are hard. And things will get hard. You might feel lonely, scared, and doubtful, but just know you can do it. You really can do anything you want as long as you’re willing to run after it, breaking down barriers, kicking down doors, and pushing past all obstacles. You can do it. You just have to believe you can.
When I first decided to make this move, I was torn for weeks trying to decide what was the best thing for me, my life, and my career. It was an incredibly difficult decision, especially when everyone in your life is telling you to stay, finish your degree like normal, and move later on. However, even though everyone was telling me one thing, I knew in my gut that moving now, not in six months, was the best thing I could do for me. I realize that for many of you it might not be easy to go against what your parents want, and there is merit to doing what they advise, but if I can give one piece of advice it’s to do what you want to do. At the end of the day this is your life, no one else's, and you need to make decisions for you.
So, what has moving to a new country, where you don’t speak the language, don’t know anyone, or have a support system look like? A hustle. But whether it’s Amsterdam or New York, you make the move, you hustle.
Getting Creatives to Meet with You.
Since being here I’ve had meetings and networking events almost everyday. Before arriving I reached out to industry professionals to meet for coffee. However, I did not email them saying “please please please give me a job I’m really cool and talented and you’ll love me,” just… no. I did the work. I went on Sr. Google, looked up agencies in Amsterdam, found ones that made work that excited me, and then found who made that work (it’s amazing what info Google has available). I then went on LinkedIn, essentially stalked the creatives I wanted to meet with, and found their personal websites where I could find out more about them. Usually they also have their personal email available on their sites. I found work they made, usually work that wasn’t an advert, and emailed them directly, talking about why I liked their work and how it inspired me. Then, after a few sentences of admiration, I would explain I’m new to Amsterdam and looking to make connections if they have time to meet for coffee. I’m not going to lie, this has essentially been a fool-proof method for getting meetings. But getting the meeting is only a fraction of the battle.
Once you actually get a meeting with a creative, you need to know what you want from them. Have your personal elevator pitch ready in case they ask you “so, who are you?” or “so, what do you want from me?” two questions I’ve been asked and taken aback with. With creatives it’s best to be as direct as possible. Be honest. Tell them about yourself, your passions, your stupid stories, anything you think is valuable for them to know about you as a creative person. Have a bottle cap collection? That’s cool. Like to paint faces out of coffee grounds (my specialty)? Fantastic. Tell them. Explain why you do the things you do and leave advertising out of it.
When applying to Internships or Junior positions, creatives want to make sure they can work with you. They essentially want to know if you can hang, so leave the GPA and honor roll factoids at home. Now, not every meeting is going to get you a job, or even an interview at an agency, but it can open up doors to more creatives. Eventually, and this is the stage I’m in, you’ll meet someone who is willing to take a chance on you.
Keep in touch. Email them every two weeks with updates. They might not get back to you, but they will keep you in mind as the persistent, dedicated creative you are. Ask them to put you in touch with others if they can’t keep up with you. Go after it. Then do the work. If they commented on your book, fix it. Make new things. Push yourself. Make sure that you’re showing them, and yourself, that you’re a do-er. You have to make sure everyday you’re making something. It’s hard, especially when life happens and you’re running to meetings, scheduling more meetings, keeping up with classes (me), etc. But you have to make time to do what you moved to do - make the good work. Also, if you hit it off with someone you met for a networking meeting, feel free to try and actually become their friend. People are generally pretty welcoming, and if you want to hangout with them and do creative things together, talk to them about it.
I have now been in Amsterdam for about ten days, don’t have a job or internship yet, and have spent everyday hustling. I might not get a job right now, or three weeks from now, but eventually there will be an opportunity and I’m going to grab on to it and not let go. You have to be willing to take what comes your way and run with the punches. You can absolutely do it, and if no one else believes in you, believe in yourself. You’re the one who’s going to be doing the work. You just have to run towards what you want without looking back.
Ami is a hair-twirling, pumpkin-wearing, polyglot, and creative who traded hot, humid Texas summers for frigid, wet Holland winters. She likes to paint with coffee, design zines, and sometimes make a few ads here and there. She’s currently falling off bikes in Amsterdam while looking for opportunities to learn more as an art director. Check out her most recent work at www.amiartiz.com and drop her a line if you know where she can get the best stroopwafels in Amsterdam.