The Interview Series // 08

tomj

We’ve had a bunch of friends who just want to ‘go overseas and work’. It seems to be the holy grail of any creative graduate. You know, the thing that will mean once and for all, ‘you’ve made it’. But there are naysayers amongst us! People like parents and disgruntled seniors who never got to ‘live the dream’. Damn them to hell. But fear not young wayfarers! We found someone who said a solid ‘f**k you’ to all the naysaying wanabees and flew the coop to New York! Tom Jackson (http://www NULL.tomwritesgood NULL.com) now works as a copywriter at Hill Holiday, writing ads for AOL, Partnership for a Drugfree America and Dunkin’ friggin Donuts! He’s also just a really funny and clever guy. And who better than a funny and clever guy to fill us in on the ins and outs of coop flying and living the dream in the big apple.

Junior: Hello Tom! What are you up to at the moment? Writing funny ads and stuff?

Tom: I’m trying to write funny ads, but am distracted by this National Geographic Video Podcast called ‘Dangerous Encounters’. This over enthusiastic American in Khakis seems to spend every episode crawling recklessly through Crocodile lairs and Python caves, always so shocked when a pissed off animal attacks him. Did he learn nothing from Steve Irwin? But as soon as that is done, right back to ad making, I promise.

Jr: You’re in New York and you’re from Melbourne. Wtf? Fill in the blanks.

T: Well, I was working really hard at Cummins and Partners in Melbourne with my partner Tian. We got to work on some great clients and do some really good work. It was a really supportive environment and lots of fun, but I was busting my butt and getting exhausted. So I figured, why not bust my butt and get exhausted, but be in a big fun city like New York? So I saved some money, quit my job and hopped a jet over here.

In retrospect I probably should have got a job before I left, because it took me a few months to land one, once I arrived. But in a way this was probably a good thing, because it gave me a chance to unwind and reignite my hunger for work again. Plus I got to spend a summer in New York with lots of savings and time on my hands (something I recommend everyone do at least once in their life.)

Jr: Isn’t New York the centre of some serious global economic shit right now? That can’t be good.

T: Yes it’s a big weight dragging everyone down and I’m sick of hearing about it. ‘We get it CNN, the financial world is collapsing all around us, and Kevin Bacon’s broke! Now tell me something positive for fucks sake!?%^&?%^!

Jr: We saw David Byrne (http://www NULL.davidbyrne NULL.com/) last night. He’s amazing. We read somewhere that he rides bicycles around NYC. Ever seen him pass you on your morning bagel run?

T: If I ate an American bagel every morning I’d be larger than the Octuplet mum before she gave birth! And no I haven’t seen David Byrne. I did however see Terry Richardson (http://www NULL.terryrichardson NULL.com/) riding past the Patricia Field’s store on Bowery last summer. And like all true hipster dufusses, who seem to value looking sharp over their cognitive motor skills and ability to eat dinner without the assistance of a Ukrainian hospice nurse, he wasn’t wearing a helmet*.

*Please see helmets for hipsters (http://helmetsforhipsters NULL.blogspot NULL.com/) for more information.

Jr: Enough NY questions, let’s do the life changing stuff. So we’ve had this ongoing question raging for a little while here at Junior. It’s called the ‘grass is greener’ question, and it’s like this crazy banana peel of a question that gets answered differently by different people. Can you be the one to solve the banana peel mystery? Are you ready?

T: Yes, I am ready. Hit me with your best banana and banana peel related questions.

Jr: Is the grass greener for a creative in New York!? Or is it like being in Melbourne but with better galleries?

T: Well here’s the thing. It depends what you want out of life. If I really wanted the greenest grass as an ad creative I would have moved to Colorado and tried to get a job at Crispin (http://cpbgroup NULL.com/). Or I would have moved to London where the work, in general, is better than in the US. But I didn’t come here just for advertising. I also came here cos it’s a kick ass city and to find more opportunities as a writer. New York is such a mecca for so many creative industries that the opportunities for both advertising, and also writing work outside of advertising, are greater than I could find at home or really anywhere else.

Jr: Emma Hill told us, “don’t fall for the jobs that are easier to get in the bigger kinds of places. It will be much harder to get into Saatchi’s than McCann New York for example.” What do you think about this statement?

T: It’s totally true, but if you need a job to get you set up and pay the bills don’t be afraid to take it. That been said try your hardest not to settle for the worst/first thing available, as tough as that may be. It’s not that hard to get a job at McCann but it is hard to get a job after working at McCann.

Jr: Any final tips on planning for an overseas work jaunt? What are the things you forgot to do that you wish you had done?

T: Do everything you can to get work before you leave. It’s hard because you kind of have to be there to see people and get all up in their bizness, but just try and do everything possible from home.

Then once you’re there, hit the ground running and get to work.Use every contact you have, harass every person you know. Be as relentless as you possibly can. Call your recruiters everyday and annoy them so they don’t have a second to forget who you are. And finally when you have done everything that is humanly possible, let it go. I would always make sure that I spent half my day looking for a job and the other half seeing part of the city. The amount of top 10 lists I went through… I think I ate at every one of the ‘Top 10 Breakfast Spots in New York’ (number 1- Egg in Williamsburg- not so great). The point is you’re in an awesome city; so don’t forget to enjoy it.

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 18/02/2009