By: Taylor Moore, UCF Ad Club & AAF MPMS class of 2016
“I could just run away,” I thought as I sat in a plush armchair at the Roosevelt Hotel lobby. It was an hour into the career fair, and I had left the ballroom in a flurry of anxiety and panic.
This wasn’t working. These recruiters don’t like me, I thought. I was being too awkward, too passive. Ogilvy, Publicis, Omnicom, BBDO, DDB, TBWA—what does it all mean?
I’m not prepared enough. I’m not qualified enough. I’m not confident enough. Should I have made a portfolio? Why was I pursuing a discipline with few entry-level jobs? What was I even doing there? To calm myself, I checked my phone—Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, as if it all mattered. I tried to look busy to any casual onlookers. I contemplated staying in my hotel room until the next event. I contemplated jobs, prestige, the necessity of chairs with comfortable arms, and oblivion.
A couple weeks ago, I was honored to be a part of the American Advertising Federation’s 2016 Most Promising Multicultural Students program in New York.
MPMS is an industry immersion and recruiting program for the nation’s top 50 minority college seniors. With the goal of promoting diversity within the field, we embarked on four packed days of agency visits, speaker panels, and workshops, which ultimately led up to a career fair and an awards luncheon. AAF selected me for their class of 2016 after a rigorous application that involved several essays and a nomination that I had received because of my involvement in Ad Club UCF.
On February 15, with high expectations, I flew to the Big Apple. Graduating this spring, I want to pursue a career in digital media and strategy, and New York is the place to be. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I didn’t want to waste it.
I sat in that comically ornate, godforsaken chair for 45 minutes. Staring at my notes but not reading. Sketching out detailed escape plans in my mind as if I were a prisoner and not the recipient of an astounding opportunity. Overanalyzing but—maybe—not analyzing enough.
In that moment in time, I was faced with myself, in this echo chamber of paralyzing self-doubt and than shame at that self-doubt.
Then I did something I had never done before—I gave myself permission to fail miserably. I told myself to screw it and do the best that I could with all that I had. If New York chewed me up and spit me out, it was only one week in my life anyway.
And for that remaining hour of the fair, I killed it. I had a lot of valuable conversations with recruiters, and I learned so much more than if I had skipped town, as I had hilariously considered just 30 minutes earlier.
And from there, I had an incredible week. Our group visited General Mills, where we were met with a cereal bar and given boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios with our names on them. I got to sit at the news desk at CNN during our tour of Turner Broadcasting’s headquarters, where unfortunately I didn’t get my start as their newest anchor, but I had a fun time anyway. And at the awards luncheon, I got up on stage in front of hundreds of people and didn’t trip—not even once.
In those four days, I learned so much about the industry and my place in it, and I’m eternally grateful to the American Advertising Federation for bringing me that much closer to my dreams. I’ve also gained 49 brilliant, talented friends who are just as excited about the industry as I am, and the value of that is immeasurable.
And, perhaps most importantly, I discovered that you can’t run away from yourself. Your insecurities will follow wherever you ago, keeping you from doing what you want to do and what you need to do. They don’t scurry off when you board the plane.
So the next time you find yourself with a seemingly insurmountable challenge and voices in the back of your mind saying that you’re not good enough, tell them to shove it. You’re too busy for that crap. You’ve got somewhere to be.