Designing Your Dream Career

The Market Collective was launched as way for a group of young entrepreneurs in Toronto to join together and use their thought leadership and extensive industry knowledge to create a one stop shop for all of your communication and digital needs.  The team is made up of RJ Mojica and Charlotte Wong (digital media strategy and web & app development at Grilled Cheese Affairs)  Anya Nordström (Anya Nordström PR) and Jessica Gordon and Chris Reygel (marketing, design and brand development at Superfish Brands). I sat down with the team to learn from their insight and experiences on how to navigate their way through the job market and tips for designing your own dream career!

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On how to take ownership of your career…

RJ Mojica: For me the biggest challenge that most people face when starting out is two-­‐fold: the feeling of lack of knowledge or resources and the fear of failure. While both are very real concerns, I can say that the first is very solvable. Teach yourself and get out there and start networking. Professional networking is one of the most important skills to learn and master as soon as you get out of school; learn your communicative style and own your personal brand presence. With the advent of easily accessible information online it’s really up to your own personal motivation to learn things on your own. The fear of failure is a bit tougher. This is mental; you have to not be afraid to fail. My best piece of advice is to realize that when you’re young, you usually still have a network of support through family and close friends – so it’s not always the end of the world.

Anya Nordström: I kind of came into my career as a publicist in a backwards manner. After several years of being involved in the international fashion industries as a model, I began to feel frustrated with being judged for my image in front of the camera. I noticed that even though I had other interests and side projects, as soon as people found out I was a model they could only see me as that. So, at 20 I decided to not re‐sign my contract and moved back to NYC with “a dollar and a dream” so to speak. I think in my situation, taking control of my career path and what I wanted to do was my only option. I quickly secured an internship and night job through one of my designer connections and made a promise to myself that I would do my absolute best at this opportunity. I was always the first one in in the mornings and the last one to leave in the evenings and made sure that at every chance I got, even if it was taking one of my bosses dry­‐cleaning in or going on a coffee run, that I stood out from the “army of interns” working with me that summer. My initial goal was quite simple really, I just wanted the publicists I was working for to know my name! That way, whenever they had a project or task for an intern they thought of me first.  I worked as hard as I possibly could and the odds were definitely against me but I was taking ownership of what I wanted to do with my work life and went for it!

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On the changing job market for the millennium…

Jessica Gordon: I graduated the year of the crash, so at the time, it was very difficult to get my foot in a door that many seasoned veterans were being shown out of. Ad agencies and design firms were scaling back, and so I worked as a freelancer instead. These circumstances led me to starting my own business, which I think is something a lot of millennials are doing. Not only do we want to showcase our skills and talent, we want our work to matter and mean something. There are so many tools and funding programs out there for emerging businesses, so I recommend you research them and take advantage. Creating your own job is risky business, but the rewards are well worth it. Right now we see this on the ground level, with a renaissance boom of new retail, restaurant and entertainment brands here in Toronto — but we can go beyond burgers, craft beers and handmade beard oils; there are so many industries out there waiting to be newly conquered.
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On designing your own dream job…

RJ Mojica: Designing your own dream job is not about having everything you want. It’s about being ok with compromising for the reality of the situation. If you want to look at it on a more positive light, you can say it’s all about being ‘readily adaptive.’ But it really is about noticing that you are not the best. And you are definitely not the best at everything. So in designing your own dream job, know your strengths and weaknesses first. Then realize that you probably cannot do it alone. I’ve been really lucky in both knowing my strengths and weaknesses after several real‐life trial and error situations with clients. But I’ve also partnered with two amazing co- founders who know exactly how to take care of the things I can’t. Be readily adaptive and open to compromise. Know yourself. And team up with complementary partners. Then, and only then, can you start realistically approaching that so‐called dream job.

Charlotte Wong: Anyone can have their dream job, but you need to be realistic about the time and effort involved. You will need to work hard to achieve what you want, and be ready to deal with rejection or setbacks along the way. I think they key to success is to find where your passions and skill set overlap and explore that space to find where you can call your own. Having a strong support group of friends, co‐workers and family also helps to keep you motivated and moving forward.

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On the importance of networking…

RJ Mojica: Professional networking is a hugely underrated skill. My company has not undergone any outbound marketing strategies. Our entire client pool is based off of word-of-mouth and professional networking. I cannot stress this enough. Know your networking style and put yourself out there. Are you a pro at fancy cocktail parties? Then bring some business cards at every single one. Do you handle yourself well at conferences? Then sign up for all the relevant ones. If these events cost money, look at it as an investment. You have to spend money to make money and a pay wall is the least of your worries when in one even you can collaborate and work with 5 new clients.

Anya Nordström: Networking with peers is one of the main requirements in my field and I think I have been lucky in the sense that I am a natural people person and enjoy trying to things and making new connections. As a beginner or “newbie” in the job market, with new connections comes new challenges and to anyone else just starting out in public relations I say “Fake it until you make it!” One of the very first connections I made as an intern was a celebrity stylist who came into the showroom to pull for a photo shoot with Cynthia Nixon. I accompanied the publicist I was then assisting and when the appointment was finishing up, she suggested me to come and help him out on the shoot that weekend. Obviously I was completely over-­‐joyed but then terrified because I had never done anything like this before but I held my head high and did a little background research and after the shoot, the stylist ended up hiring me as a freelance assistant! It was my first paid job post-‐modeling and an incredible experience just to be there ­‐ not to mention getting to meet one of my Sex and the City idols! Had I been afraid or intimidated by this opportunity or even just admitted that I didn’t know what I was doing, it may have never worked out…

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On how to create your own personal brand and stand out in the job market…

RJ Mojica: Creating your own personal brand is important. Apple Inc’s brand value is slotted at $98.3 billion this year; why do you think that is? You brand is how the world realizes that you are an individual and not just a CV on a stack in the HR department. Nowadays people really need to be introspective in realizing who they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are. I cannot stress enough that marketing yourself is of utmost importance for both business owners and employees. If people can’t remember or identify you in a crowd of similar careers and positions, then you need to work on owning your personal brand.

Chris Reygel: RJ’s absolutely spot on here — your brand communicates who you are and what makes you different and ultimately better than your competition. So ask yourself: What is my greatest talent? Who do I want to work for? What are their values and priorities? What makes me a passionate extension of their values and priorities? Who am I competing against? Why should an employer hire me over them? The more concise you are with your language, the better defined your personal brand will be. It’s important that there is no ambiguity and that you fully own and believe in what you’re saying — be authentic and don’t shovel bullshit — it stinks and it immediately communicates that you’re disingenuous. Once defined on paper, use your answers as a personal brand guide. If your answers are solid and true, they will influence everything from your verbal and written communication style, to the way you dress for networking events and interviews.”

Anya Nordström: Creating my brand came much later in my career. I had been working in PR for 6 years before I decided to pull the trigger and launch my own business. To be honest I was a bit clueless but had already begun working with my partners in TMC, Grilled Cheese Affairs and Superfish Brands. Our collaboration on ANPR came together organically and was actually really fun! I am more than happy with my brand image and website and I think this is what all of The Market Collective’s potential clients can expect: A fun and easy collaborative effort from a team of young entrepreneurs who believe in you and what you are doing!The Market Collective 4

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