Story and photos by Rex Nwerem
Moving to New York City to work after graduation has been a dream of mine since the moment I declared my advertising major. Those who know me well find that surprising because, to tell the truth, I don’t like New York City that much. And what I dislike even more than the city is summer heat and humidity. So moving here after right after graduation in June was a challenge for me. But the cultural value of the city and its history give it real grandeur, so I just decided to suck it up and persevere.
I’m so glad I did. The experience I am getting here is like none I could get anywhere else.
I am a strategy intern at Translation LLC, a company that’s beautifully diverse and greatly influenced by different cultures. I have been lucky enough to do translation work for Google Play Music, NFL and State Farm. I also write client-facing reports on new developments in the marketing world.
As a strategist, it’s my responsibility to set the foundation for campaigns and ensure that our creative executions and media placements make the most sense and create the most convincing content. I do a great amount of qualitative and quantitative research.
I feel my internship at Translation is different from what I have heard about internships at other places, and I think that’s due to the way my mentors teach me to look at things and present them. The lenses through which we look at things here are special. I think that is thanks to the culture of the agency and the initiative of its leaders, which trickles all the way down to the interns.
Through this internship, I have learned that my teachers were right:
Hard work really is the key to accomplishment and success.
Cliché as it may be, my biggest takeaway is that nothing beats hustle. Thinking up smart ideas and creating beautiful designs are great, but those things can’t be done haphazardly. You need to put in the hours. And you need to respect the process of the profession if you’re going to get the most out of it.
One more thing: I used to be a human physiology major, but I did not have a passion for it. It took some time, but when I found the SOJC I instantly had a high affinity for everything there. The academic advisors brought me in, made me feel comfortable and gave me the guidance I needed. My teachers gave me the tools, my peers helped me gain a competitive edge, and having opportunities like this New York experience have given me the insight I needed to know if the agency world is for me. All of this taught me how to make great work and be confident in my perspective.
I lied. This is the last thing: Call home often. I know it keeps me level headed, and it brings my parents peace.
Rex Nwerem is a recent grad of the SOJC, where he earned a degree in advertising with a minor in business. As a first-generation Nigerian-American born in the Pacific Northwest, his cultural roots span the world. It is his colorful family and upbringing that have helped prepare him for life in the Big Apple, where he works as a strategist at Combined Culture and Translation LLC. When he was an SOJC student, he also competed at the National Student Advertising Competition as a member of the Ad Team. Rex, who is powered by Nutella and banana chips, loves cooking on Snapchat and finding new music. You can follow him on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram @rexnw.