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February 20, 2010
The Art of Believing

My story begins at the end of college. I entered a summer internship program where I became Heineken Boy for three months. The chance to work under the guidance of David Droga was mind expanding, to say the least, and getting my first pieces of produced art was pretty cool, too.

By the time it ended, I managed to land another internship, thanks to networking. This one happened to be unpaid, but it was for a world-renowned creative shop. It was a no-brainer. The hard part would be getting all my ducks in a row.

I then relocated to the opposite end of the East Coast and was thrown right into the middle of an advertising boot camp. As an intern, my job was to focus on one thing and one thing only, work. It was as if I ate, slept, and dreamt advertising, yet it proved a fun addiction, the thrill of working with prestigious clients combined with the rush of getting book-worthy work produced.

I put my heart and soul into everything I did, as I was determined to finally get my foot into the real world.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to learn that internships, no matter the agency, aren’t seen in the eyes of creatives as real-world experience.

After nine months and a nearly dry bank account, I was forced to talk with creative directors. I was honest with them about how I didn’t want to leave, felt like I fit into the agencies workflow, but could no longer finance the unpaid opportunity.

I received excellent advice on my book and gained tons of friends; however, I left with my head low because I wasn’t given a clear explanation as to why a job offer wasn't extended my way.

My next stop would be New York, a city I loved and a place that held most of my professional contacts. 

I went back to networking. Interview after interview. Meet and greet after meet and greet. Lunch after lunch. Each seemingly open door slammed in my face.

I heard all the clichéd responses:

“You’re just not the right fit.”

“Still too junior for our needs."

“Maybe you should go work for that agency where you interned."

I took yet another internship, and this one was paid. It attracted me because I’d be working on a Heineken brand again, Heineken Premium Light, and the stuff the agency was doing for Boost Mobile was strategically killer. I found myself working on anything and everything they would throw my way and was quickly brought on as a junior.

I was loving life for a few months before rumors started circulating about certain bread-and-butter clients hopping shop. I witnessed several key creative figures disappear. My intuition began telling me to find a place with a bit more security.

That’s when a small agency in North Carolina contacted me. This timed nicely with my current career situation and met some pending family concerns. I’m originally from Charlotte, and my mother had just been diagnosed with an illness. I’m not trying to sound melancholy on purpose; this is simply how things unfolded.

After the initial courtship, I was hired as an art director and have worked at the agency for over two-and-a-half years, still giving my maximum effort. However, my eyes are always open for other opportunities to advance and grow.

I hope this short anecdote exhales a breath of life to those who have taken the time to read it and hope readers have enjoyed my adventures so far.

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Jonathon Haigler spent his first 16 years in North Carolina, then he spent four years in New Jersey followed by four years in New York City. After an extended stay in Miami for nine months, he currently is back in North Carolina. Advertising agencies making up the career path include Publicis NY, Crispin Porter + Bogusky Miami, Berlin Cameron United, and Lewis Advertising, Inc.

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