Being the New Guy During a Pandemic

Marc is one of Pace’s newest client solutions partners, and he managed to apply, interview and start at Pace all while we’re working from home. We talked with him about not only this most recent challenge, but other times he’s met scary situations head-on.

Where did you grow up?

Columbia, South Carolina. I didn’t live anywhere else until I went to college at Clemson University. (Go, Tigers!)

What was your major?

Clemson offered an art-focused graphic design major and also a more business-focused graphic communications major. I went the business route, hoping to get some marketing classes under my belt, and thank God I did—I quickly realized the creating part of graphic design was not my strong suit!

 

You lived in New York? What kind of work did you do there?

Yes. The time I simultaneously felt the most alive and the most afraid was when I moved to New York City for my first job. I’d told everyone that I didn’t want to live in a big city, and by “big city,” I was thinking Charlotte or Atlanta. I never would’ve imagined I’d end up in New York!

I was an account coordinator at a digital and premedia agency that specialized in packaging on the Shiseido account (think brands like bareMinerals, NARS and BUXOM). I remember feeling like such a fraud because while I knew tons about design and packaging, I knew next to nothing about cosmetics. I had the hardest time trying to remember all the categories. Complexion? Skincare? Color? Foundation is concealer for the entire face, but concealer is only for certain spots?

Eventually, I was promoted to on-site account coordinator (meaning my office was in my client’s office and I sat two desks down from them every day). The job was high-intensity, fast-paced, high-stress, and at times unforgiving (just like you’d expect from a New York agency job, right?). But I have to give credit where it’s due; a lot of the skills and habits I bring to the table now can be traced back to my first job in the city.

How did you come to work at Pace?

Back in April of 2020, my previous agency had a round of layoffs and I was on the chopping block. Thankfully, after what felt like a thousand interviews, I found Pace!

Can you talk a little more about the challenges of searching for a job during the pandemic?

The first word that comes to mind is daunting. I was friends with a lot of my co-workers, and it was tough seeing that they got to keep their jobs. It was easy to spiral down the trail of doubting my abilities. It was also tough to show grace to those making hiring decisions when I’d apply and never hear back or have an interview or two and get rejected.

What advice would you give to other job-seekers looking during difficult times?

Be patient when looking for jobs. Don’t apply for something just because it’s available. Make sure it’s a job you can see yourself in for the foreseeable future.

During lockdown, I had a ton of extra time. My advice is use it! Apply for jobs but do other things. I got really into running with my extra time. I watched movies. I took some free courses and learned new skills. I connected with old friends and colleagues. I researched jobs and companies that I actually wanted and used my newfound free time to get myself on track to get one of those jobs.

Apply for jobs you don’t think you’re qualified for! Being on-site at bareMinerals made me realize that the people who work in the NYC high-rise buildings are just regular people.

Don’t be afraid to say no to a job that doesn’t feel right. Over the course of my unemployment, I applied for probably 200+ jobs and managed to have 2–3 interviews every week. Strangely enough, when I made it to the end, I had four job offers in front of me—all for companies I’d fallen in love with! I sat down one night and really weighed the pros and cons.

Practice makes perfect! By the time I was interviewing with Pace, I was months deep into the process and had done an unbelievable number of interviews. I remember joking with my friends that at this point, I’d gotten so good at interviewing, I needed to find a way to make money from being a professional job-seeker. My interview skills were so much better than when I started; I’d learned how to be warm and genuine via Skype/WebEx/Zoom/Hangouts and also effectively articulate why I was the best guy for the role I was interviewing for.

What do you love about working here?

It all feels so weird since I’ve never met any of my co-workers in person! Everyone at Pace has been kind and awesome to work with—including the clients. I also like the work I get to do. My past agencies had different focuses (packaging, advertising), but Pace is dedicated to storytelling. I really like that approach!

Last but not least, who are your heroes?

I’m definitely inspired by everyday people who are just living their lives. I hold hard and fast to the belief that nobody is special, that even our heroes are, at the end of the day, regular people who just happened to do extraordinary things.

Wendy Williams said, “It’s not how you fall down or how low you go in life, but if you can get yourself up and set an example for even one person, then you’ve done your job.” I’ve read memoirs by people like Michelle Obama and Richard Wright, and I’m inspired by the journey their lives took them on.

My friend Emily is starting a small business, and I’m inspired by the risk she took to quit her day job for something she’s passionate about.

This past year, I’ve been inspired daily by the healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients and working to get us a vaccine.

My heroes are all of the people in life who have inspired me.

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