Tomorrow I’m attending my first ever Advertising, Marketing, and Media conference in Mzaar Kfardebiane, Lebanon.
When I found out I would be attending, it really got me thinking about how my life has changed not only personally, but professionally since I moved to here.
When I first started this blog, I made it a point to keep my personal/professional life out of it, mainly because the only readers I planned on having were my parents, grandparents, a aunt here and there, and mayyyyy..just maybe, a couple of friends from back home..so I took for granted the fact that they already knew all there was to know about my life and my past..
But fast forward 11 months (I started my blog in March 2010)..and my blog has evolved into so much more than a personal diary (or at least I’d like to think so)..and honestly I have all of you to thank for that. Ask any blogger and they will tell you that there is nothing better than knowing that people actually take the time to read (AND comment!) on your blog. It makes all of the effort we put into it worth while.
Where am I going with this? Well, for some time now, (and ever since I posted a contact address on my “Moi” bio page) I have been receiving weekly emails from readers asking me about what I do for work in Lebanon, and how I managed to get a job in the first place.. Aaaaand after careful consideration, I have decided that it’s time I open up a bit more to you about myself and my life.
Are you ready? Here goes..
This is me, getting a little too personal.
Let me start off by answering the “What do you do for work?” question.
Well, I’m a creative copywriter, blogger, and social media community manager.
Shocked? Yeah, didn’t think so.
But I will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t always this way! In fact, when I look back on my 24 years of life, I think I must have jumped around, tried out, or considered at least 10 different professions. And Copywriting was never really one of them.
Well, until I came to Lebanon.
Anyway, to illustrate this (I’m taking a risk here and assuming you care to get to know me better) here are a few bullet points about me and my life:
- Had a inclination toward the sciences..was part of the medical track where I took classes in Anatomy, Physiology, Genetics..etc etc..
- Was almost certain that I wanted to be a doctor. Did a semester long rotation with doctors and hospitals..even saw an autopsy.
- Volunteered with my High School’s physical therapist during athletic events to help injured athletes..and was also the manager of my High School wrestling team (if you can believe that one!)
- Got a job working at a Family Practice office part-time after school. Got a real feel for what it would be like to work as a doctor in the States. Long hours, high malpractice insurance costs.. forcing you to see 30 patients (for 5 minutes or less) a day just to pay the bills. Saw patients who really needed medical help, but couldn’t get any because they didn’t have insurance. Began to question whether or not I wanted to be a doctor in the first place.
- Applied to the Pre-Med program at University of Miami. Got accepted, and was given a 50% scholarship. Still would have had to take out a loan for around $60k to attend..wasn’t sure if I really wanted to spend the next 12 years of my life in school, and get into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
- Chickened out in the end. Got a 100% scholarship from the Honors College at Florida International University. Picked an entirely new major at the behest of my father: International Business. Go figure.
- Began taking Business courses. Hated every minute of it, but still managed to do very well.
- Started working as a salesperson in a high-end ladies shoes store (heard of Giuseppe Zanotti?) at Bal Harbour Shops in Miami.
- Got fed up of listening to professors babble about nothing. Started to take all of my classes online so that I could work and travel more (most of the traveling in my biography “Moi” was done during my University years.
- Took a course in Asian film. Fell in love. Went to China and Thailand. Decided to do a minor in Asian studies.
- Started my first blog to document my travels. Realized how much I loved writing. No one read my blog, so I quickly lost motivation. Decided to let it die a miserable death.
- Quit first sales job. Took another at Bloomingdales department store, this time selling mens shoes, suits, and accessories. Boy was that fun.
- Told my dad I hated business, wanted to switch to PR. Switched all of my Business courses that semester to PR courses. He flipped. Preceded to tell me that I wouldn’t be able to feed my family if I worked in PR. I flipped, and switched all of my courses back to International Business.
- Still wasn’t convinced about anything I was doing. Quit job at Bloomingdales to take PR Internship at a Promotional Marketing, Modeling, Talent, and Staffing agency. Quickly realized, I wanted to be on the ground, and in the field..working and interacting at all of the events we were staffing. That’s right, I wanted to be STAFF.
- My boss agreed. I worked at events, conferences, sales/incentive meetings, restaurants, nightclubs, lounges, and bars on behalf of a range of clients mostly in the beverage industry. Loved every minute of it (and made some really good money and contacts too!). It was the perfect college job.
- Got to know Miami like the back of my hand. Wondered how I could ever make the transition into the corporate world.
- Did a 6 month Communication/Event planning internship at St. Jude Hospital’s Fundraising office in Miami. Wanted to get a feel for a different side of PR. Dabbled in press release writing, cold calling, and being an office errand girl. Didn’t like it.
- Was really frustrated toward the end of my last semester in University. Realized I hated my major, and wondered how my past three years of work experience would get me anywhere in life. Had a chance to go to Lebanon for a week in October of 2009. Booked it on a whim.
- Fell in love with Lebanon. Decided I would live here one way or another. Booked another ticket to go back two weeks after I graduated University.
- Graduated with a degree in International Business with a minor in Asian studies on December 15th, 2009. Left, two weeks later on December 29th, 2009, bound for Lebanon once again.
- Arrived just in time for New Years Eve festivities. Had the time of my life.
- Reality hit a week later when all of my friends were back at work. I had no job, no plan, and money was running out, and FAST.
- Started to study for my GMAT. Looked into getting my MBA at AUB. Got half way through my GMAT book, and asked myself what the hell I was doing and why was I trying to perpetuate something I hated. How would I be able to pay for AUB anyway? I still couldn’t bring myself to take out a loan.
- Threw my GMAT book in the garbage.
- Started looking for jobs in Beirut..not an easy task. Heard about a Digital Agency who was looking for a Copywriter. Remembered how much I had always enjoyed writing.
- Took a risk. Applied. Got the job. Went through a learning curve. Realized I had found my passion and my professional calling.
- Discovered a couple of Lebanese blogs..the first being Maya’s Amalgam, Joe’s Box, and +961.. Decided to start a new blog (which you are currently reading ).
- Kept hearing about twitter..decided to give it a go. In no time, (and I credit this to the Lebanese twittersphere) I was hooked.
- Started to make friends with some amazing people.
- Starting putting more effort into my blog, twitter, facebook..into everything social media..They became my second full-time job. Started to take on more social media/online community management responsibilities at work.
- Hit my one year mark in Lebanon on December 29th, 2010..celebrated it with my family right next to me (finally convinced them to come and visit)..gave thanks for the path my life had taken and for getting to where I am today.
- Sitting here. Writing this. Wondering if I’m being too personal.
- Thinking, what the hell. What do I have to lose?
- Preparing to attended The MENA Cristal Festival tmrw..
End monologue! And now back to my original point.
So, yeah, as I was sayiinggg..
I’m attending my first ever Advertising, Marketing, and Media conference tomorrow (The MENA Cristal Festival), where I will be taking part in a day of conferences, debates, round tables, and workshops about innovation in the communication industry (new creative challenges, innovative technology, evolution of economic models, etc..)..
I’m excited about this as it represents what I consider, my complete transition into the Communications Industry. And, honestly.. I couldn’t be happier. Sorry to say this Daddy, but you were wrong about the industry! I WILL be able to feed my family. Maybe not now,,but eventually!
Below is the program I will be participating in.
I will be live tweeting from the conference using the hashtag #cristal. Look out for my tweets to read insights from the conference, and reply to me (@meinlebanon) if you have any questions or comments you would like me to address to the speakers.
Look out for a recap about the conference on Friday, and I hope at least some of you enjoyed getting to know me a little bit better.