In this series, we talk to 13 industry leaders who have made the jump from Australia to NYC and are kicking it in their fields, from food to media and international advocacy. Here, Jason Maggs, associate director of Invention Studio at Mindshare, reveals what it takes to make it in the city of dreams.
Company: Mindshare is a full-service global media company that develops ever-evolving concepts for businesses across industries like food, fashion, and media.
From: Cairns, Queensland
Why New York? I used to tell my parents that one day I would get my dream job and move to New York City. For me it was always a symbol of achievement and intrigue.
Did you have a job lined up when you arrived? In Sydney, I received an ‘employee of the year’ award and, as a reward, I was given the opportunity to work for a week from any of our agencies around the world. Of course I chose New York. During my week in the office, I worked hard to make a lasting impression. Fortunately, the plan paid off and the New York team gave me an offer to return. It took nearly six months of negotiating contracts and working with lawyers before my fiancé and I packed our apartment up and made the move.
Have you had any difficulties with your visa? It [the E3] has to be renewed every two years, but is by far the most versatile visa.
What’s a typical day at the office? One day I could be responding to a brief for big ideas for an automotive client; the next day I could be running a creativity workshop for one of our ice-cream brands; another we will be working on a new business pitch.
How does the US differ to Australia? Size. The size is still intimidating and somewhat baffling. I recently worked on a Super Bowl campaign that had a peak audience of 115 million people. Just a few more eyeballs than the 2.5 million that watched the Aussie Rules grand final! With these large audiences also come large budgets, which again remind me I am in a completely different market.
What do you miss about Australia? I miss that salty, dry and sunburnt skin feeling you get after a long day at the beach. Your feet have copped third-degree burn from the road, your car is full of sand and everything smells like sunscreen. I miss that summer feeling. I miss my family and friends, but most of all my baby niece, Frankie. And I miss the Australian sarcasm.
Your best advice for Aussies moving to New York? In my first week of living in New York I was walking downtown with a mate. While I was waiting patiently for the pedestrian light to turn white from the safety of the sidewalk, locals (and my mate who now operates like a local), all stood on the road; the traffic flying by. Like bulls at a gate, they step off the sidewalk and wait for the first break in traffic. New Yorkers are all about the hustle. They are looking for that one-centimetre advantage; and constantly taking that one step further.
Has it been easy to make local friends or do you have an Aussie posse? I live within a one-mile radius of just about all my Australian mates. My fiancé and I both promised each other that we would not become those Aussies in New York who only hang out with Australians… we are working on it.