“Change is the only constant.”
A phrase I would soon learn to be at the epicenter of growth at DS.
The start of my career path was far from this idea. I graduated from the Gabelli School of Business at Roger Williams University, majoring in marketing with plans to pursue a career in academia. Flash forward to the summer after graduation. I was preparing for a brand new semester at The University of Rhode Island to pursue an MBA in Strategic Innovation.
My plans to continue the academic career path halted when I started to question where my true passion lay. As a naturally curious person I enjoyed research, learning, and teaching others. But was a PhD really the next step to fulfill my passions?
During my time in academia, I worked my way up in different campus organizations, took on student leadership responsibilities, and led projects. I had all of these accomplishments and accolades behind me and became comfortable with that. But was this it? Had I reached my fullest potential? There was no doubt in my mind that there was more to learn. I needed a new challenge and I knew I needed to get uncomfortable again.
In academia, I found myself unquestionably enjoying internships and experiential learning projects. It wasn’t until I reflected on these experiences that I realized I thrived on the unpredictability of “real world” situations. The hands-on learning, both inside and outside of the classroom, taught me tenfold what any theories had. The path I thought I knew was wrong. The path I thought I wanted was out the window.
So I changed. I left Rhode Island, I left academia. I left the idea of what I thought I wanted behind.
Unexpectedly, I ended up two and a half hours down I-95 in New Haven, CT, where I suddenly found myself being offered an exciting opportunity at a digital marketing agency, Digital Surgeons.
At Digital Surgeons, I was a blank slate.
At the first interview, Pete Sena ripped up my resume. His intention was not to intimidate or insult my past work. He was making a bigger point. Pete cared more about who I was in that moment and the person I would bring to the job. All of my hard work and pride shredded into little pieces right in front of my eyes. And it excited me!
When I was offered the position of a Creative Strategist I was being handed the opportunity to start all over again. They were going to push me, “drown me,” wipe away all the things I thought I knew. Some may have seen this as an insult but I took this as an opportunity to be challenged, to change my perspective, to grow as a human — to change.
When I joined, there was a palpable change in the air. I was told not to get too comfortable because on my second day we were moving desks to better integrate employees across all disciplines and levels. At the end of my first week I was introduced to “team of teams;” a relatively new concept that disrupted the traditional agency workflow.
On the second Friday, I attended my first retrospective meeting (called retros for short), where we look back, learn from our mistakes, and celebrate our wins.
I sat anxiously staring at the the words “Change is the Only Constant” projected in large black letters against a white screen. These retros, spearheaded by founders David Salinas and Pete Sena, cemented this concept. Pete and David started the meeting by announcing David’s new position as CEO of District Ventures and founder Pete Sena as the new CEO of Digital Surgeons, immediately and drastically changing the organization I had just become acquainted with.
My role as both a creative strategist and employee at Digital Surgeons requires flexibility and adaptability. As a creative strategist I combine my aptitude for qualitative research and consumer behavior with quantitative research, strategy, and a plethora of tactics to optimize content and grow demand.
As an employee I am enduring change personally and professionally. With each day at Digital Surgeons my perspective is constantly evolving, my skillsets are growing and I am learning something new.
While Digital Surgeons continues to embrace change, what remains the same is the passion— a truly unique environment with extremely talented people who love what they do. In order to succeed at Digital Surgeons you need to accept change. For example, you need to be okay with the unstructured schedules and seating charts. But above all else, you have to go with the flow and be okay adapting to new situations.
In the first 30 days at Digital Surgeons I’ve learned to become a person who embraces that change, whether it’s pivoting in a project, assisting in a different practice like design, or simply going with the flow. I learned that in order to grow as a professional you have to get out of your comfort zone and take on challenges no matter how many times you’ve faced them in the past.
Do you climb the same mountain and settle at the top or do you continue your journey to find new peaks, always challenging yourself? I’ve learned that the view is much more beautiful when looked at each day from a different summit.
Because change is the only constant.