The time finally came. After a few months playing the waiting game, the dreaded email popped up in my inbox. To say I was surprised at the outcome wouldn’t be completely true. We went into this knowing that there was a risk that it wouldn’t go through and we somewhat planned accordingly. We applied, followed all the steps, but even if you do everything right there’s still a chance that you wont get it. It just so happens by the luck of the draw, that I got the short stick. My new work visa application didn’t go through and I will not be returning to Tampa to work with the agency this year.
Even though some would feel totally bummed with such news, I can honestly say I don’t. I have no reason to. I will be leaving a ton of my friends back in Tampa for a while, but I’m so excited for what the future holds in store for me.
Before I get too deep into what’s next, I would first like to start off by saying thank you to my SPARK family for their TREMENDOUS support over the last two years.
When hundreds (literally) of people didn’t take the risk on the international kid, they did. They not only decided to take a chance on me, but everyone at the agency was willing to teach their different crafts and offer me their friendship with open arms. They gave me the tools and opportunities to dive deeper into design, strategy and branding by working from so many different and exciting projects and for that I am so grateful. At a time where I second guessed my self frequently, they reinstalled my confidence and reinforced in my mind that this is something I definitely will be doing for a long time to come.
My relationship with the agency is not over; we will continue to collaborate and build great experiences in the future. After all, we still have a Lion we have to get. I will definitely be missing the day to day and the more than occasional Happy Hour, but I know I will always have a home there.
So What’s Next?
I’m fortunate enough to have a career that allows me to work from anywhere, just as long as I have a decent internet connection and some good coffee. To finally learn that you can find inspiration anywhere and anything is a blessing in itself.
The experience working remote with the agency while I was awaiting the decision has helped me a ton. You definitely have to go through some new challenges in order to learn the new dynamic before you can finally catch your stride, but it was worth every moment of it.
While working remote, I also began taking on few projects on my own in my new role, using what I’ve learned to help others in their endeavors and eventually getting some pretty awesome projects for myself.
My “semi-freelance” escapades have taught me a lot over the last few months. Testing my limits, teaching me a few things about myself and picking up a few skills a long the way. I quickly learned that you can’t take on everything, but at the same time, you learn you own limitations (and in most cases your strengths) and you get better at doing what you do.
So what’s next I guess is what I always wanted to do: I am going to continue freelancing and focus on my own web development consultancy and special projects. I strongly feel now more than ever this is my opportunity to help a wider range of people on a deeper level and learn so much more.
I will also be partnering up with a few other talented individuals, both locally and internationally, on some very cool projects coming up so I will be busier than ever trying to push the web forward. You’ll be hearing more and more from me at my blog, so be prepared.
From the first time I left to go back to Tampa up to now I have a better feeling of self control and responsibility that I didn’t think I could have before. Looking back on how much I’ve learned and how much people I was able to help during the short amount of time reinforces that this is where I’m meant to me.
There are also a few specific goals I have in mind for the next few years that I’m growing to be more and more passionate about:
Building A Community
“Stay over there.” “Don’t come back, ”“There’s nothing home to come to,” “Is there a market for what you do back home?” Too many times have I’ve heard conflicting comments like this. Sadly enough that how a lot of my native and international colleagues feel about the Bahamas.
Being home now is completely different than what I used to feel about it before. I will admit it took me a while to see this, though. If you asked me a year ago, I would have told you otherwise. I’ve been lucky enough to come to the the point of my career to realize that opportunity is created, not given. You’d be surprised (as I was) that there is a ton of opportunities, you just have to be willing to go out there and find them.
That’s why a few of my friends and I started Shift The Culture, a group of creatives who come together and share our experiences to learn from one another. I feel this is necessary in order to change our nation’s current outlook on how we look at things back here. There are tons of us out there too talent and too creative to settle for what we are not passionate about. Everyone has stories and talents to share and everyone should have a platform to express them, and it all starts with us coming together and being willing to share with one another.
Inspiring New Generations
Back in high school I didn’t have much the fundamentals of programming that I picked up while I was in the states. This is something I plan to change immediately. Code literacy is too important not to be explored in the age we live in and the kids coming out of school are not getting adequate exposure.
Working with a few others, we started web development workshops with a few people interesting in learning web design. This is my first swing at showing others the potentials of the programming and I’m learning how to better equip them with what they need to know to have fulfilling careers if they choose to go down the technology route.
When they go off to get a higher education, they will be better equipped to compete with others in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) fields and move forward to building the future of our country, so that the kid’s back here can have a better chances for opportunities I had to fight for myself.
So there you have it. No doubt there is a world full of mix feelings and emotions. It’s a long(er) road ahead of me, but I’m confident that it will get done. I’m excited and scared as shit all at the same time. I will be solo, but I’m not really going alone; I’ve had a community of people both near and far behind me showing support and willing to share their knowledge this whole time. Now more than ever, I will be doing the same in return. With that being said, I will close out with a cheesy quote from a famous movie that sums out what the future looks like to me:
“If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.” — Life of Pi
Thank you all for sticking it out with me this far. Stay tuned.