Miami Ad School Grad Ricardo Varela, a Creative Strategist at Facebook, Gives Us an Inside Look
Ricardo interned at Facebook last summer as part of Miami Ad School’s internship program. He impressed them so much that Facebook hired him right after graduation. Ricardo has been working at their Miami office just over three months.
MAS: How did it feel when you walked in on your first day? Are you still in the “I can’t believe I work here” phase?
R: My first day was at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. There were more than 200 new interns at the orientation and the energy and atmosphere were surreal! There was such diversity of disciplines and backgrounds—from engineers and product developers to strategists and creatives. Walking in, you immediately see amazingly-crafted posters on the walls with quotes like “Be Bold,” “Move Fast,” “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” and “Pride Connects Us.”
What I liked most about the experience is that everything had a purpose. That’s when I knew I was in the right place, because that’s how I think about advertising: creative and purposeful.
MAS: So far, what’s your favorite thing about working at Facebook?
R: My favorite thing about working at Facebook is the mission of making the world a more open and connected place. Any business decision made at Facebook is done with this mindset. It’s amazing, and for me, it’s important to work at a company whose mission you believe in.
MAS: What does someone like you—trained to be an Art Director at an ad agency—actually do as a Creative Strategist? What kind of projects do you work on?
R: As a Creative Strategist, I am part of Facebook’s Creative Shop, a global team that helps brands and agencies develop relevant and creative content on Facebook. I leverage what I’ve learned from the Miami Ad School Masters Degree Program (with FIU), my previous work experience, and my Hispanic background to develop insights and ideas that have a deep impact on people’s lives. Having a background in art direction helps me translate these ideas into something tangible, for example achieving greater impact through visuals.
MAS: When you look into your future at Facebook, what do you see? Does working for Facebook give you opportunities that you might not find in the agency world?
R: I believe Facebook will become even more relevant in the advertising world in the near future because of the shift to mobile and the way people are consuming and engaging content is constantly changing.
I do think the agency world and Facebook have differences; I don’t see them as being competitive but complementary. At Facebook we value our creative agency partners and build our advertising products with the creative community.
MAS: What would advice would you give someone looking to join Facebook?
R: Apply! The team is growing and Facebook is always seeking new talent. Also, it’s important to have projects in your portfolio that are true to you. Even if they are not big brands, these are the easiest ones to “sell” because you actually believe in them. For example, creating the branding identity or a campaign for a local business or association you are fond of will have a bigger impact on your portfolio and in your interviews—so my advice is to be your authentic self.