Sara Uhelski, 28, is a Brazilian Copywriter finishing her studies at Miami Ad School San Francisco and one of this year’s Future Lions winners. She used to be a journalist and it took her four years (and three months covering a season of Big Brother Brazil) to find out it wasn’t her thing.
What was your first ever job?
My first job as a reporter was at Folha de S. Paulo, a Brazilian newspaper. I covered the bars section of a weekly magazine that came with the newspaper, so my job was basically to visit new bars in the city, try their food and drinks undercover and later write about it.
Why did you go into advertising?
Having worked as a journalist made me see I enjoyed the creative part of the job much more than the other ones. I realised I had fun solving problems and writing way before that, as a teenager, when I started winning things like a guitar and a plasma TV writing answers for some contests promoted by MTV. At the time it was pure fun, and it took me a while to figure out it could also be a career.
How did you clinch your first job?
In 2011 I decided to try to switch from journalism to advertising, but I didn’t have a portfolio or connections in the industry. The only thing I had to show was an article a colleague wrote about me and the contests I used to win in the past. A friend of a friend was one of the partners of this agency in Sao Paulo and I sent him an email saying I was looking for a job, with that article attached. They called me for an interview and two weeks later I started working there. Six months later I moved to the US and then started school, so hopefully soon I will be able to tell you about my first job here.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It sounds like a cliché, but the whole thing about never being too late to start over worked really well for me. Looking back, giving up a career that wasn’t making me happy was a great choice. I may not be the youngest person in school right now, but I’m sure I’m doing what I love and working hard to have a new career soon.
How would your typical day play out?
I usually go to school around 11am to meet my partner and spend the day there concepting and playing ping pong. All my classes this quarter start at 7pm, so my day is spent in school. Next month I’ll start interning, so this routine will change.
What do you see as the next big thing?
I agree with what Rei Inamoto called a 365 idea: one that can create 365 days of connection between brands and people. For me, experiences that can engage audiences and solve real problems without being labeled as advertising are the best things in present adverting and I think will shape the future as well.
What do you keep busy with in your spare time, any personal projects?
I try to use my free time to have fun and get some inspiration. That said, my spare time is nothing but ordinary: I enjoy cooking, eating, drinking, reading, watching TV and normal stuff like that.
What inspires you?
Looking at great work inspires me a lot. Work that takes simple insights and transforms them into great and still simple ideas.
If you could share a desk with anyone, who would it be?
This is hard. I guess Luke Sullivan would be a good person to share a desk with. At least I could get some great feedback all the time.
What’s your one piece of advice for young people looking to break into the industry?
I’m still nobody to give advice, but I would say that hard work beats almost everything. Dream big and work really hard. And believe me: it’s never too late to do what you love :)
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