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6 Weeks at Digitaria

By Emma Bass , Account Manager
Sep 10, 2014

When I was invited to participate in JWT’s In Your Shoes program, to swap with Senior Account Manager Ashley Dutcher at Digitaria in San Diego, I thought I’d hit the jackpot. After six weeks at Digitaria, I know I did.

I never imagined I’d participate in a life swap; it seemed much more like something out of a movie. You are not only handing over your job, but also your home, friends and family. In fact, I don't think it actually hit me that the whole thing was really happening, until I emptied out my kitchen food cupboard, leaving only things Ashley may want during her stay. Added to this, while Ashley and I participated in many Google Hangouts leading up to the swap, we had never actually met.  

When I arrived, Digitaria’s CEO Dan Khabie told me that I would have an amazing journey while I was in San Diego, and he could not have been more right. I’ve learned an incredible amount, not only about digital advertising, but also about different ways of working and interacting with co-workers.  

Highlights of my trip have been far too many to list here. However, crossing the boarder to go wine tasting in Mexico; beach days on Pebble Beach; and (despite almost breaking my leg) surfing were amongst the most memorable.  

The things I’ll miss about Digitaria are countless, but the people definitely come in at number one. Everyone here has really opened up his or her life to me not only at work, but also outside of work. I can hardly thank the number of people who have helped me, and welcomed me into their homes and lives. I feel as through I’ve really made some friends for life.

A few of the many other things I’ll definitely miss from Digitaria include: 

· The digital passion and expertise. Everyone here is genuinely passionate and knowledgeable about their field, and it's been incredible to sit in on the more technical meetings and experience how these projects operate.  

·  A culture of openness. It may be something about the size of the agency, but the environment at Digitaria is very un-hierarchical. There are very few offices, so the partners sit in amongst the teams.

· The fridge! It gets restocked every day with every type of soft drink imaginable, as well as snacks. I’ve never eaten so many cheese strings. 

·  The view. I will miss the sea, the Padres stadium and being able to look out over Coronado.  

As for San Diego, I can see why so many people I’ve met arrive for a short stay, only to never leave. While everyone works hard here, there’s a real focus on quality of life. Perhaps it’s something to do with the perfect weather. With so much more to do outdoors, the people who live here really take time to make the most of their location and the lifestyle that goes along with it.  

Some things have surprised me about my experience: 

- People don’t go to the beach every day. Apparently when you have to go to work, living near the beach is not quite the same as being on holiday! 

- Two blocks is considered a long way to walk, most people would rather drive.  

- Starbucks really is an institution, there is even one in the grocery store in case you can't shop without a caffeine fix.  

I‘ve always wanted to try living abroad, because I wanted to prove to myself that I could succeed alone in a new place. What I’ve realized is that it’s the people you meet who make the place you live. I’ve become better at asking for help when I need it, and have realized that sometimes it’s OK to slow down a bit and enjoy the moments; it’s the things you don't expect that you often enjoy the most.

I’ll definitely go back to London full of a new appreciation of the city. Seeing Ashley really make the most of her time has inspired me to get out more. I have taken for granted the wealth of museums and theatres London has. I’m really excited to share everything I’ve learned at Digitaria, and hope this will make me a better employee, with a much stronger understanding of not only digital process, but extensive resources available through the JWT global network.