Larry Castro Nadorra: Copywriter

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Name: Larry Castro Nadorra

Age: 23

College & Majors/Minors: AB English with focus on Linguistics, Literature and Language Teaching

Current Location: Manila, Philippines

Current Form of Employment: Copywriter at Cre8 IFC Inc.

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work for a Singapore-based digital design agency which specializes in annual reports. As a copywriter, my task is to conceptualize the design of annual reports while providing taglines and text for the inside pages. I also do some ghost writing for CEOs and chairmen for their corporate statements whenever I’m assigned one. I’ve been doing this job for more than a year now and so far I have been able to meet the expectations of clients whose businesses are listed in the Singapore Stock Exchange. They range from technical/industrial, food processing, textile and etc.

Probably the best thing about my job is that I get to be creative in different levels depending on the client. Most of them tend to be conservative and would want to reflect that in their reports while others would want something different and would demand a more creative approach. While there isn’t exactly a wrong design, the challenge I’m faced with as a copywriter is trying to make ends meet, finding a way to incorporate your own creativity with what the client wants. It’s never easy but along the way this helps me understand the taste and style of clients and makes work less stressful eventually. 

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

I found my first job when I applied as a copywriter for a local KPO company in Makati, the central business district of the country. All my life I had lived in the comfort of a small city in an island south of the Philippines, where the beach and the mountains are just less than an hour away from where everybody was living. I didn’t tell my father of my plans of getting a job outside my hometown and when I finally dropped the bomb I was glad that he was supportive. However, I was only allowed to go for the interview if I had at least three other interviews in different companies. This proved to be a challenge because for someone fresh out of college, the better jobs most likely went to those who studied in the country’s top university, almost all of which are located in the capital, Manila. The competition was tough and all I had to bank on was my degree, my ambition and a lot of humility. 

When I finally went for the interview, I realized that in some way, I was fighting for a job against applicants with much relevant experience than I had. I was nervous, knowing that my resume alone will not land me the job. So when it was time for me to be interviewed, I made it a point never to sell myself cheap. In one way or another, I managed to explain to the interviewer that my background in the liberal arts allows me to think critically and creatively while keeping yourself composed and well-rounded in any environment. Those weren’t the exact words I used but it was something to that effect.

A few days later, I got the confirmation and found myself working with amazing people, analyzing news and economic trends that would affect the reputation of many multi-national companies. I did this for about a year and seven months before moving on to my current job.

When I decided to take the next step in my career path, I saw a job opening for a copywriter position in a new company to be based here in Manila. I thought this opportunity to be a pioneer employee was too good to pass out so I sent an application and got scheduled for an interview. I was pretty excited about this because I thought that this job would allow me to gain experience in a more creative field. The company was also willing to send their employees to work in the main office in Singapore for exposure so this definitely was a plus. Since my employer has yet to establish an office in the Philippines then, I was interviewed in their hotel room where I was made to conceptualize and materialize a sample cover art and tagline for one of their clients on top of the copywriting exam. My heart sunk to rock bottom when I had to do this for a few hours and fortunately I was able to accomplish it despite not having any background in graphic design. The confirmation came after two weeks and the rest is history.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

Among the more recent and highly relevant writing assignments I had would probably be writing for corporate messages for clients. Most of the time, the heads of many companies don’t have the time to share their message to stakeholders and they rely on the services of creative design agencies to do the writing for them. In my first year of work, I wasn’t given this task because I was still learning on my own. (Mentorship is not that easy when there is no direct supervision.) It was only this year when I was assigned to write a draft and it was for one of the company’s long-time clients. The pressure was definitely intense because I really had to give it my best shot to keep the client satisfied. While this proved to be challenging at first, I guess it helped that I got used to doing a lot of client research and keeping myself updated on any new developments. When I submitted my first draft, I thought it was total mess but when I got it back for revision I was relieved to find only a few. From this experience I learned to trust in my abilities and to continue on developing style suited for such writing assignments.   

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?  

In my junior year of college, I volunteered to be the stage manager/apprentice director for our Dramatics and Stagecraft class. My professor, who is a practitioner in theatre arts, was in the process of making a theatrical deconstruction of Oedipus Rex based on the context of Muslim Mindanao culture. At first I was planning to audition for one of the roles in the play but then decided to take on a more challenging position as the stage manager. It was really crazy to say the least. For the entire semester I had to manage my time effectively in order to comply with requirements and obligations from different classes and organizations. But in the end it all paid off because we exceeded our professor’s expectations and paved the way for the refinement of the production which was to be performed during the seasonal tour of our school’s theatre group. This was one of the most valuable experiences I had in college since it allowed me to hone my people skills while testing my ability to maintain a balance in my academic and extra-curricular life. 

My experience as a practice teacher also helped me significantly in my career. Before, I was less enthusiastic about this because of the amount of work and effort you need to exert to help students learn. We even took the extra mile and climbed on top of a hill to reach a school as part of our extension activity to help the less fortunate. This went on for several months and it changed my perspective on what it means to be a teacher. Through this I learned how to be professional despite the least ideal of circumstances and to take a step further in giving the best of what you can offer.   

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

To my fellow English majors, I’d like to share this quote from Jenine Weyrauch. "You are not the product of your circumstances, but rather, you are the product of your choices." Don’t just settle for what is available. Take a gamble and pursue your passions. While the career path for us is not definite, this allows for more opportunities to choose from. In the end, the most important thing we can take with us is not only the theories we learned from the classroom, but also the values and the many pearls of wisdom we have inculcated while finishing our degree.

Visit Larry's blog, oohlalarry, and connect with him on LinkedIn.


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Posted on June 10, 2014 and filed under Copywriting, Writing.