“EXPECT A WILD YEAR”—the words uttered for my 2012 horoscope according to the ancient Chinese zodiac Year of the Water Dragon.  I had no idea that my 3 years of Mandarin Chinese studies had given me wise words of wisdom to better prepare for 龙年.

Year of the Dragon, and since the Dragon is said to be a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority, those people born in Dragon years are to be honored and respected. The dragon is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar, and it is the only animal that is termed ‘legendary’. The Year of the Dragon is associated with the earthly branch symbol. The Dragon is the fifth sign in the Chinese Horoscope and signifies luck.

People under the sign of the dragon are lively, intellectual, energetic and excitable.  After a weird experience of when I was suppose to go to Monterey, Mexico for a lively 2 year MBA fast track analyst rotation program around South America due to my safety, I found a warmer welcoming from the Latino community here in Atlanta.  The pure culture shock of dealing with immigration and understanding the importance of this energetic community further excited my passion for Hispanic Marketing and increasing my fluency in Spanish.

Between the constant translation from weekly Spanish classes and real world Latino issues, my financial struggle and the hidden pockets of giving, it’s hard not to paint my experience at the Latin American Association as life changing.  In fact, that’s why I was inspired to tell my story called “Cambios en la Vida” that shows how I helped change lives for a non-profit that is integrating Latino immigrants into American society as workers, family members, students, and leaders as a community that welcomes them and values their contributions.

I felt I was owed a full-time job after my time their as a Communications and Social Media intern, but no luck.  This taught me the lesson to know the ROI of your degree, because no one hands things to you in the real world without experience.  However, when dragons are met with difficulties, they are not discouraged.  They usually have great ambition and an ingenuous personality.  It was Athens, my home, where I went for events like “Careers in Social Media,” “Three Keys to Expertise,” and the PESA Summit to instill faith that my career would take shape.

Realizing that I always had things to learn and that I lacked the experience as a marketing professional were things that took time for me to grasp.  I was fortunate to seek guidance from the Visionary of Insightpool and a Creative Director of OPTEC USA, where I was immersed in social media.  During the time when most were enjoying the sunshine of summer, I found myself sometimes working 50-hour weeks to just pay off my debt from the 6 months of making no money at the LAA.

I trained myself how to use a DSLR camera to produce 12 YouTube videos and learned how Twitter is changing the future of communications, and continued to take Spanish classes.  I was managing two jobs, which I will never do again, communicating with clients on one end to meet goals and locking myself in a room where I might not talk to anyone at work all day just so I could learn to better understand video production. I could have just told my boss to outsource for a professional videographer or saved myself from driving Lawrenceville to Buckhead to Athens, but I was driven and hungry.

What was most important during this time was my recollection of relationships.

I learned how building relationships in the business world takes time and even if you go above and beyond for a given client, that doesn’t mean you’ll keep their business.  In October, I was so stressed working two jobs; I left Insightpool before going on a two-week business trip to Boston, Massachusetts.  I have continued to stay in contact with the team and plan to because I know that their company will make it one day as a startup.

It’s the happiness cloud that cushions a millennial, rendering a magnificent feeling of security and joy for work everyday. I spent two amazing weekends at Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Conference and AOPA National Assembly, where I found myself unhappy even amongst lobsters, sailing, and again realizing that I needed a company that believed in me and could help me grow towards my dream of International Marketing.

Dragons are not afraid of difficulties but hate to be used or controlled by others.  I felt that I had worked hard, but finished another independent contractor position with no future in sight.  I left OPTEC USA after implementing a successful social media program, but know that they helped me when others wouldn’t in our economy and left gracefully thanking them for every opportunity they had given me.

I went back to Atlanta the second time around, staying in contact with Insightpool, and hunting for something more.  I networked my tail off, listening to speakers at Digital Atlanta about how the future of Atlanta was in store for becoming known as a Digital Media Hub and taking the time to develop my content marketing distribution.

This was the year content marketing went from jargon to reality for me, with businesses of every size re-imagining what marketing could look like.  I worked with brands like NCR, Fresh to Order, Univision, CNN, Telemundo, and handful of others that were transforming from traditional marketing to seeing how social media is becoming a lifestyle for my millennial generation.

From the allure of building a direct relationship with prospective customers and clients, to smarter public relations strategies, to social media sharing, to SEO – content are what works.   Content creation becomes easier for me the more I practice.  You need to write a lot — every day, if you can — in order to produce great content and become a better writer.

The boom in online content marketing will drive thousands of writers to control their own destinies. Not just as in-house staff or freelancers, but as owners of consulting firms and agencies.  It’s important to take care of the followers you already have.  Brands come back to people  Think about your reader.  Provide attention and value to people.  Unique, authentic, and influence.  Authenticity is important.  Our lives are composed of connections.  “Everything in Internet Marketing is measurable.”  You need to think about retention of your customers in terms of their average customer lifetime value.

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