As a college student majoring in hospitality leadership, Jose Juarez fell in love with advertising after realizing “advertising is essentially storytelling.” Instead of discounting his newfound passion as an impulse, he followed his heart, but not without a lot of hard work, determination and grit.
For Juarez, when it comes to advertising, it’s about much more than selling something. He is fascinated by all of the work it takes to make an ad. It’s challenging and simultaneously stimulating for Juarez.
“I look at advertisements like pieces of art because there’s so much that goes behind it. It’s data driven; it’s scientifically constructed, there’s a formula, you research, you plan, you test. And hopefully everything you’ve planned will make it successful. For me it’s not about selling items, it’s about empowering customers to do something. It’s the psychological aspect,” he said.
Juarez has big career aspirations. “I would love to be an advertising account director, not just for one brand, but managing people who are working together toward the same goal, leading them toward the goal,” he said.
He also plans to stay in Chicago.
“Chicago is home to me,” said Juarez, who grew up in San Francisco in a large family and will be the first to graduate from college. He was drawn to Chicago because of its hardworking vibe.
Despite being far from home, Juarez knew he found the right college when he saw the small class sizes during his first visit to DePaul. “The faculty knew the 17 students by name. It was intimate, and everyone was working so well together,” he said. He was also impressed by DePaul’s study abroad options, connections to Chicago and internship opportunities.
“Studying in Budapest was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It seemed like the most unique option, and Eastern Europe is very interesting to me,” he said. “They also offered tourism and hospitality courses, and I was able to complete my business electives.”
In 2011, as a hospitality leadership major, Juarez received a hospitality management internship with Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You, a company that owns, licenses and manages more than 100 restaurants nationally.
The internship experience turned into a full-time job in which Juarez was able to be part of a restaurant makeover and a delicatessen launch. “I love the relationship between food and culture,” he said, “but I realized I wasn’t passionate about the (hospitality) path I’d chosen.” He decided to put school on hold.
His twin brother, Xavier, who for a time studied film at Columbia College in Chicago, had a huge influence on Jose. “Being on set with him got me thinking about advertising. I was always with him when he was working on sets, I would revise scripts for him,” said Juarez.
After doing his own research, Juarez re-enrolled at DePaul to major in advertising in the College of Communication. To Juarez, the switch from hospitality leadership to advertising was a natural change.
Juarez relied on the support of his professors as he navigated a full course load and two jobs. He completed his studies in March and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations and advertising.
In true Juarez fashion, he has not slowed down since. He accepted a full-time assistant account executive position with FCB, one of the major advertising agencies in Chicago. His accounts include Anheuser Busch and Jack Daniels.
When not busy working or plotting his next career move, Juarez likes to take photos. He gets his inspiration from everything that surrounds him and the Art Institute of Chicago, one of his favorite places. “I try to go there as much as I can because it’s insane how much history they pack into those walls. There’s a great preservation of culture. I really enjoy it.”
He was encouraged by his twin brother to find a creative outlet. Besides getting enjoyment out of snapping photos of his adopted city, it’s his way of decompressing and seeing Chicago from a new angle.
“There’s something about Chicago that does not make you want to leave.”
One in a series of stories about graduates from the Class of 2015
Wendy Zamaripa Smit