One of Working Not Working's very first managers, Christina Mazurowski (or "Maz" as she's sometimes called), is a rockstar recruiter at R/GA, working with Dan de Lord, overseeing creative recruitment in London. Maybe what makes her such a stellar recruiter is her ability to empathize with creatives. While she received a BFA in fine art, Christina eschewed the artist path and became a recruiter through a series of happy accidents. Though she still paints on the side, Christina cherishes that her role as a recruiter surrounds her with creatively inspired people every day,
"I've always seen my career as a long-term goal to facilitate my ability to be a painter. I'd been an artist's assistant for a while at school and it taught me that you don't necessarily have to be an art star in your early twenties in NYC to call yourself an artist. The people who create a life as an artist see it more as a marathon than as a race. I'm just really grateful that I have a career where I'm constantly inspired by the people around me. And that those I meet in the industry will give me advice someday when I need it. You get what you give!
Many recruiters I know come from a similar background, and I think it helps us to come at it from an empathetic place rather than just filling a seat."
How did you start your career?
I knew I wanted to work in the arts but I didn't necessarily want to to do that for a living. The only real plan I had was to get a BFA, move to New York, do the whole starving artist thing and maybe go to grad school to become a professor. But then the recession happened. I was a receptionist at Artisan when one of the associate recruiters ended up leaving. I took her position and had an epiphany: I can help creative people AND get paid!
I learned this business in an unusual time when no one was getting work. I started staffing people when there were more candidates than jobs. For me, I was just so young that I remember wanting to learn as much as I could from all the creatives. I felt like they were helping me just as much as I was helping them.
From there I moved on to the Solomon Page Group creative marketing division. After about a year, I had the opportunity to launch the creative hiring division of JBC Connect, a fashion staffing startup. It was there that I first learned about Working Not Working. Justin and Adam had recently published a press release and I remember saying to my business partner, "Man, this is totally going to put us out of business!" A mutual friend showed me the product and honestly, I was pissed they came up with the idea before I did.
How did you make the move to R/GA?
I was a third party recruiter for R/GA for almost three years. I started at R/GA in January 2014, where I oversaw freelance for North America. This was an amazing opportunity as I got to see all offices across the U.S., getting a real sense of the culture.
Even though joining R/GA was my first time coming in-house, I knew the culture would work well for me after being at a startup for three years. I had been in the third party industry for six years but everything I loved about recruiting was what you do in an internal role and everything I hated (the money, hitting numbers, etc), was in the third party role. I had kind of been waiting to make that change.
At R/GA you get a lot of responsibility and with that, a lot of freedom. As long as you're producing and being innovative and creative, you can pretty much do anything you need to do to get there. Despite its size, its not like any other corporate environment I've worked in.
You recently moved to R/GA London for the year. Tell us about the transition.
I didn't want to leave New York - I joked that i was tricked into it by the London office! When they sent me out there it was originally for a week in June, and then 2 weeks in October. That turned into two months, and I had fallen in love with the culture of the office out there. I'd rather live in New York as a city (I really love my neighborhood), but I find the experience in our London office is really good for me right now.
My style of recruiting doesn't change now that I'm in England since I was already working globally. I didn't have much of network here though so its new and exciting to build that. A challenge all over again!
What's your favorite thing about what you do?
I like that I get to be around creative people every day. Especially at R/GA where everyone is so talented. Also, I don't get burned out creatively at the end of my day. When I come home I still want to paint because I've been inspired by what I've seen at the office. Being around inspirational people is really key.
Given your background in fine art, did you consider being an artist full-time?
I've always seen my career as a long-term goal to facilitate my ability to be a painter. I'd been an artist's assistant for a while at school and it taught me that you don't necessarily have to be an art star in your early twenties in NYC to call yourself an artist. The people who create a life as an artist see it more as a marathon than as a race. I'm just really grateful that I have a career where I'm constantly inspired by the people around me. And that those I meet in the industry will give me advice someday when I need it. You get what you give!
Many recruiters I know come from a similar background, and I think it helps us to come at it from an empathetic place rather than just filling a seat.
Describe R/GA in 3 words
Innovative. Global. Top shelf.
What is it about the culture of R/GA that makes it an ideal place to work?
I always say that when I joined R/GA it felt like I was going back to college or university. I mean that in the most amazing and positive way possible. From the day I stepped foot in the door, I have been elevated, inspired, and empowered in ways I could never have imagined. I suddenly had those nervous butterflies when you realize that everyone in the room is more talented than you – and it was the most exciting thing I had experienced in a long time.
It didn’t stop at day one. I have been given the opportunity to work nationally as well as globally in just my first year. The collaboration within the R/GA global community is something that I didn’t think could exist.
Describe your style of recruiting: how do you like to connect with talent?
I like when recruitment comes from natural, organic connections made from our own personal network. Great talent tends to know great talent – which is why I love using Working Not Working: it’s a network of great talent that vouches for one another.
If you were stranded on a desert island, with your computer, what 3 websites would you take with you?
1. Four Pins
What's your creative outlet?
I got my BFA in painting and drawing at SUNY New Paltz, and I still have a studio in my Queens apartment. I paint and have small shows on the side within the Queens artist community. The Graff scene will always have a huge piece of my heart. I love a good hand style. – (RIP 5 Pointz).
What's your favorite thing on the internet this week?
I know it’s not current – but the “LEFT SHARK” is still my favorite thing on the internet.
Now let's get to the portfolios.
How much time do you spend on each portfolio? And how long before you make a gut reaction on it?
The amount of time I spend on a portfolio is actually dependent on my gut reaction to it. I usually have a feeling within the first 5 seconds of looking at a portfolio. Even if my gut reaction is bad I will spend an additional 3-5 minutes with it just to double-check. I spend more time with those I like. If I find I am spending too much time on a portfolio because I can’t figure it out, that is usually a red flag.
What kind of talent makes you warm inside?
Anyone from the Buffalo, Western New York region. Anyone that loves hockey. The type of candidate that understands our philosophy, and has done research about R/GA ahead of time.
What are you looking for in a creative/portfolio that is unique to R/GA?
At R/GA we pride ourselves on making things easy and accessible for a user. If a creative candidate can’t present in a cohesive and clear manner, it usually won’t be a fit for us. This applies to all disciplines in our eyes.
What advice can you give to our creatives on how to best present themselves?
It’s kind of like dating – don’t try too hard, you’ll look desperate (even if you are not).
Has Working Not Working been helpful?
What I love most about WNW is the talent level. Everyone truly is exceptionally talented. It is the fastest way to find folks who are definitively available.
Any WNW Members whose work you admire?
WNW Member #1850 Guy Seese – he saved us in a pinch and I will forever be grateful.