Tuesday, November 22, 2016

3 Lessons I Learned: Leaving My First Job Out of College

Holly Phan Photography

I have worked and left many jobs. I started working at 16 years old and have worked a total of 16 jobs so far. Some of them were summer jobs, others were summer or spring internships. Some of them were retail, while others were leadership positions within my business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, TEDxUofW, or Victoria’s Secret PINK UW team. I’ve answered phone calls coming from clubs on campus, organized and grew organizations, and even learned how warranty contracts work for airplanes.

When I graduated from college and accepted my job offer from PepsiCo senior year, I thought I wasn’t going to leave that company for at least several years. I planned on finishing PepsiCo’s 4-year Sales Associate Rotational Program. I was going to move to a new city every year and try new jobs. But after 9 months on the job, I learned that the company culture and job/future rotations were not a good fit.

I naively thought leaving a full time job was going to be easy. I thought to myself, “I’m a qualified candidate”. I had four internships in four years plus leadership experience in college. But boy was I wrong… I did not realize the challenges of leaving your first full time job until I was immersed in the experience. So to all of those who left their first jobs out of college or to the new grads who may face this experience, this post is for you.

Here are the lessons I learned leaving my first full time job out of college:

1.       I have to value the product/service my company creates and sells.

One major lesson I learned about my first job out of school and leaving it is that I have to support the product my company sells. I have to be excited about the product and see the relevance it brings to society. I went from seeing and supporting airplanes in production to selling Quaker Oats and Gatorade. I thought I wouldn’t mind selling oatmeal and sports drinks into grocery stores…but then I realized I was just selling groceries.  In my opinion and perspective, I see the relevance and necessity for airplanes more. Without airplanes, imagine how business and personal travel would change. If all airplanes stopped today, how long would it take you to get to Southeast Asia or Europe for your summer vacation?

I think it’s awesome that PepsiCo has so many passionate people selling consumer good items into grocery stores so everyday shoppers can access those products. I learned that I don’t want to be one of those sales managers. I prefer airplanes to groceries. But that’s just me.

2.       Work a full year in your first job.

A piece of advice for any new college grad who’s accepted an offer with a company: give your first job a full year. I did exactly that – I literally passed my one year mark with PepsiCo and turned in my two weeks.

Why should you give your job a full year?

·         You should truly see a full year life cycle in your current job and company.

·         You should experience when your company’s busy season is. For PepsiCo, summers and Super Bowl season for Gatorade were crazy. I was literally working 12 hour days.

·         You should also connect with other people in your company with informational interviews. A 30 minute informational interview can help you learn what jobs you’d like to do or like to avoid in the future. It also helps you build a network.

·         You should give your first job at least a full year, and if you don’t you should give your second job at least a full year so it doesn’t look like you can’t commit to companies or positions.

·         Most importantly, when you’re interviewing with other companies and they’re asking you why you’re leaving your company, you can honestly say that you’ve seen a full year life cycle, the ins-outs of your position/company, and discuss why it’s not a good fit for you.

3.       Applying for a job can be a full time job.

I was 9 months into my first job when I began to seriously take on the job hunt. I had heard that it normally takes new grads/people an average 6 months to find a job. I didn’t realize why it would take so long until I was put in the position.

Finding a new job can absolutely be a full time job. After my 50 hour work week, then working out, I was frantically searching for new opportunities both in Southern California where I was living at the time and back in my home state of Washington. I had been out of college for less than a year and I had to re-learn how to interview and sharpen my interview skills again. Additionally, I was writing cover letters and constantly tailoring my resume to job descriptions. Then after applying, I was taking phone screens during lunch and scheduling interviews on top of working full time...

Applying for a full time job out of school is so different then when you’re currently in college. At the UW Foster School of Business, employers would flock to campus and hold networking events, come speak at clubs, and come for job fairs. In the real world, I learned to really rely on the network I built up in Seattle and also on LinkedIn. I was requesting informational interviews with people I connected with on LinkedIn and asking all of my friends at their companies for possible job opportunities.
I applied for 60+ jobs and only got 3 offers. That’s a .05% success rate. (This experience still makes me wince). So if you’re out there looking for opportunities, I feel your struggle. Keep grinding and if you have any questions or advice, please ask me!
Outfit Details:
Pants – H&M
Purse – Kate Spade
Striped Shirt – Zara
Necklace – Nordstrom Rack
Flats – Nine West/Marshalls
Thank you for reading! J

1 comment :

  1. THANK YOU. Just graduated from UW too and I am currently going thru this struggle and it seriously made me feel so much better reading this and knowing I'm not the only one going thru all of it. And keep doing what you're doing. Such beautiful content.