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

Love,

Emma

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous
    February 2, 2017 / 8:44 pm

    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.

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