After seven rounds of interviews and a case competition, I landed one of the 13 spots of PepsiCo’s Sales Associate Rotational Program. The program was going to be 4 years long and I would be rotated to different cities with each role. I was going to be placed in Southern California for my first rotation and given a company car. It was my dream to move down to Southern California after graduation and to travel so I knew I had to take the role. Little did I know that I would end up leaving my first job out of college in a year..
My first year in the real world was probably the most challenging life experiences I’ve ever had.
I made every mistake you could probably make in your first job, I cried multiple times, and I was extremely stressed out. So let me tell you how I knew I needed to leave my first job….
My first job as a retail sales rep was very simple: sell and build as many Gatorade and Quaker Oats displays as I could to grocery and store managers. My goal was to always come in as the top salesperson in the territory.
One of the first lessons I learned in my first job was that I did not fit well with the PepsiCo Sales culture.
My business unit ranked the retail sales people and published a monthly/quarterly list. The ranking system was one way the company/leadership motivated its sales teams to sell more and more each year. While some people really enjoyed this type of motivation, I did not. I knew going into the job that I’m motivated to achieve, not motivated to win or beat others. But I wanted to give sales a try because I had majored and marketing and sales in college.
My first 3 months in the job were rough… but after figuring out my selling style and developing relationships with my 31 grocery stories, it did get easier. By the end of my second quarter (6 months), I was ranked 2nd on our scorecard. And by the end of the 1st quarter of 2015 (9 months), I was ranked number one.
Even as my numbers came in, I didn’t feel more fulfilled or motivated by the scorecard – because again, I’m motivated to achieve, not to beat the next person next to me.
Aside from the company culture, I also learned from this experience that just because I can perform well in job, doesn’t mean I enjoy it or want to do it.
Even though I’m thankful I learned how to build positive relationships with my customers, I also learned that I don’t get a kick out of selling more pallets of food into grocery stores. I realized that in 9 months into the role that I didn’t necessarily enjoy sales either. I decided that I could take relationship building and my emotional intelligence skills into any role I take on.
Which leads me to my next reason on why I knew I needed to leave my first job: I couldn’t get excited about the product.
I don’t know about you, but Quaker Oats and Gatorade are both cool brands, but to me they’re still groceries at the end of the day. I was stressed out the entire year about making sure I had enough displays of Chewy Bars, Life Cereal, and Gatorade stands. And I realized I didn’t want an entire career about stressing out about these food products…
I had completed two internships for the Boeing Company where I supported all airplane programs in my Flight Services and Supplier Management internships. I realized that I understand the importance of airplanes in both the commercial and defense industry. Personally, I could see a long term career supporting airplanes more than I did supporting food.
So for me, the culture, the business function (sales), and the product were all signs that helped me decide to leave my first job. Additionally, I knew I wanted to get my master’s degree these next few years. I felt called to go back to Boeing because the Boeing Company pays for you entire master’s degree while PepsiCo didn’t even cover a 1/3 of tuition.
If you’re debating whether or not your current job is a fit, here are a few signs that show it may be time to leave your current job:
When you wake up unhappy every morning
A big indication of when you know it’s time to move on and leave your first job/or current job is if you wake up unhappy every day. If you aren’t motivated or see the relevance in coming to work, you may not be happy or satisfied with your work situation.
When you are no longer learning or challenged – aka you’re bored.
Whether you’ve been in your role one year or five years, if you feel like you are no longer learning in your role, it’s time to move on. If you find you’re bored or looking for a new challenge, you may need to start looking for a new opportunity to be challenged.
If the company culture is not a good fit
Does your team have a work hard play hard mentality? Does your management team motivate the organization by ranking individuals? Or does your team put in long hours that extend into the weekend?
The way your management motivates employees and the attitude your team has towards work are all a part of the company culture. I’ve found that if the company culture fits my life style, I’m much happier. Personally, I strive for a balance lifestyle. I do work hard at work but it’s also important for me to have time for myself to work out and blog outside of work.
Company goals aren’t aligned with yours
For some people it can be very challenging to work in an industry or support a company whose products, services or goals aren’t in line with yours. For instance, in my experience I couldn’t get excited about selling more Gatorade or Quaker Oats.
You may be able to support a product service or goal that may not be aligned with your goals and values. But you should know that you don’t have to.
You’re burnt out
Working tons of hours, demanding deadlines, and not having time for you at the end of the day or week are all signs that you’re burnt out. If you’re feeling like you can’t unwind or you’re exhausted from work all of the time or unmotivated to get to work each day, you may be burnt out.
Personally in my experience, I was working on average of 50 hours a week. I knew I wanted more work life balanced so I knew I needed to leave my first job.
The work environment is toxic
If you have a struggling relationship with your manager, team, or leadership, or have demanding expectations without the resources or support to succeed, it can be very challenging to strive to be a top performer. You will know if your work environment is toxic. If you’re witnessing people getting thrown underneath the bus during meetings or people living in fear in the office, it may be time to rethink what time of environment you want to work in.
If you recognized that it’s time to leave your job, here are: 10 steps to figure out your next step in your career.
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Thank you for reading!
Photos: Holly Phan