Like a lot of college graduates, I didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduation so instead of my graduation ceremony being a culmination, it served to remind me that I didn’t have a plan for my post-college career. This is the story of how I figured out what I wanted to do after I took my marketing internship with FirstJob.
First things first, academia is great for lots of things, but it had done a lackluster job of preparing me for professional life. Within the first couple of days of working in my new role, I realized that I didn’t even know what I didn’t know (Can you believe there are 1,000’s of different third-party email providers?). I'd worked in multiple research labs throughout college, but I realized that a company of eight people was going to be a very different experience.
In those first days, I was both astonished and excited. There was so much to do, and so much to learn! Everything I did had an immediate impact on the company. Just a few weeks into my internship, I knew I had made the right choice, and I knew that I wanted to land a full-time gig with them. As one of the first employees at a startup, I would have the opportunity to make a huge impact and help build something wonderful. Also, I wanted to make rent.
Hey, we all gotta eat right?
The Good Stuff
So how did I transform myself from a lowly intern into a full-time marketing employee at a tech startup? Looking back, these are the main things that I attribute to my success, and can be applied to any entry-level/internship role:
I actively asked for feedback from my coworkers. Some of the most candid and useful feedback I ever received was given to me over coffee, bagels, Jamba juice, chips ‘n guac, you name it. Your fellow coworkers can also give valuable insights into how you’re doing - and probably wouldn’t mind the food break. Remember, people are more likely to be in an amicable mood when they’re eating something tasty. You’ll get brownie points for doing this as it showcases not only your maturity but also your willingness to learn.
Second, I made sure to schedule a weekly meeting with my manager where so that I could talk about my progress, how I could improve, and ask for new tasks to learn new skills (Adwords account maintenance anyone?). I made sure to prepare for these weekly meetings and ask smart questions, and I believe these paved the way for further responsibilities and project ownership.
The last thing I did (which sounds like common sense, but wasn’t quite emphasized at school) was simply to value other peoples’ time. A large part of entry-level jobs is just proving that you can be an adult, show up to work on time, meet your deadlines and not hold back your team with procrastination or oversleeping. It was vitally important for me, especially because the company I had joined was so small. Everyone had so much to do, and forcing them to cover my responsibilities without warning would have really set things back. Of course, you’re only human. If you know you will be late, make sure you communicate properly with your manager.
Drink your coffee.
TLDR; No matter what role or specialty you’re in, one of the top things your employer wants to see out of you when you’re in an entry-level position is that you can be a responsible and openly communicate with the team.
So be responsible, humble and eager to learn. Of course, there are a myriad of other factors to take into account such as whether or not the company has a need for your skillset in a full-time capacity, if the budget exists for a full-time hire in your department, etc. Those factors are more or less outside of your control. That’s not saying that they are immutable –if you show your value to the company through strong work ethic and adaptability, it’s entirely possible that they will realize your value and you’ll earn your spot despite the odds.
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Amy Liu is a Digital Marketing Associate at FirstJob and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley. In her free time, she loves exploring San Francisco and trying out tasty new restaurants.