It’s graduation season and in the spirit of those who are graduating (hey Nancy!), I thought I’d provide some advice for all those weighing a few job opportunities. Most opportunities for recent graduates and young professionals are part of a formal program: banking, management consulting, or other large corporate jobs. But when you are considering entering an entrepreneurial or smaller arena, the options might be different for new grads who are “business” generalists.
Often when I speak to people experiencing this dilemma, it comes down to the following:
1. I got my dream job! But I don’t know anything about the company (OR it’s a company I don’t really love/understand the product)
2. I am going to work for the most amazing company, but they’re hiring me for a role I have no interest in doing
I understand why the dilemma feels lifechanging. You want to work for the perfect company and do the best job, but the reality is that both don’t necessarily happen at the same time. It feels counterintuitive to take a job that isn’t exactly what you want to do especially since you’ll actually have to be performing in that function day in and day out.
Indeed, when I was interviewing for tech jobs, I was speaking to companies about everything from user services and support to financial planning and analysis. At one point, I even considered taking an internship (with the promise to turn into a full-time position) because I was so passionate about one of the companies. I wasn’t exactly interested in this broad array of opportunities, but the opportunities to work at the various companies seemed exciting nonetheless.
The best piece of advice I received when I was looking to make a move into tech is to take a job for the company, not the function. Here’s why:
1. The “company” is just the people you are surrounded by. If you want to work for an organization that will put you in contact with some of the best and brightest, you will benefit from working at that company regardless of your function. As long as you are expanding your network and working with great people, you will succeed.
2. There is a ton of mobility within companies. Especially at startups, new functions and even new teams crop up all the time. If you take a role within the company and decide it isn’t the right fit for you, which is exactly what I experienced at Twitter, there are plenty more opportunities that will become available to you.
3. As a young professional, your job is simply to learn and absorb as much as possible. If by working for a company you are able to do that, regardless of your position, then it doesn’t really matter what job you take. Take note of the skills you want to acquire and take charge or making that happen. Chances are you wouldn’t even be qualified to take a role that’s so far out of scope that you couldn’t knock some items off of your “to learn” list.
With all of that, if you truly don’t feel comfortable or it feels like your career will take a wrong turn, then simply don’t take the job. Sometimes walking away is the best idea, even if it’s the scariest. But shying away from a great opportunity because the job isn’t perfect is the wrong attitude.