Tag Archives: jobs

What’s Next: Thoughts on the Future While Firmly Planted in the Present

May 9, 2017. Tuesday. I’m in a state of purgatory between employed and unemployed, a limbo where my employer has kindly provided a period of time in which I can complete a few key projects and look for a new job.

Although I’m well aware the logic behind this is to help minimize risk for the company, it is a luxury to have any sort of a transition period after being shown the door. Even though I collapsed into an embarrassing ball of tears upon being let go, I know they’ve done this in a very respectful way. I’ve yet to step foot back in the office — though I will later this week — and I’ve attempted to mitigate my supervisor’s faux interest in creating smooth communications regarding my “decision” to leave the business for new opportunities. Maybe others could play this game well, but I’m a horrible liar. Everyone knows (or will know) that I’ve been asked to leave, and I don’t imagine I’ll attempt to adjust the story if asked. I just want to be heads down, get my work done, and survive the last few weeks of this job before… who knows what. Continue reading

INFP in an ISTJ World: The Artist In Silicon Valley

I don’t fit in here. More than 10 years working in tech in Silicon Valley, and I look around at all of my peers and feel more like an alien than ever. Don’t get me wrong — I highly respect my peers — but I’m not one of them. While diversity of thought is valuable in any industry, it’s clear my thought is not welcome as is.

However much you believe in Myers Briggs as the be-all-end-all truth of personality definitions, there is a fairly common theme in technology firms of personality type: the INTJ. While my introversion is not judged as harshly in the tech industry as it would be outside of it, my complete anthesis of the typical Silicon Valley worker otherwise makes it vital for me to be an “E” — the “E” (extrovert) which is a value add since many of the folks here are introverts. Limited senior leadership roles that are open to non-engineer types often look for “E’s.” There are enough introverts to go around who are practically rocket scientists, but as an extrovert there is less competition to make it to the top – if you’re truly charismatic (which I am not. I am an awkward introvert and despite dreaming of having the presence of a Michelle Obama I realize that will never happen.) Continue reading

Didn’t Get the Job – Back to the Drawing Board

The hiring manager seemed to love me. Within two weeks of applying for the job via a cold online application I was in late-stage interviews, presenting a powerpoint I put together in front of 1/3 of their pedigreed team including their CEO. When I asked why I didn’t get the job, she was very nice about it – “culture fit,” she said, adding that based on what I said in the interviews and what my references said I needed more stability to thrive. Maybe that’s true. Or, maybe they just picked someone more junior who was lower risk to the business.

I’m not devastated, as the timing was moving way too fast and I wasn’t ready yet to throw in the towel at my current company – but I did get excited about the opportunity and how FINALLY I could move away from sales-focused marketing roles into something more focused on product. Even my old boss, who I thought didn’t like me, told me over lunch that he thinks I’m great and jumped in to give me a reference that should have sealed the deal. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  Continue reading

Do they teach this in business school? I wouldn’t know. I’ve learned it all from startups.

Everyone who joins a startup, in the back of their mind, in that tiny little crevasse all the way tucked behind all the cortices and lobes, dreams of their bank account flooded with cash after an acquisition or IPO (and, of course, many years of hard work.)

But we all know most startups fail. Starting a company is hard work. Creating sustainable growth is nearly impossible. A lot of it is market timing. You can have a great product and fail. You can have a shitty product and get pretty far. There are so many variables no matter what company you join, no matter what stage, it’s a risk, and far from a surefire path to riches. If you want to fill your coffers there are more efficient and less risky ways.

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Finding My Next Steps While Walking Straight Ahead

There are times in life that are phases to process growth, and then there are times when one is meant to grow. The later periods tend to be the most painful, but they’re necessary to evolve. I’m going through one of those right now, which seems appropriate in the last year of my 20s. I didn’t think I’d ever feel like a grown up, and I don’t quite yet, but now I get it. As life forges ahead, some things that felt like they mattered years ago are meaningless, and others, once just afterthoughts, are the most cherished – like time with friends, alone driving down the freeway with the sunroof open, lyrical piano music that forces you to slow down a near pause, and the rare spring days when flowers blossom that pass all too quickly.

I’ve been very fortunate in my life, having the chance to fall into career after career, and not go broke because of it. I don’t feel like I’ve taken great risks to get where I am, as instead at the time of any decision I always felt as if I was running from my past versus taking some great risk to reach some new level of success. I was, indeed, running towards something, but I wasn’t clear what it was or how to achieve it. So I led my life by proxy, making decisions based on what I didn’t want more than what I did.

And here I am, nearly 30, with a six-figure salary, a chance, if I get my act together, to become a serious technology executive, and enough stock options to potentially offer some cushion should my company continue to grow at its current pace – and even if they’re worth nothing, I’m carefully building my networth so I might be able to have some sort of stable future, especially as I venture to marry a man who has yet to save a penny, so I have to stop and allow myself to feel good about that. Continue reading

The Reality of Reality is Reality.

The first quarter of the year has taught me a lot about delusional thinking. I’m the type that easily gets carried away with my passions, and wants to believe that everyone is working towards a common good. However, that’s just not the case. Everyone has their objectives, both stated and unspoken, as well as deep-rooted ones that are buried deep in their consciousness.

It’s especially important to grasp this concept in business. If people work for a company, they have an objective. If people work for a startup, they may have a stronger objective. As that startup grows, politics come into play. The waters can become murky. There are no clear sides to take, but sides are being formed in top-secret meetings, and if you’re not high enough up you get left out of the key informative discussions, and are left guessing.

Business is just a microcosm of society. Even if we don’t want to admit it, the world is just one big game and while you can’t actually win it, you can get certain fun prizes along the way — a good job, a great husband/wife, travel to exotic destinations, the freedom to spend a day lying on the beach, reading a book… there’s no exact structure to this game other than that which we define ourselves based on our personal motivators. In business and life overall, we’re stuck in a massively multiplayer offline game where we can either help each other or try to succeed on our own. There are no correct paths to victory. There are no guarantees other than you own end of life.

I’m exhausted of questioning every single decision I make to the bone. I’ve been reading a lot on Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In concept and it’s inspiring me. I can’t say I relate to her because I don’t have a Harvard pedigree and I’m no COO. But I do like that she’s raising the important topic of not being afraid to lead as a woman. I ordered her book and look forward to reading it to see what tips she has for not being so afraid of taking charge and getting ahead. Men seem to play this game so well, even if they can be cut-throat to get what they want. Is it necessary to play games in business? I don’t want to say “can’t we all just get along” but I’m learning that the businesses I want to work for in the future will be building products that have a very clear mission in line with how we’re changing the world.

I’ve made a few significant mistakes lately, but none I can’t recover from. I’m trying to distance myself from caring so much about my business tasks, because caring as much as I do adds stress that I have no time to deal with. I just need to focus on execution, not perfection, like the men in my business. I received some very valuable advice from a coworker today about leadership — if you want to lead, don’t ask to be a leader. Do it. I know he’s right, but it’s hard to put into practice. I come off young and inexperienced with the exception of when I write — I pretty much have a job and respect because of my writing abilities — and I’m trying hard to revise the perception of my professional persona, but it’s hard when people have such a clear vision in mind of the mistakes you’ve made in the past. I’m trying to dress nicer at work, as looks do matter, and I’m hoping to show that I can effectively manage without officially managing anyone. I’m not exactly doing the best at that right now. Take three or four, come the next quarter.

If anything comforts me about my job today, beyond how grateful I am to work with a lot of really smart people, is that this role I can see as the defining position in my career. I was kind of traveling along jumping from opportunity to opportunity, but nothing felt right until now. This isn’t the last job description I’ll have on my resume, but it certainly is one that is preparing me for a future where anything is possible. So all is good in love, war and business. I may not like office politics but it’s part of life. Learning to successfully navigate this is a challenge I have now, and I’m not going to get it right the first time. I’ll do my best, take notes along the way, and prepare myself for my next company a few years down the line where I can start over with people who don’t know me, and make the right choices for a true professional.

10 Key Pieces of Advice for College Students

Not everyone has to go to an Ivy League school or the equivalent to be successful. However, there are some simple steps you can take to financial success in the next 5 years of your life, and they start now, when you’re in college. Here are 10 things I wish I knew when I was in college, that I’ve learned over the years:

1. Get Work Experience Now, Not Later

The number one key to success is being able to get your foot in the door. I learned this the hard way after graduating from college with a few internships under my belt, where I received great experience, but none of them were impressive enough for an employer to pull my resume to the top of the pile. After college, it was challenging to get an internship as most were unpaid and required “college credits” to obtain. I finally got my footing with a journalism internship that didn’t have those requirements, but I also spent six months after graduating college working under minimum wage to build up my professional experience. I’d recommend getting as many internships as possible while you’re in college, ideally in a company where you won’t just be doing just the dirty work. Internships are also one of the few opportunities you’ll have in life to build up a solid pool of references who can say wonderful things about your work ethic despite only three months on the job, and no one will question your short tenure – because that’s the point of an internship. Continue reading

Helping My Boyfriend Get Ahead with Career Advice

As I mentioned in many previous posts, my boyfriend of 6+ years is unemployed. He’s unemployed for numerous reasons, none of them being talent and intellect. He is just stuck, and needs a little unsticking. I know that everyone says you can’t change a man, but I’m not trying to change him, I’m trying to help lift him out of the quicksand and onto his own two feet.

We had a very good and frank discussion today about money. He said that while he doesn’t like the concept of money, he accepts that to do anything and have power in this country you need money, and he’s willing to work hard to earn it. I’ve compiled a new fresh resume for him based on my learnings from job searching, and quickly found out how much I know about career searching versus the average person. I’m glad I can answer all of his questions about what to write in a cover letter and what job sites provide quality listings. Continue reading

Graduate School: Still an Option, But is it Worth It?

I’m not an academic. Since I was young, I couldn’t focus in class, I rarely completed my homework, and while I supposedly had a lot of potential and was at once point dubbed “gifted” by the public school system, academia was never my forte.

So why, now that I’ve earned a college degree and made a career for myself, still long to return to the Ivy Tower? And what would I return for?

I’m still torn between options, including whether to apply at all. On a pure rational front, I’d be best off getting an MBA if I could manage to score high on the GMATs. At this point I think my experience has a shot at canceling out my less-than-exceptional undergraduate transcripts, but the GMAT would be a toughie.

But does an MBA even make sense for me? I’ve worked with many people who have MBAs, and many who don’t. I’ve been managed by MBAs and I’ve been managed by engineers-turned-marketers and artists-turned-non-profit-owners-turned-business-women. I’ve been managed by people who get it and people who don’t, people who succeed by pure luck and others by pure talent, and others who fail for all the wrong reasons. So why get an MBA?

Partially, I want to do it for myself to prove I can. It would look great on my resume (if I go to a top 10 school which, again, is not exactly an easy feat given my overall credentials.) I’d spend two years focused on learning about business — and maybe I’d even learn something practical to apply in the real world. Mostly, I’d feel more confident in my experience as a marketer with an MBA under my belt. I don’t need one, but to really move up the ladder I either need to start my own company or get an advanced degree. Or have friends in high places.

The other option, still, is to go to graduate school for interaction design. I’d enjoy this more, but I worry it’s too focused in an area that has limited value if you don’t know how to program well. I could learn a bit of programming on my own or in school, but I’ll never be the programmer who moved into design. I’ll also never be the programmer who moved into business management. It seems I’m already in trouble, not being a programmer and all.

I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I need to make a decision on this. I’m 26 now, and I’m not getting any younger. I’ve had a solid 5 years of work experience in non-profit, start-up, and large international corporate environments. I’m still not sure where I fit into the work world. I feel awkward in marketing, as I’m not super creative, nor am I brilliant with numbers, and I’m also shy in a field run by the outgoing. Most of all, I dislike “marketing” as a field where you must produce lies to sell a product that isn’t as good as it could be, if the business was managed better and the consumers were actually listened to. Which leads me to thinking I really ought to run my own company. And I don’t really need an MBA for that. I need an MBA if I want to be middle management. And I don’t see myself as middle management. I know middle managers. They are great people, but a different breed of people. They are willing to do whatever it takes to reach their business targets. That’s what capitalism is all about. A little lie, here and there. Make everyone want what you’re selling, no matter how much it’s “worth.”

Is that where an MBA would lead me? I don’t know if I have the stamina to lead, though I know in the long run I’ll never have the heart to follow.

What do you think I should do?

Off to My First Job Interview Since Being Laid Off

While I don’t like to put all of my eggs in one basket, and surely have some small freelance gigs and the unemployment to keep me going, this job is the first “real” gig that is more than just a hope, so I want to at least nail the interview. I’m tired and a little nervous. I’ll get more nervous when I get on the train and get to their corporate office in the city.

I’m not really nervous about the interview itself, just the chance that I say or do something embarrassing in the process of meeting with the four people. I’ve only been on one other serious interview before with more than one person, and that was for my last job. But that was for a 1099 contract role for 20 hours a week at the time, so it didn’t feel as huge, and it was also for a startup so it was very laid back as far as interviews go.

This, however, is going to be as corporate of an interview as the west coast gets. I’m putting on my skirt-suit that I purchased last week at Express, and likely straightening my hair soon, to look as polished as possible, while not losing myself in my clothes entirely. I’m wearing a fairly bright blue shirt, but it works with the grey suit, I hope. They’re not that corporate, it’s a smallish team of mostly engineers and a few business folks.

On top of everything, I recently found out that this job is a “W2 Contract” position which means I’d basically be in a temporary position without the benefits of full-time (no paid vacation, sick days, benefits) even though I’d be W2 so I wouldn’t have the flexibility of an independent contractor (have to work at the office 9-5:30 every week day.) It’s definitely better than being unemployed and for such a big, known company it would probably be worth it for a year or so at least — I can always take time off, I just won’t get paid for it. And if something better comes along with benefits, no one could really fault me for leaving. I think the whole W2 thing is designed so you can leave easier as well. I’m not really thinking about that much now, I’m more thinking about how I have to nail this interview. I’d at least like to have one job offer to consider and take in the next few weeks, and this is looking like the only real potential to fulfill that goal.