Networking Tips for Introverts

Ever since I can remember, my mom always told me that "it's about who you know rather than what you know."  At school and professionally, I was constantly reminded of the need to network. As an introvert, networking always made me feel a little uncomfortable; plus, I consider myself a more reserved person.  I would attend events and feel awkward about introducing myself. I disliked small talk. It felt unnatural to force a connection with someone I barely knew. I question how adding another acquaintance to my social network would benefit me. And most importantly, I felt young and inexperienced in the field, rambling or nodding my head to conversations I can barely follow. Leave me alone; I just want to be a wallflower.

But why is it important?  Because 70-80% of jobs are found through networking.

Until recently, I realized the power (and magic) of networking, and why we should all do it. I had to force myself to get over my introversion fears; nowadays, people (like my mom) don't believe me when I say I'm an introvert.

If you sound anything like me, here are a few tips on how to make networking less scary and how to be more successful at it.

Quality over quantity If you are at a networking event and you see your colleague picking up 5x more business cards than you, don't get discouraged. As an introvert, we tend to value small intimate group settings, rather than large parties -- and that's perfectly okay. In fact, interacting closely and having just 5 quality conversations during an event will give you not only more alone time with the person, but also give you the opportunity to know them better. If you met 50 people at an event, that's great, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the depth of your conversation will get you somewhere. Plus, it's more difficult to keep in touch with all 50 contacts, or to have them all remember who you are. Find your 5 quality people, nourish that relationship, keep in touch with them, and expand your network on-going.

It's a two way street When I was younger, I thought networking was so superficial. I felt like a phony because as a sales representative, my train of thought was that everyone was a lead; my ulterior motive was to sell and weasel my way into getting that sale.  Since a lot of the people I met were senior and older executives, I didn't feel like I could do anything in return for them. What do I have to offer them anyway? Now that I look back, I was approaching this all wrong. I can add value.  If not now, then maybe in the future when I am more established. Plus, senior executives could use a young, fresh, millennial perspective on things.

Here's an example: in 2010, I was an intern in the Department of Commerce in Washington D.C., and briefly met the head of department I was interning at. I just graduated undergrad, and it was intimidating to meet such a "bigwig." After all, he was appointed by Obama and everyone in this org essentially reported to him. I shyly added him as a contact on LinkedIn (because one of the other fearless interns encouraged me to), and he accepted my request. We never talked until earlier this year (aka 4 years later) when he messaged me, asking for advice on how to build a team. Since then, we have a cordial relationship, and I consult for his start-up every once in a while.

Moral of the story:  It's a two way street. Even if you aren't as established in your career (now), don't be intimidated because there's always a possibility to work together down the line. Stop approaching networking as a bunch of leads; humanize people, connect with them on a personal level, and find ways you could both help one another out. 

The more you give, the more you get To reiterate my point above, networking is all about helping one another out. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. You should always be willing to offer your help first. I find that those who are defensive or unwilling to help out their contacts will get less in return; people seem to remember that down the line. For example, if you ask a business acquaintance for an introduction to one of their contacts, and they help you out, you should be prepared to do the same if the tables turn. If someone has done favors for you in the past, it's bad etiquette to refuse if they ask you for a favor back. These are some tips that I've learned from Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

Make new friends, but keep the old.. Remember that nursery rhyme we used to sing when we were kids? Yeah, it still applies in business. Stay in touch with your business acquaintances, new and old! Maybe you haven't seen them in a while, and you're not bold enough to invite them for lunch. Technology is great because it makes for keeping in touch really easy. Try commenting on LinkedIn/Facebook updates, forwarding an email that reminds you of them/their job, or sending a text message to keep in touch.  Being truly genuine allows relationships to grow naturally and organically.

See? Networking as an introvert isn't so bad! It just takes practice and viewing it from a different perspective.  Also, for those who haven't already seen Susan Cain's TED Talk about The Power of Introverts, I highly recommend watching it! Her book, "Quiet" is phenomenal and sheds a completely different light on how to perceive introversion.

 

The Cover Letter - Yay or Nay?

I read this article the other day on LinkedIn Pulse about a hiring manager's claim that cover letters weigh more than resumes (hint: they do not). Reading the comments, there seemed to be a lot of mixed feedback on this topic. From a recruiters standpoint, cover letters are not helpful. So, the question is: should we, or should we not, provide a cover letter? Before you start stressing about writing one, here are my thoughts. 1) High technology industry approaches the job search a bit differently.  Especially you are applying for an engineering related job, recruiters/hiring managers seldom read cover letters, and thus it is not helpful (so use your time doing something else).  Instead, hiring managers and recruiters will resort more heavily on other things like a strong resume or strong LinkedIn profile (I sometimes don't even collect a candidate's formal resume because I can resort to their LinkedIn).

What about non-tech related jobs within the high-technology industry? If you are applying for something that requires strong writing/communications skills (like marketing, business development, or public relations), a strong cover letter could help further demonstrate your strengths.  However, remember that a cover letter will not exactly "make" a decision on whether the company is interested in talking further; if written incorrectly, it could even break your chances.  It also depends on the context of your industry.

2) No one has time to read a long cover letter. If you are sending in a cover letter that is more than 3 paragraphs in length, then you are doing it wrong.  Hiring managers and recruiters simply don't have the time to read through an entire essay, so don't send it in, as it might even hurt your chancesStrong cover letters are brief and to the point; candidates must be explicit about who they are and what they are looking for, and give strong examples of why they are a fit. Strong cover letters (and good candidates) present information that is well organized and easy to find. I'll write a post on this later.

3) Don't ever send a cookie-cutter cover letter. Ever. The obvious reason is that cut and paste cover letters may overlook small details that the applicant might not see. You might be blasting off 10 cover letters a day, and though it seems efficient, you forget to change the name of the company. Oops. The maybe not-so-obvious reason of why a cookie-cutter cover letter is never a good idea is that every role is a bit different and needs to be tailored. The candidates that are able to able to identify the employer's wants/needs/pain points, and succinctly portray why they are a fit, will peak more interest. A candidate that can highlight why he/she is a good fit for this particular role and company is in a better position to be called back. Generic cookie cutter resumes usually do not capture that effect.

4) If you are spending too much time writing a cover letter, then it's not an efficient use of time. If you've been working on one cover letter for more than a couple hours (even days and/or weeks), then you are approaching it wrong. Your time is better spent on other methods, like networking, reaching out directly on LinkedIn, or connecting with people for informational interviews. The format for a cover letter is pretty standard, but what applicants usually struggle with is being able to tie the "why" into a short concise summary. If this is something holding you back in your job search, I suggest taking time off to reflect on your whole career image/trajectory/accomplishments/goals first. The better you are able to connect the dots, the better you can convey this value to others.

So, where do I stand? In short: if you are an engineer looking for an engineering role, then don't bother (but if you are an engineer looking to switch to something business-y, then write one). If you are in high-tech (i.e. Silicon Valley) but not in engineering, then it's up to your discretion, but it might not get read. If you are in a conservative industry where strong writing and communication skills are valued or a crucial part of the job, then sure, but make sure it's NOT longer than three paragraphs, a cookie cutter or that it took you more than 2 hours to write, because you could be being more efficient in other ways. If you don't want to write a formal cover letter, send out a similar format introduction email to the hiring manager or recruiter. Because what else are you going to write in your first introduction email?

As for this article, author Laura Nelson makes a few good points, but her argument is completely exaggerated.  Let's be honest: if Laura had only one hour to get through 200 resumes, she's better off picking through resumes, looking for relevant skills, then reading the cover letter as a final clinger - not the other way around. No matter how much "personality" you inject, after reading 200 of them, they will all start to blur, sorry. Personality is important, but if a candidate lacks the wrong fundamental skills, then it simply isn't a good fit (unless you are looking for a purely entry level role).

 

 

A Few Reasons to be Careful with Social Media: Life in the Digital Age

Call me paranoid, anti-social or hypocritical, but I am not a huge fan of social media (unless it's used properly to help boost businesses and customer engagement). I deactivated my Facebook, refuse to get a Twitter, keep my Instagram really private, and stopped making public reviews on Yelp. Not only do I find social media a time sink, but I also find it an invasion of privacy.  I didn't realize how creepy the internet can be until I started recruiting, and was able to find so much information on my candidates (I call it professional stalking).  All joking aside, here are few reasons why we should be careful of our digital profiles in this day and age. 1) Digital is forever

How much information do we have about ourselves floating around cyber world? Millennials remember: digital is forever, no matter if it's on LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, Yelp, emails, etc. Whether it be for personal or business purposes, be careful about what is posted and shared because it will be floating around in cyberspace - FOREVER.  This means years later, that email or Facebook wall post that you originally thought would be private, could be exposed. Just look at these articles of Evan Spiegel.  That poor frat boy can't even party in private.

2) Our children will have an online presence even before they are born?!

I was 18 when I first created my Facebook (I've deactivated it for the last 5 months now), which means I would have had my account for about 7 years this year.

This leads me to think about our next generation. How long will we continue to have our lives publicized on the web? When we have children, will they have an online image even before they are able to talk?  Yes, at this rate, the whole world will know who your baby is, what the ultrasound looked like, embarrassing birthday photos exposed -- even before your baby is able to consciously understand what's going around. This completely blows my mind. MIND=BLOWN.

3) Never mix personal and professional

It's always dangerous to mix your personal and social networks, especially on Facebook.  I've seen and heard of so many instances where social media clashes two circles groups, resulting in a nasty ending.  For example, co-workers ratting one another out for saying they are sick but posting a picture on Instagram. Or, your friends and coworkers battling one another in a heated Facebook feed, even though they've never met. Someone liking and posting feeds on Facebook in the middle of the day, and a coworker calls them out for slacking. These are all real instances that I've heard of in the last couple years.

4) Recruiters can find out information about anything

Most importantly, recruiters/headhunters or anyone else who is good at stalking can actually stalk you. It's not that hard. This goes back to my older post about keeping your address private in your resume. It would also be wise to keep your FB wall, IG, Twitter and whatever else private, especially when prospecting for a new job. Your new employer really should not see or know about those 10 tequila shots you took last Friday.

 

Be safe friends, and know the internet is a dangerous playground.

Name Dropping in Interviews

I wanted to write a quick post about name dropping during interviews.  While it might seem common sense for most, I just wanted to recap for those who might be committing these interviewing no-no's. 

For the last couple months, my start-up has been looking for a high-level VP of Business Development. Many of the candidates that we've talked to are very well established with successful careers in the industry.  Of course, when you work in a niche industry and market for a number of years, there will be some overlap.  Anyway, one of the candidates that we interviewed was looking pretty good - up until the point where he volunteered a few mutual connections during the interviews.  Naturally, the co-founder decided to ask his friends if they knew the guy, but the response was "we don't really know him." Big no-no. Result: no job offer. 

Overall, while it might seem impressive to drop big names of people you know to woo your interviewer or client, my advice is to steer away unless you REALLY know the person and you know that this person would back you up 100% if ever asked.  Same thing with companies; don't just name drop (partner) companies without knowing first exactly what that company does or without actually using their product. We ended up turning down several Business Development and Marketing candidates because of those two reasons.  Steer on the side of precaution. In my opinion, throwing in names and companies makes the conversation hard to follow along and sounds very buzzy and fluffy (not to mention disrupts the flow), especially if it follows with "do you know who/what X is?"  I'd rather hear generics like "I worked with the board of directors at company X" and if asked more specifically, volunteer that information. Keep it general, then go into more specifics when prompted. 

When I was 22...

I'm turning 26 in about a month (!) and it's recently hit me that I've been out of college for over 4 years now.

The last 4 years has been quite tumultuous, with lots of ups and downs, uncertainties, career changes and moving around.  Though things are still quite uncertain right now, I wanted to write some thoughts that had inspired me after reading this article.

First off all, when I look at the course of my career (and observations from my friends careers), the common theme of post-college graduation life was that we all wanted to accomplish big things.  We all had big dreams and ideas that popped up in the back of our minds of what we "wanted to do when we grow up." I've had many friends who wanted to go to law school, dental school, pharmacy school, business school, art school -- "the world was our oyster" as some would say.

While some end up taking actions towards pursuing their dreams, others  kept their dreams on pause and it eventually fizzled up, as daily life duties, school rejections or money problems kept them preoccupied and content. Others keep delaying because of timing (but really, when IS the right timing?). It was clear who was a "say-er" versus "do-er".  For those that are currently in pursuit of their 22year old dream (or any life goal in general), I'm so proud of them for going to seek it out.  For those who gave up on chasing dreams altogether, it frightens me to see a generation with so much potential lose their drive and ability to do so much more. 

All in all, I completely understand that it's easy to choose a life of stability and contentment.  I've been told to "take it easy" and tune down my Type A personality (lol, psh yeah right. can't help it- It's the INFJ in me). But, I'm a firm believer that NOW really is the best time to set your foundation for your future career and to stop making excuses.  It's so much more difficult to try and juggle your education goals when trying to juggle raising a family, mortgage, etc.  It's also much harder to work to that ideal dream job/dream company if contentment just keeps weighing you down.

When I was 23, I read The Defining Decade and the statistics around how our 20's really matter completely it kicked me in the butt.  Especially the part about how the first 10 years of a career have an exponential impact on ultimate earnings. Reality check: I'm halfway through my first 10 years of my career, and I really don't want to stagnate.

 

Things to Consider and Ask Before Joining a Start-Up

Joining a start-up these days has become increasingly more and more "trendy."  Millennials seem to be awed and drawn in by the awesome perks, huge potential upside of success, and the ability to wear multiple hats to grow quickly in your career. While it sounds glamorous and fun (which it is), there are many things to consider before making the leap from a big, stable company to a small start-up. As a start-up recruiter, I've had to answer a lot of questions from candidates that I'm sure you are all dying to know.

Before jumping in, be sure to ask yourself and your company these things:

Are you willing to put in the time? There's no going around the fact that start-ups will require more dedication and time. For example, when I was interviewing for my current role, the company straight up told me that the hours were 10-8 (hours are better now though). Some start-ups might not let you "shut off work at 5pm," especially when fires happen and you need to handle them right away. When talking to a company, make sure you have a clear understanding of their working hours and expectations (ex: do they allow remote work? what time do people generally start/leave the office?).

Do you believe in the product and mission?  I joke with my friends that you should be willing to drip sweat, blood, and tears for your start-up.  Before you seriously consider joining a company, you should ask yourself whether you believe in the mission and product. What is the company out to achieve? Are they on track to do so? Is it realistic? What has their track record and growth been so far? Afterall, you will be spending the next several years at that company, so you sure as hell must believe in the idea. Overall, because of the high level of demand of working at a start-up, it will be very difficult to keep yourself motivated if you are dispassionate and disinterested in what the company is doing.  I read a recent article saying that if you really believe in the company, you should be willing to go as far as investing your own money.

What does the current financial situation for the company look like? Crucial question to ask. The worst case scenario is that you leave your financially steady job to join a start-up that you think is financially secure, but ends up closing shop after a few months (true story). Do as much research as you can on the funding situation of the company by researching companies like Crunchbase and AngelList; also be sure to ask your hiring manager/recruiter if the company is profitable, what the burn rate is, and how much money so far they've raised.  The numbers may be hard to calculate for start-ups if they are on a hiring-spree and burning money faster than they make, so it's just something to be aware of.  Also, it's important to find out who is backing the company; are they bootstrapping? Leading VC firms? Private equity? Incubators? This will give you insight to the dilution of company shares as well.

Do you believe in the leaders of the company?  One of the biggest reasons why I chose my current company is because of our co-founder, who was one of the first 10 Google employees, an Angel investor, and sits on the board of a leading VC firm. It was a huge draw for me to work under someone of such high caliber, who I trust will make sound decisions for the company.  I recommend everyone take a deep look into the leaders of the company, understand their background, and evaluate whether they are a team you trust. Good leaders will have a plan and vision for the company with undying passion for their work.

Aside from those main points, in general, it really does take the right personality and attitude to join a start-up.  Hard and relevant skills are always great to have in the position, but because things can change so rapidly, employees should both be intelligent and willing to jump in when needed. Even though I'm in the recruiting team here, I've done so many different things in my organization, including HR/payroll & processing visas to being a janitor & grilling burgers at a company event. It keeps me on my toes and I feel useful.

In the near future, I will be writing an article on where to find start-up opportunities. The start-up job search is a little different from your traditional big corporation, and I'm excited to share my tips.

5 (Crappy) Work Experiences That We Should All Learn How To Handle

In the ideal world, "going to work" would never really feel like working. There would be no conflicts, as you love everyone you work with. Tasks would be easy to handle and you'd nail every performance review effortlessly, getting paid all the money in the world.

Unfortunately, for the majority of us, that's probably not the case.  To me, one of the hardest parts in adjusting to working life wasn't learning about how to perform my daily duties, but learning how to handle difficult situations with professionalism (at all times).  Most of the time, when I felt someone was wrong or had wronged me, the best thing for me to do wasn't arguing back to get my point across. Rather, it was more important for me to learn to re-adjust my perspective and angle on the scenario, and to view it as an opportunity of professional and personal growth.

I compiled a list of crappy work situations that we wish would never happen, but unfortunately does sometimes. Disclaimer: this post was drawn not only from my personal experiences, but also from the experiences of my friends and observations from my coworkers.

1) Working for a bad boss or a micromanager: Nothing sucks more than having someone always hover over you while you're trying to work.  Constant checking in from your manager can be irritating and put a strain on the employee-manager relationship.  When this happens, try to figure out the root of the "why."  For instance, maybe your boss is quantitatively driven, and hasn't received any numbers from your work lately.  The solution would be pro-actively providing stats and numbers to back up your work.  Or, maybe your boss had a difficult employee in the past, and wary of his/her team slacking off.  Whatever it is, earning the trust with your employer and showing your boss that you are reliable and self sufficient should alleviate the situation.

2) Being yelled at by a client/customer: While you might be more forgiving when your boss yells at you, it might be hard to swallow when a client or customer does the same. When I was doing telemarketing sales for LivingSocial, I had a few instances where customers/client would yell at me for calling. It sucked and made me feel bad, but at the end of the day, it's important to remember I didn't do anything wrong, and not to take it personally.  On the other hand, if you missed a deadline and you were at fault, that's another story.  Bottom line, when trying to win someone's business, it's important to remember that the "customer is always right." Okay, even if they are wrong, there's no point in fighting with them, trying to prove them wrong and aggravating the situation (unless you are okay with losing the business, possibly burning bridges, and hurting your reputation which I'd advocate against).

3) Getting fired: This has never happened to me personally, but from what I can imagine, it's probably an emotional roller coaster.  Instead of being angry at your boss, the company, your coworkers or even yourself,  take a step back to reflect on what happened and what went wrong. Perhaps you did or said something that you knew you shouldn't have - take that as a (hard) lesson learned, and make sure to improve for the future. Or, maybe you were cut for performance issues, but it stemmed from a disinterest in your job and lack of motivation; if that were the case, figure out what type of future/company role would get you more excited and passionate. Overall, there's no point in berating yourself and being bitter at others for what happened; move on from the situation, reflect on how you can grow, and learn to forgive.  (For those looking wanting to read more, I found this list to be pretty interesting).

4) Gossip crew:  If you know me, you'll know that I dislike gossip and drama in my personal life.  It's even worse when this is mixed into a professional setting and when it affects my performance on a job.  Unfortunately, sometimes gossip is inevitable. If there's a "gossip circle," do your best to avoid getting sucked in and avoid encouraging or spreading the drama.  It might be tempting to vent to coworkers about a situation; it might even feel therapeutic, as if you are bonding through venting together, but remember that people talk. Also, I'm a fan of keeping personal and professional social media accounts separate, as that could also spread unnecessary drama and gossip.

5) Getting a bad performance review - This one doesn't apply to me either, but from what I I've observed, after receiving a poor performance review, employees will either feel lower morale or quit altogether.  Do not get defensive or unruly towards your boss; instead, take it as constructive feedback, and figure out how to grow.  While I'm not advocating quitting, if poor performance is drawn from a continual lack of interest in the company and role, then (just a thought) you might want to explore and figure out options that will motivate you and spark your interest.  I found this article very insightful in how to handle poor performance reviews.

Resume Template: How to Make Your Resume Suck Less

resume I've seen some super horrendous looking resumes (and cover letters), and what I've found is simpler looking resumes are just easier to understand.  While I can't exactly help with the content, formatting plays a crucial part in making it easy for the reader to skim and get the whole idea. I'm not a fan of resumes that have vertical lines separating different sections, or one with too many graphics. Humans naturally read from left to right, top to bottom, so don't make your reader have to jump around the page to understand what's going on. Keep it simple.

Here is a very simple Resume Template that I personally use.  I wouldn't give you advice that I don't follow myself :)  It's saved in .doc form, incase you want to SaveAs and edit your own. Make sure you view the comments and markup.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 10.24.50 AM

 

 

Resume Writing 101

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p_NkHeqwIM[/embed] The dreaded resume. To some, it's a pretty daunting task to update and send it in. To me, I love drafting, editing and finding ways to get it to perfection.  As a recruiter, I've seen a fair share of good and bad resumes.  I wanted to share with you a few tips on resume writing that I hope you will find helpful.

Keep in mind that the resume is the FIRST INITIAL IMPRESSION of yourself, so you really should spend the extra time to triple check everything.   Research shows that recruiters spend about 6 seconds reviewing a resume. Your resume needs to highlight the best parts of your career and leave the reader asking for more. 

General tips and tricks:

  • Keep your resume clean, nicely formatted and to the point. Make sure all the highlight, italics, bold fonts stay consistent.  General rule of thumb is to keep it to one page.  Unless you are super legit and have lots of publications/awards/patents, then its OK to go over. But, remember the recruiter/hiring manager may lose attention and focus trying to reach the end.
  • Don't just make a laundry list of what you do. It's boring and doesn't really tell the reader what makes you special. So why are you special? List your greatest achievements (from strongest to weakest) and quantify your success as much as you can. Use engaging action words as much as you can. 
  • Save your resume as a PDF when you send it in. Sometimes .doc formatting will get screwed up, not only making it hard to read, but also wasting your precious time spent formatting. Lock it in! (If you don't know already, steer away from .txt or other plain word processors, as those are impossible to read through).
  • While you're at it, update your LinkedIn as well. Trust me, you'll get so many more hits when your LinkedIn is current and updated. (Don't have a LinkedIn? Get one now!)
  • If you have industry experience, it's best to lead with that (and leave your education at the bottom).  On the other hand, if you are a new grad, lead with education first.
  • You should always put an "Extracurricular / Miscellaneous" section in your resume. Whether you a International Yo-Yo master, a famous YouTube star, or whatever, include your hobbies. It shows you have a personality outside of work and can be a great conversation starter in interviews.  Also, be sure to include whether you volunteer!
  • PLEASE FRIENDS, leave your full physical address off (keep the city). It might not seem like a big deal, but recruiters can be creepy sometimes (hehe) and might look up your address -- just because. There's really no reason for them to have your actual address (if they need it down the line, they will ask you). Also, your resume might one day float around on the internet, and it's really easy for internet stalkers to trace where you live. No bueno.

Tips that seem like common sense but people miss anyway:

  • Avoid redundancy and repetition. You don't need to tell the reader that "University of California, Los Angeles" is in Los Angeles.  Though, it might be helpful to put in the location if you are in a satellite campus (ex: Wharton SF or CMU Silicon Valley).

mylittlepony

  • Stay professional. I know it's tempting to try being cute or witty in order to get attention. See that My Little Resume above? Yeah, you don't want to be that guy. Staying professional is always a safe bet; avoid coming across overly confident, snarky, or witty.
  • Make sure you use a current email address that you check often. This goes more for new grads, who might lose access to their school email address. It might "look cool" to have some @harvard.edu email address, but the reader already knows you went to Harvard by reading other parts of your resume. Unless you have an alumni email address that you have access to forever (literally), it's best to put some other (professional) address that you check frequently. Why? Because who knows, maybe a recruiter down the line will be trying to reach you at your expired address (this happened a lot to me when I was at Google).
  • Avoid listing classes and courses, especially if you've been in the workforce for a while. It's a space killer and looks like fluff. For new grads, I would also advise against this (instead, send them a copy of your unofficial transcript).
  • Avoid certifications and awards that are not relevant to what you do. It also looks like fluff, and can hurt you.  At this day and age, no one cares if you are certified in using Microsoft Office. In the SValley, technical certifications (like Oracle/Cisco/Microsoft) don't seem to carry much weight either, especially for the hot tech companies.

To my fellow 15 page views out there (yessss!), thanks for reading! Hang tight for next week, as I will be providing a standard resume template for next time! :)

-M

Wasting time during your 20's?

I woke up this morning to a trending article on LinkedIn Pulse called "Don't Waste Time in your 20's at Google or McKinsey" and it immediately caught my attention.  I highly encourage everyone to check out that article, and start using LinkedIn Pulse as a means to read about current trends happening in your industry. The question is, what SHOULD we be doing in the 20's? Raj De Datta made a lot of really great points that I agree with. Invest time in yourself to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. Join a smaller and faster paced company and accelerate your learning curve.  Throw yourself out there; try and experience challenging opportunities.

This article strikes home base for me, as I can completely relate to what Raj is referring to. While it might sound glorious and glamorous to work at a Google-type company (great food! perks! big name! everything accommodated for!), your skills and knowledge are stinted.  Initially Google was my "dream company" that I wished to work for, and at one point I was also disillusioned and very forgiving because I was drinking the kool-aid.  But after a year, I felt my potential waning and I just didn't feel intellectually challenged.  Also, as a Millennial, your growth in a large company is limited because you are perceived as "young",  and chances are, management won't take you as seriously as some of the older employees who've earned their seniority. It's easy to become another "cog in the wheel," lost in a bureaucratic and political corporate struggle as a Gen Y. The bottom line is: when you are one in a 10,000 something company,  chances of you making a difference in that org are slim to none. In addition, it's common to lose your ability to think on your feet and be creative, because the organization provides all resources for you readily at hand.

Don't get me wrong, there are definitely skills that you can acquire from working at a large company, such as understanding the internal infrastructure and networking with a bunch of people. The financial stability is great, and the pedigree on your resume will make you stand out and possibly attractive to future employers. I personally think that everyone should work at a big name reputable company, at least once in their life. But, the detriment comes when staying at a big company for too long, especially while you are in your 20's, hinders your growth and exposure of other aspects in an organization.  How do you know this is the type of role you want to stay at forever, when you don't take the chance of  see what else is out there? Maybe I'll eventually end up back at a large company once I have my career figured out and  want to "settle down," but not now.

My personal philosophy of leaving Google and joining a start-up, versus Facebook or Amazon, was to learn as much as I can. Sure, there's a stigma of "being poor," and worries of being financially insecure.  This is and isn't true; it really depends on the level of risk you are willing to take. From what I know, unless you are working at a start-up with little to no funding with no profitability, or unless you are bootstrapping your own start-up, then maybe you'll be tight on money.  However, if you thoroughly do your homework on the financial standing and team/leadership of a start-up or growth company, you should be fine. The only instance I've heard where an employee joins a start-up and hasn't got paid was on the fault of the employee, since she didn't do enough research (even Glassdoor reviews said the company wasn't paying it's employees! In that case, it's hard to feel sorry for her). Plus, people in their 20's are more resilient and can afford just crashing at a friend's couch if needed. As for the networking opportunities of working in a smaller environment,  lo and behold, I've actually met more interesting and diverse people now than during my time working at Google.  Internally there may be fewer people to interact with, but depending on the type of role you are in, externally you may get exposure and introductions to people you never in a million years could have interacted with at a large company.  One of my  personal life goals is "not having any regrets," and I knew that I would regret not trying to work at a start-up.  So far, the experience has been amazing.

 

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