Stories

SPEAKING UP THE LADDER

Carolynn, 24, on her post-grad career setbacks and comebacks.

When I graduated three years ago, I think I just didn’t know what kind of roles I really wanted as my first steps.

I’d come to college to study Communications and thought that I was going to work in PR even though I had no idea what that meant. I did an internship in the PR world and that’s when I realized I really couldn’t do PR. I’d also interned in network television and had felt like the TV industry was a little bit too slow-paced for me and more importantly, there just wasn’t the diversity I wanted to see in the industry I chose to work in. I wanted to go into tech — though I’d done internships in the industry, it was hard to break into. I was looking at anything from Sales Coordinator, Marketing Coordinator, to Recruiting Coordinator, and trying to cast a wide net.

It was definitely a hard summer for myself because throughout college, I always made sure that I was working very hard to be at the top no matter what I was doing, whether it was in student activities or at an internship. To be hit with endless rejections throughout summer right after graduation was just a huge reality check for myself, and it honestly forced me to start from square one and reevaluate what I really wanted to do.

Ironically, an opportunity came through NYU by August. An office was looking for marketing and social media help, and so… I don’t want to call it an act of desperation because I was really levelheaded going into it, but I needed to start making an income. I ended up accepting the role and I absolutely did not like my experience there. It was primarily due to a toxic work culture, not being as fast-paced as I wanted it to be, and not feeling challenged in my day-to-day responsibilities. I immediately felt like it wasn’t a good fit, but instead of quitting or not giving them a shot, I did decide to stick around for a whole year. I decided to look at the positives and think about the things that did make me happy in the role.

Despite my negative experiences over that year, I left feeling like I’d learned so much more about myself. I clearly know what I like and don’t like about my work environments and ultimately, it helped me as I interviewed at other places. Even though it was a marketing role, I did find little hidden gems here and there that would help me as I decided to pivot into recruiting.

I always wanted to stay in touch with my university in some capacity. My experience at NYU was incredible, and despite the student loans, to this day I am grateful for the opportunities I was afforded because of my education. That was one of the reasons why I had taken the role at NYU — because I was curious about higher education and wanted to see if that could be a career for myself. I love working with students and with universities.

As I was researching roles for myself, I realized that campus and university recruiting are roles that exist within the greater recruiting umbrella. I realized some of the largest tech companies I’d even interviewed right after graduation had university recruiting roles.

I used my work at NYU to get me to where I am today. I said that I was still responsible for interviewing and hiring interns for the office and that experience made me hungry for a formal recruiting environment.

Two weeks after I finished up at NYU, in August 2017, I started at my current company as a Recruiting Coordinator. In my second time interviewing for these tech companies, I was very laser focused on getting a recruiting coordinator role. That was the biggest difference between 2016 and 2017, that I actually had an idea of what I wanted and where I wanted to be. I interviewed at all the same places, if not more. Ultimately, I chose an opportunity in a mid-sized tech company that aligned best with my interests.

Recruiting coordinator is more of a general role. I wasn’t working directly with university or campus recruiting, but I felt that it was a great role for me to understand the ins and outs of recruiting in a coordinator and support capacity. I was in that role for 10-11 months. Before my one year at my current company, I was given the opportunity to interview for a new role, and I was promoted to University Recruiter.

I laid the groundwork early. Two weeks into my coordinator role, I already had an idea of where I ultimately wanted to be, which was on the campus team. And for context, while I was interviewing for recruiting coordinator roles, I was also interviewing for campus recruiting coordinator roles, because some tech companies will separate those organizations. Obviously, I just took the regular recruiting coordinator position, but during training, I already got coffee with the campus recruiting manager and told her that this was an area of interest to me. I let her know that even though I was so new, I was just so interested and eager to know more, and once I fully ramped up, I wanted to see if there were ways to support the team or assist with side projects here or there. I definitely sounded over eager at the time, because the manager told me to sort of chill and take a step back, and master my day-to-day responsibilities first. Then she told me to reach out after and see what I could do. So listened to her, and I mastered my role in a month — I really owned it, and I loved the position, and I enjoyed the team. I was able to show that I not only mastered the show that I had, but I was hungry for something more. I always made it clear not only to my manager, but to other leads as well, that I was ultimately interested in becoming a campus recruiter. I think that’s why I am where I am today.

Be loud is my best advice. In my internship period, at Zumper, I was working on a small team of 7. Up to working on a team of 7 for a company of thousands. Despite the drastic differences in company size, the most important thing I had to do was to not be afraid to speak up when appropriate, especially when it includes advocating, both for yourself and for other people. I think being loud is a really important thing and it’s helped me to be where I am today.

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