When I graduated Scripps College mid-May with a B.A. in Economics, I was set. I had been signed on for eight months to join Nestlé’s three-and-a-half year finance rotational program in July. I never expected what would happen next.
Nestlé’s finance rotational program is designed as a career accelerator, so graduates can quickly climb the leadership ladder. Many of my friends and classmates had accepted investment banking and consulting offers, and I felt that I needed to have a job secured as well. While this program can be an ideal path for young professionals with career ambitions within a single company, I wanted to work in tech. I’m fascinated by how disruptive technologies are changing the world in unimaginable ways. I felt that the skills acquired at Nestlé wouldn’t transfer to the innovation of today’s fast paced technology startups.
Then on May 29 I attended an event with the female founders of Eventbrite, ModCloth, and One Kings Lane. After the event I spoke with Eric Koger, Modcloth Co-Founder and CEO, and mentioned my dilemma of having accepted a position with Nestlé, even though I wanted to work in tech.
Eric advised that I begin my career in the tech sector, instead of planning to transition to the industry after Nestlé. Speaking as an executive of 500 employees, he explained that he would rather hire someone from a no-name technology company than from Nestlé, because it is difficult to make the industry transition. He understood wanting to have a halo on a resume, as Nestlé is one of the world’s largest companies — but thousands of others already work at Nestlé.
It was difficult for me to pass on the opportunity with Nestlé without a Plan B. But after speaking with Eric, I realized that I should pursue my passions instead of following a conventional path. I am a risk taker, and that is not the culture of a large established conglomerate. Additionally, upon reflection, my favorite part of interning at Nestlé was forming relationships with my superiors by having lunch with someone different every day: from first year analysts to the CEO and CFO — which I would have missed through working at my assigned Bloomington, Illinois factory.
Eric’s insight left a big impression on me, so four days later, the day before embarking on a one-month trip to Ireland (probably my last extended vacation before retirement!), I called Nestlé to inform them I would no longer be joining the company. I had no Plan B. This was slightly terrifying yet exciting at the same time.
I started my job search process juggling job postings and Linkedln connections — while organizing everything in Excel. Then one tweet by Gagan Biyani, Sprig Co-founder and CEO, changed everything.
I Googled Tradecraft, and soon submitted my e-mail address and resume. During my interview rounds over Skype and Google Hangout while in Ireland, I realized that Tradecraft would teach me the skills to jumpstart my tech career. Without Tradecraft, I was just another recent college grad looking for a job. Tradecraft would provide me with the mentoring to learn what aspect of tech I’d like to enter, and help me have a larger impact at a start-up from day one.
Many people view social media as a waste of time. But Twitter is a way to gain insights into thought leaders and regular folks who you wouldn’t have the chance to interact with ordinarily. By reading their tweets, you can find out about news and opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t be aware of — that’s how I found out about Tradecraft.
I arrived home to San Francisco on the 4th of July, and started Tradecraft three days later. Over the past five weeks I have gained insights from start-up founders, growth marketers, sales executives, and design leaders. I look forward to my next seven weeks at Tradecraft of acquiring analytical skills to grow a company, in addition to personal and professional development — all while spending time with other like-minded individuals with similar aspirations.
I am writing all of my lessons learned, from others and myself, in a journal so I can continue to reflect on them as I embark on my career. I will share highlights from these conversations in one cohesive post when I graduate Tradecraft. But for now, my most important lesson has been to follow my instincts.