Today I’d like to tell you about an experience which shaped my decision making process in a big way. The event I am going to be discussing is my recruitment for my first full-time, post-college job. While I learned a lot from this process, one message stood above any other: don’t take the money.
I had just finished an internship for the summer at a company I really liked, we’ll call it company A. Company A had a solid environment and a mission I had great admiration for. The people there were also a pretty young, fun group to be around. In the fall after my internship, when recruiting happens for your full-time career after graduation, I received an offer from company A.
During my time at the University of Texas, I also had access to recruiting events hosted by a variety of companies. Company B and C were both ones I had interactions with at these events. These two options were in a business type different from company A.
The difference between B and C though, was the vibe at the events. Throughout college, I had always thought the people at company B seemed to be more lively and out-going. Whenever I met with them we got along great and I could picture myself being around them regularly. It was definitely not the same vibe with company C. Whether it was awkwardness or something else, it just never felt like the right fit.
My Decision at the Time
While company A was one I had a lot of respect for overall, I was pretty confident I wanted to try the business type B and C were in. Then interviews came and went for company C. An offer followed which was significantly higher pay than company A. With dollar signs in my young eyes, this effectively ruled out company A.
At this point in the game, I was only partially into the interview process with company B. Also, my offer from C was an exploding one, giving me a two week deadline to reply. This would not be enough time to see the interviews through with company B. So, I had a decision to make.
Afraid to risk not getting the third offer and missing out on the above-expected salary, I sided with company C in the end.
Why I Was Wrong
Finding a career you love and are fulfilled by is hard. Working in one which provides neither and where you also don’t fit into the culture is harder.
Choosing company C was a direct disregard of my gut feeling at the on-campus events. At the time of my choice, the money differential was my biggest concern. The following are the far-more important points I ignored in the process:
- Location – I knew the city company C was located in had never been one I cared for. Living there while also working my first full-time job made it even worse and I struggled mightily to adapt.
- The People – Company A and B were both better fits for me in terms of the personalities of the people who worked there. The thing about those you work with is they can make even a dull/hard job tolerable. I would say now this could arguably be the most important factor for me. If you can’t see yourself being like those around you now or in the future, run. 😉
- The Work – I did want to dip my toes in the business area of this company, so I can’t say I fully regret trying it. However, I also could have done much more research on the day-to-day before accepting. Whether or not it yielded anything in terms of a decision, enjoying what you do is key.
- My Passions – This wasn’t directly linked to picking the job. But with an overall displeasure for my situation, I was far too distracted to pay much mind to what I really value in life outside of work as well. This became a tremendous problem as I started to worry about my full potential not being met.
What to Focus on Instead
It may sound simple, but one word should determine how you make decisions: happiness. What makes you truly happy? What activities, personality types, or places do you most want to be surrounded with?
I promise you, your true answer is not money. There is a baseline amount of income you need, sure. Beyond that amount though, the rest is just icing on the cake. So if you have options and both satisfy your income NEED, I would encourage you to do your best to think past the extra cheese.
Now I’m not saying money is bad either. Do I want to be a millionaire? Sure I do. But those millions would mean nothing to me if the bulk of my week was spent in a place impacting my mindset in a negative way overall.
So while I don’t regret my decision (I did learn a lot from it), if I had to do it again I’d take a risk on waiting for company B. If they wouldn’t have offered me, I know it still would have been worth it to have turned down an environment which didn’t suit me.
In the end, I decided to eventually leave company C for company D, taking a pay cut in the process. I’m now in a city I love, surrounded by people I enjoy being around, doing something that gives me the time to immerse myself in my passions. The situation is fantastic and for me it affirmed this type of decision-making was the way to go.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve had a similar of different experience!