What was your first job after graduation?
I interviewed for my first full-time job in the middle of my last final exams week of my university career.
The position was a one-year maternity leave contract at Arts Umbrella on Granville Island, at base salary with no benefits. My title was Coordinator, Special Events. It was arguably the more risky choice both fiscally and of manner of prestige, considering I had a simultaneous opportunity to work on UBC Campus in a wonderful position (salaried, full benefits, full-time permanent).
Following my intuition above what made “check-list” sense was, then and now, the best move I could have made. To this day, I am thrilled with the choice I made. It opened new doors of learning, opportunity, and connections; most importantly, I will never be left wondering “what if”?
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made at your job / a job interview?
The biggest mistake I’ve made was not doing my research on current trends in the field, and being so incredibly grateful to be offered a position that it didn’t cross my mind to ask for a salary band, or inquire about negotiation or future potential for growth.
I believe this is one of the biggest mistakes that competent young professionals make. Whether or not there is capacity for a higher starting salary or opportunity for growth down the line, it is the responsibility of the potential new hire to initiate that conversation. I recommend keeping it respectful, professional, and research-backed.
I’ve since learned how to measure my impact in any given role with quantified, tangible deliverables and metrics, particularly where I’ve repeatedly exceeded expectations. Lesson learned: Tell your story; back it up with objective data (thank you, rigorous science undergrad training!)
What was the most important connection you made?
The most important connection I’ve made is the one with myself.
Curious, rigorous, and on-going self-study has led me to understanding my (ever-evolving) current state, identifying my (also-evolving) future goals, acknowledging my current gaps and challenges, and articulating my key strengths.
Armed with this data, I’ve been able to reach out to countless incredible community members, peers, and professionals for help.
What I’ve learned is this: most people are more than willing to provide support or guidance. One simply needs to be prepared to answer the invariable question: “how can I help you?”
Vague requests are incredibly difficult to respond to, and much more likely to be declined or deferred. It is a wonder what opens up when I’ve kept my requests (a) specific and (b) courteous.
What did you think you would be doing when you started university?
A classic case of “you don’t know what you don’t know”, I began my General Biology undergraduate Science career in the pursuit of becoming a pediatrician.
With full admiration and respect to those in the field, am ever-grateful for how far my current body of work is from that now-outdated dream of my younger self.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
If given the chance, I would not change a single event, or occurrence on my career path, as it is what has brought me to where I am today.
If I could advise my younger self as she navigated the path, however, I would tell her to seek out consistent and honest mentorship early on, and to share her story on a larger platform in a way that allowed her to connect with peers and still-students navigating a similar, less-defined, career path.