Life After College: Musings on Life as a Young Professional 22 Months after Graduation
Hi there! If you’re reading this: 1. Thank You for your support of The Women’s Network. I actually helped start the organization in 2015 with five other powerhouse ladies under the guidance of the magnificent Carolyn Goerner. 2. This is an official invitation to reach out and connect with me if you’d like to start an IRL conversation about anything I will briefly cover (contact information below). I’m going to scratch the surface as to what I’ve found interesting, reflective and important about my time since graduating IU. Shall we begin?
My name is Rebecca Garcia, I’m a 2017 graduate of the Kelley School of Business with double major in Marketing and International Business and a minor in Portuguese. It seems very official to state that but I honestly believe that in today’s age, a bachelor's degree is proof that you learned how to learn. I was blessed in that I realized I wanted to study business my sophomore year of high school, AND that my town was also home to one of the best undergraduate business schools in the country! Fast forward past my first three years at IU and stop during my first semester of senior year: Full-Time Recruitment Season. I knew I was supposed to start flirting with companies and find my First Real Job but guess what? I had absolutely NO CLUE what I wanted to do. I looked around at my peers who all seemed to have it together and so much conviction towards the opportunities they were pursuing. I felt suspended in a land of confusion, anxious about how inauthentic the “good” jobs felt to me but still completely and wholly swept up in the rat race everyone was competing in. Going through recruitment was a full-time job on top of my full-time class workload. I was capital S, Stressed Out.
This isn’t meant to scare you -- I’m trying to set the scene. I’m your classic oldest sibling - always the, “Responsible one who has it all together.” I have a passion for lifelong learning, interpersonal connections, and helping. I find fulfillment in helping a team, another human, a company succeed to meet their goals. My parents didn’t know this when they named me but “Rebecca,” comes from the Hebrew name רִבְקָה (Rivqah) which roughly translates to, “to join, to tie, to bind.” I find a lot of personal meaning with this: in a team, I’m the organizer & synthesizer. It’s superbly fun to me to listen to everyone's ideas and help translate it into one implementable solution. I love “networking,” i.e. learning about other people’s experiences and making human connections to improve the dissemination of information. Someday I’d love to formally study how to best organize, maintain and pass along information within a community (companies, towns, interest groups etc).
This is just more background on me.
On to where I am now.
I am finishing up my second year of an incredible program called Orr Fellowship. We were started because there has been a brain drain in Indiana for a while now and companies in Indianapolis were having trouble recruiting top talent from Indiana’s excellent universities. Orr Fellowship recruits graduating seniors of any major background from 20+ schools across the Midwest and pairs them with 50+ high-growth companies in the Indianapolis area for a two-year full-time job experience paired with everything you could imagine needing in the perfect transition into your young-professional life. I call it a real-life MBA and automatic 100+ person friend group for people who know they need to continue learning but want the opportunity to launch their careers in a fast-paced & low-risk environment. Learn more about it here: http://orrfellowship.org/
I was picked by a software startup company called Bolstra. You read that correctly: A SOFTWARE STARTUP, B2B SaaS COMPANY. So many acronyms. Believe me when I tell you I didn’t know what any of it meant and couldn’t conceptualize what this experience would imply for the start of my career. The co-founders interviewed me, extended me an offer and I accepted! I am now in my fourth rotation (Customer Success, Customer Marketing, Sales Development, Customer Success again) in just under two years at Bolstra and the amount I’ve experienced and learned in that time is more than I could have ever imagined. I’m going to hurry it up and tell you about the general perspectives I had vs. now have in the following categories: Career, Community & Personal Life.
When I started working:
My goal was to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. This meant showing up to the office at 7AM before anyone else and studying our software product, reading all of the documentation we had up to that point and doing market research. I attended all customer meetings and took notes, observed, and asked my managers any questions I had that were integral to my understanding of the environment we were in. I left when the office in the evening when I felt like I could wrap a bow on what I had learned that day -- yeah, I put in long hours but it was so fun and I had to get up to par with the speed of the fast-paced industry we’re in. I even took work home most days. I started to outline our organizational structure, figure out who owned what information and tried my best to learn each of my teammates perspectives and personal objectives. I wasn’t very in-tune with everyone at my company at first but that’s normal - it takes time to learn your environment well. All the while I attended as many networking events I could manage (speaker series, meetups, pitch competitions etc) to learn about the Indianapolis community and orient myself with everyone in it.
Two Years Later:
Today, I look back and amazed at how far I’ve come in the short period of time. I’m able to be more strategic in the work I perform and the teams I’m a part of because I now have a stable foundation of company and industry knowledge. I know how to navigate the interpersonal relationships in a workplace and communicate MUCH more effectively with my team & customers. I’m intentionally developing my professional brand and leadership style and making sure all of my decisions in work reflect mine, and my company’s core values. I’m responsible for a lot of information at my company now, and even get to make my own decisions on a daily basis. The President of my company is my direct manager and we have weekly 1:1’s where we discuss strategy for my initiatives and he informs me on what’s happening on the executive level. It’s incredible and I’m beyond grateful for the experience I’ve had!
When I moved to Indianapolis:
When I finished school I knew I wanted to commit myself to learning more about Diversity & Inclusion and how I could help institute positive change in the Indianapolis community to serve the underrepresented. I’m Latinx and benefited from an incredible support system of my family, the Bloomington community & the state of Indiana -- I was encouraged to pursue my education and always was able to get help when I needed it. I committed to experiencing many different civic engagement opportunities, getting to know the city, and connecting deeply with my peer network as a way to begin developing the framework around the involvement I want to pursue.
Two Years Later:
I’ve started narrowing down my list of nonprofit/charitable organizations I want to continue spending time supporting. I now have worked with a small portion of the youth community (through an Orr program, Launchpad) and after I transition out of Orr I plan on connecting more with the arts and culture communities. I have a access to a network of leaders within Indy who serve on nonprofit boards and from whom I can continue learning and working with.
When I started working full-time:
When I graduated college and made the transition into the “real world,” I had a laundry list of things I wanted to do. I was finally making my own money and had the funds and resources to develop the lifestyle I wanted. I was intentional, however, about my obligations in an effort to not overcommit. I started cooking much more, spending time with new friends, going on long bike rides and finally attending all of the family events I couldn’t in college. It was a wonderful way to reconnect with my cultures and start taking on more familial responsibilities.
Two Years Later:
I am now the proud home owner of a condo in downtown Indianapolis! I’m more particular with who I spend time with to ensure quality of relationships and that I’m not surrounding myself with unnecessary negativity. I love my family dearly but am planning more solo vacations, I still cook a ton and now love hosting people. I am intentional about the time that I spend for myself and am consistently in tune my emotional well-being. If I don’t take care of myself first, I can’t be there for the people that I love in the way I want to be. I’m building roots in the city I now call home and the stability feels great.
To close it out, here is a random list of habits I have instituted over the past couple of years that I would now share with folks learning how to navigate adulthood:
Closing Action List (In No Particular Order
Let your goals act as loose borders for your life. Don’t use them as a singular point of direction -- always keep your mind and heart open to new opportunities you didn’t consider before. A Five Year Plan is great, but if you’re not flexible you probably won’t enjoy life and learn as much along the way.
Filter out the noise. FOMO is real but what you care about as an individual is much more important than Keeping Up with The Joneses. When you life a life authentic to what’s important to you, you're more persuasive, can make sound decisions, and are naturally respected. We could all die tomorrow - No Ragrets, ya dig?
The beginning of your young professional life is a time to be selfish. Invest in yourself first so that you can help other people in the future.
Get to know yourself. Like really well. Hang out with yourself.
Analyze every decision you make. THey should line up with your values -- if you know why you make all of the decisions you choose you’ll be able to problem solve and self-analyze much quicker. Plus your communication will be more clear. Win/win.
Be Curious. You can learn from anyone and everyone. But still remember, the only person you can change is yourself. Learn from others mistakes -- it saves you time AND painful memories.
Thanks again for your time! Feel free to shoot me an email whenever -- I’d love to learn about you and help provide you with any information that will help you reach your goals!