I took a bit of a winding road to get to where I am today. As a university student, I had no idea what I wanted to be.
In third year, I landed a summer internship with a Fortune 500 company in the consumer packaged goods industry. It was a truly excellent experience, so I happily accepted an offer to join them full-time after graduation.
About a month into my final semester at university, while on exchange in Hong Kong, it hit me. I was seeing the world for the first time, and it just didn’t feel right to move back to Canada and start my career. I felt like there was so much more to learn.
So, I reneged on my offer and applied for a scholarship with the Chinese government. And I got it!
I spent the summer backpacking around Europe and then moved to Xiamen, China, a small southern coastal city on the mainland and started my Master’s in International Relations.
But, in fact, that wasn’t right for me either. Although I loved everything about my life in China outside of school, the academic learning curve stopped being so curve-y after about six months and I felt like I had gotten what I needed out of the experience — mainly, time to think about the career I wanted to build for myself.
After nearly 15 months, I moved back to Toronto with just a few Renminbi saved up, and no idea what I was going to do next.
Shortly after I returned, I randomly ran into a former colleague of mine —we had managed a McDonald’s together in high school. She ended up referring me for a job at her company, and I worked there for a year before I realized where I truly belong — at a start-up where I currently work.
Outside of work, I’m the founder of Ladies Learning Code (www.ladieslearningcode.com), a collective of women working to empower everyone to feel comfortable learning basic programming and other technical skills. I also manage social media for the Ivey Alumni Association in Toronto.
I think employers should be more understanding of the fact that young people may not know exactly what they want to do after graduation.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of great things. It took me longer than I expected to find out where I belong, but the journey was valuable — it got me where I am today.
Where Heather is now
In July, I joined Pinpoint Social, a Toronto-based start-up building on the Facebook platform. We have an application that helps brands and businesses run promotions, contests and coupon giveaways on their Facebook Page.
I lead our sales and marketing effort, and I also manage our client relationships.
Key take-aways from Heather’s experience:
- Don’t stresst if you don’t know what you want to do
- Follow your passions
- Learn to network
– TalentEgg.ca, Canada’s online career resource for students and recent grads, wants to hear your Student Voice. Share it at TalentEgg.ca.