College: Wake Forest University
Hometown: Carrboro, North Carolina
First Job: Operations manager for Wachovia Bank in Atlanta. “I’m going to be managing a team of 15 people. For instance, if you have a Wachovia credit card and you called and said you were having a problem with it, you’d speak to a customer service person. I’m going to be the team manager for a group of customer service representatives.”
Job search advice for the Class of 2000: “Just go to the career services office and use them as much as you can because Wake Forest has a great career services office. Tons of companies come and recruit. You could do anything. That’s why I went in there right at the beginning of the year and got to know them. I was in there all the time. I probably drove them crazy.”
What were the most important criteria for you in choosing a first job out of college?
“I interviewed with banks, for retail jobs, insurance jobs, sales, advertising, every sort of different job. When it came down to it, Wachovia was the best offer that I ended up choosing mainly because of the training program that they have. That was the biggest plus is that there is going to be a three-month training program. And knowing that I was a communication major and that I don’t really know anything about banking, I was looking for a training program that was going to really set me up. I didn’t want to just be thrown into a job and not really know what I was doing.”
“Besides the training, one was that it was going to be an established company. I wasn’t interested in a newer company or a smaller company. I wanted something that would have different locations that I could move around to, and that is an established company with lots of opportunities for moving up.”
“Another real big thing is community service. I was on a community service scholarship in college, so I wanted a company that encouraged community service. Wachovia sponsors a lot of things and gives a lot of money to the communities that they’re in.”
How important is money?
“Wachovia ended up being the most money, but I didn’t choose it just for that reason. Many of the other companies did offer raises after six months, so it pretty much would have been equal within the next year. That really wasn’t a consideration for me. My parents said, ‘take whatever job you want, we’ll help you to figure things out.’ It was great that they weren’t like, ‘Oh, we’re going to cut you off.’ Money really wasn’t that big a consideration in the end.”
Did you take into consideration benefits as well as salary when choosing your first job?
“My father has always owned his own business, so I’ve grown up knowing how much it costs for people to pay their own insurance. Also, working for a bank I’m going to have all the amenities like free banking. I’m going to get special rates on mortgages and car loans. So yes, I definitely took that into consideration and all the things that a bank could offer.”
How important is the company’s working environment?
“I think that’s important. But it’s very hard to get the flavor of working at a company until you do. I knew people who worked at all the companies where I got offers, so I just called them up and asked them questions. When you go on a second interview, of course they’re putting on a good face. Everybody loves it, and we have this, this, and that. But there are realities.”
“Many companies are definitely making an effort to be honest with you. But it’s not a good match for them if I come and think that it’s just going to be this really easy job. I know something about what the environment is going to be like, but I don’t know all that much.”
How much influence did your peers have on your job decision?
“It is competitive when everybody is looking for jobs. And everybody is like, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t work for them, and I wouldn’t work for them.’ I tried not to pay attention to that. Like I said, I asked people who actually worked at the company. They know. I really tried to not listen to other students too much and just make a decision that I thought was best for me. Everybody picked lots of different jobs. In the end, hopefully, everybody ended up with what they wanted.
What was the most frustrating aspect of your job search?
“I think that the most frustrating aspect was going on interviews and trying to convince the interviewer that although I was maybe not coming from a business background, I had a lot of different skills that would be applicable. I had good grades, was about to graduate from Wake Forest and I could learn on the job. I found it frustrating at times when they would say, ‘Well, did you take this class?’ I would say no, sort of putting across what my strengths are and really making it clear that I can learn. I can learn anything if you want to teach me.”
What do you hope to get out of your first job?
“The best thing I can hope to get out of this job is working experience, real hands-on working experience. That’s why I ended up taking this job. I think this is really going to be a good springboard for anything. With this training program, they’re giving me a really good chance to start out. I think that’s a good confidence booster as well, that they’re saying we think you can do this. I can take this experience if I wanted to go with the human resources route, or consulting, or something like that later on. What I’m hoping is that it’s not a job where I’m just going to get pegged into one track. I’m really hoping that I can get experience and find out what I like best. Maybe I’ll love this and maybe I’ll say I won’t.”
What do you think you can offer as a recent college graduate that other, more experienced job seekers can not offer?
“I’m starting out, so I’m not going to bring as many pre-conceived notions about how they did something in my last job. I think that’s probably one of the things that the company is looking for and that’s why they have this training program — they want to teach you to do it their way. And I think that as a recent college graduate, I’m going to bring in a lot of different or fresh ideas that maybe somebody who has had the job for awhile wouldn’t have.”
Do you see your first job as a career in itself or a stepping stone?
“I definitely see it as a stepping stone where I can learn what I do like. Maybe I’m better at things that I didn’t think I was. I can only see when I get my hands on it if I really am good at things I thought I was. Or maybe I’ll find something completely new that I really enjoy. And maybe it’s the first step in moving up to the supervisor of operations, or it’s the first step in moving out into a different direction.”