Thoughts on his first job -- guest post from Wharton graduate

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This week's post is written by my coworker Tai Bendit. While his post discusses some details around the job we both have at LinkedIn, the lessons and takeaways are important to everyone at 2 by 22. If you want more content like this (perspectives from my friends), reply back and let me know!

Tai is a Strategy and Analytics Analyst at LinkedIn. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Wharton School of Business, represented his class as the commencement speaker, and studied information systems and organizational behavior. He is an avid traveler and drummer.

Last month, I shed my cap and gown and entered the “real world.” Those of you headed back to college may still feel mystification around this transition. I certainly did.

Already, the school-year timeline that has shaped my life until this point is fading. August is here, but there is no first day of school and no textbooks to purchase. I did not wrap up an internship, pack my bags, and return to greet dewy-eyed freshman on campus.

Instead, I moved to San Francisco to be a “real person” in what has (so far) felt like a dream job. I joined LinkedIn in the Strategy and Analytics Rotational Program with a cohort of eight. For my first rotation, I’m working on the Business Operations Team serving LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. I’m learning how to navigate LinkedIn’s databases using SQL, monitor monetary impact of new product launches, and get around the beautiful Sunnyvale campus by bike!

I’m grateful for the amazing mentors I had during my job search, and want to pass along the same demystifying advice I received to those of you on the job hunt: you can approach the enigma of finding a job in the real world the same way that you approach any life choice -- simply follow the people you admire and the work you find engaging. These are four things I sought out that I now love about my job:

1) The Cohort Experience

In the extensive research on relationships in the workplace, there’s evidence that people who have friends at work find their jobs more enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying. So one of my priorities was choosing a job where I would have a group of like-minded peers with whom I could connect.

For students coming out of college, consulting firms and investment banks are known for creating opportunities for close friendships among the incoming class through a cohort structure. Groups of new hires bond over shared experiences in training, through social events, and on the job.

I’ve found the same community through the S&A program, both within my own class of eight and with the folks who’ve gone through the rotations. Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, describes these people well using this Venn diagram. These three qualities (dream big, get shit done, know how to have fun) are definitely ones that I found in my cohort.

2) Professional Mentorship

As I started my career, I wanted to be surrounded by a group of inspiring and hardworking people who could help me grow professionally. Through my role at LinkedIn, mentors have come in many flavors.

Anthony Tjan talks about three kinds of mentors that great employees have at work: buddy mentors, career mentors, and life mentors. The S&A program has a strong culture of mentorship in all three areas. During our training, second-year S&A analysts led workshops on everything from 401K enrollment to email etiquette, and organized social outings for our cohort after work. On my team, I work alongside two graduates of the program who are adept and accessible. Each new analyst is also set up with a professional development mentor, a senior-level team member who helps oversee our growth within the company. My mentor has been a leader at LinkedIn for five years (and has started his own company.)

(above) Me and my peer mentor Isha at the Half Dome summit in Yosemite

3) Engaging, Analytical Work

LinkedIn has a favorite hashtag: #AlwaysBeLearning. Jeff Weiner (sorry to quote him twice, but he is a Wharton Grad) wrote about what it means to learn and connect to opportunity, after the acquisition of (now LinkedIn Learning...p.s. check if your university has a subscription -- Penn does and I didn’t realize until a month before graduation.)The rotational program fits well into my conception of #AlwaysBeLearning. Each six months I’ll dive into a new team with its own procedures and culture. It will involve a lot of ramping up, but I’ll be constantly learning new skills, making new connections, and exploring my strengths and interests.

4) A Culture of Compassion

I’ve spoken about the importance of a culture of compassion at work. Walking into LinkedIn, it’s easy to feel that the company cares deeply about its people. This month, the theme for InDay, a company-wide culture day, was relationships. Last Friday, people took time off to bond with teammates (my team went to the zoo) or engage in volunteer work. Within the S&A program, the focus on building meaningful relationships runs deep. The most common advice I’ve received from program alumni and leadership is to meet people from around the company to learn about what they do.

(above) Surprise birthday cake for my teammate Sahil

Think Before Browsing

If you’ve ever taken a multiple choice test, you may have been advised to write down the ideal answer in your own words before looking at the choices. For those of you still job hunting, consider applying the same logic: don't start by browsing jobs. Instead, start by imagining what the ideal job would look like. Doing so may broaden the range of choices you consider and save you time applying to positions that might not be a fit.

To me, the four factors above (cohort, mentorship, analytical, culture) were paramount, and I feel so lucky that this process landed me at LinkedIn.

If you enjoyed reading this week's post, reply back with the following:

  1. What was your favorite takeaway from Tai's post
  2. What does your ideal job look like?

Your input helps shape future content and I read every reply!

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