Starting Full-Time At A Place That Is Hard To Define

December 29, 2016

I knew I could grow there—fast. That’s how I respond when asked why I chose to work for SEP. Subsequently, my co-workers later told me they felt they ‘just knew’ I was a fit for this culture and the work we do here when I asked them why I was chosen. Knowing which job to say ‘yes’ to is tricky when freshly leaving college as an undergrad. Many technology degree holders (thankfully) are able to have options for career starters towards the end of college. In my experience, many choose companies according to these factors: getting an offer, how well known the company is, the brand, how well-known the culture is, where the company is located, and/or if they knew anyone that has worked there before. Oftentimes, an undergrad’s fresh and new view of the world makes it difficult to know how to prioritize these factors. Getting caught up in popular reputations and names going around during senior year is hard to ignore at times. People turn into their most competitive selves at that point when it’s a race for company offers. I knew I was getting wrapped up in it all like everyone else because it’s difficult to avoid what everyone around you is defining as success, but I didn’t stay wrapped for long.

I had my options including big names and large corporations along with medium and small size companies, but one memory I have was a realization when reading outside on a bench swing one afternoon. I realized I needed to figure out what I really wanted outside of the noise and everyone else’s thoughts. I want to design positive experiences for all users. I am committed to implement design trends and innovative interactions to do things better and faster. When creating a product, I will be using ethics, values, and intention. I can learn and get better through a variety of experiences. When I chose to go to SEP, I realized I was sold by the team and the way the work captivated and challenged me, but even I didn’t really know how to explain SEP. We are not as prominent in the media for mainly two reasons, in my opinion: 1. We don’t have our own product that we sell that can define us (we are a service company). 2. We have a nature with many of our clients to keep our work with them private so we can ensure their preferences and work with them in a close and undisclosed partnership (over many years, in some cases). It was difficult explaining to my family and friends about where I work because it is truly unlike another place. We don’t have a recognizable name that many state university students (minus Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where our founders are from) know, and we aren’t associated with the larger well-known Indianapolis software companies (Salesforce, Interactive Intelligence, Lilly, etc.) because we are inherently different by what we do and who we serve.

I realized over time that I got to use this unfamiliarity to my advantage because when I speak to interested ears about where I work, I naturally get to explain why I chose to work here. That is a wonderful way to feel important, an advantage. Here are a few takeaways I have about explaining a workplace that is hard to define:

  1. It is okay that it is hard to define where you work. That is a chance to value its uniqueness. Establishments that have been around and booming with business to startups alike all have a vision and focus on something that gets the employees motivated to work and contribute to keep the power on. Understanding the motivation is how you can understand the company. Get to the heart and understand where the passion lies because that is what will keep you going regardless of brand or location.
  2. If you love your co-workers, think about why you love working with them when defining the workplace. This helps me tremendously when I explain why I work here.
  3. Think about what you do, your day-to-day dull days and extraordinary days. If you can confidently say you love what you do and you are getting out of it what you feel gets you to your goals, it’s a worthy place to be. For me, that is an easy way to define where I am. It’s a feeling that is uncertain in any other place or location or position other than where I am and what I know here and now.