I am a recent graduate from the University of Georgia and wanted to share my story of graduating during a pandemic, job searching during peak unemployment rates, and joining one of the hottest startups in America.
I am a first generation college student from Lilburn, GA, with a BBA degree in Marketing and a Certificate of Entrepreneurship. My professional goals are to grow into an Account Executive role and then transition to Venture Capital.
Graduating during COVID-19 was one of the hardest experiences in my life. One moment I was enjoying my spring break and the next moment I was ripped away from my friends and the last few months of my senior year. On top of that, I had turned down the first job offer I received because I had a trip planned to San Francisco to explore a different opportunity—a trip that, for obvious reasons, had to be cancelled. Now I had to face one of the worst job markets in recent years with no offers or connections.
The search for a job was a grueling 5 months of denial, coffee chats, and resume editing. I utilized LinkedIn's job feature, which made it easy to specify my search to BDR jobs at tech-startups in San Francisco and Atlanta. The hardest part of the search was connecting with experienced professionals that I modeled myself after, as they were also losing their jobs and going through the same process as me because of Covid-19. This made it hard to keep trying when businesses were not even hiring people with 4+ years of experience.
The difficulties did not end there. It was even more painful to make it to the last round of an interview only to receive the "we regret to inform you" email shortly after. Nevertheless, I kept my head up and persisted knowing in my heart I would find something.
Soon after, I found Tonic while searching on LinkedIn. It was the perfect opportunity for me: a Series A startup with an open sales role and offices in SF and ATL.
I knew Tonic was the right choice after not only my initial research but during the rounds of interviews when I met with Co-founder and COO Karl Hanson and Jake Friedenberg on the Business Development team and had great conversations with them both. The world of developers, data synthesis, and databases was new to me, but the opportunity to increase my technical expertise made me really interested. The challenge of learning the data privacy space and demonstrating value to developers worldwide is what sold me. I joined as employee #12.
My favorite part of Tonic is definitely the people, and you’ll hear me echo this time and again; as a new professional working with people who have 10+ more years of experience than me, everyone at Tonic is always happy to answer any basic questions I have, from simply following up on an email to concepts about data de-identification. The opportunity to learn about the operator side of entrepreneurship and then transition to the investor side later in my career is one of the key reasons I joined Tonic.
So far the top 3 things I learned since joining Tonic are: 1) Time management is the most important skill when working from home. 2) There's a big market for de-identified data, and Tonic is leading the way (not a paid advertisement). 3) In a startup things change very frequently, so be prepared to learn new tools on the fly.
In all, I am thankful for graduating in such an interesting period of time because it helped accelerate my development as a person and a professional, and I hope recruiters treat the rest of the class of 2020 the same. I have to also mention that I had major help from my mentor, and I can't thank him enough. My advice to recent grads? Find a mentor, never give up on your goals, and find a company eager to help you grow.
Enable your developers, unblock your data scientists, and respect data privacy as a human right.