Walking into my boss’s office the very first day of full-time work, the only thing going through my head was “Oh God, I am 2 hours late on my first day thanks to snow… “. Up until that point, getting to Omaha had already been a struggle, and my efforts to try and start my first day of work in the real world on a good note had to wait yet another 2 hours. The next 4 months proved to be some of the toughest of my life. Today, however, I realized that it has all been a blessing in disguise.
I have come a long way since that first day, and today is the perfect day to show that comparison. On my first day, I had thoughts like the ones above, and my outlook towards my job was not exactly the optimistic, positive attitude I used to have every day in Atlanta. A few more weeks in, after getting swamped with nothing but support tickets, the frustrations only seemed to increase. Up until June, these days seemed to outnumber the good days. Fastforward 10 months to today. Today, my day was as follows: Come into work at 8, check email, finalize a presentation that myself, the rest of my team, and my boss would be making to our Associate Vice President (AVP), attend a Google Clean Code Video lunch session, meet with our AVP, and rounded out the day with some more emails and leave around 5, and share the news about a great meeting (more details about that in the next paragraph) for a few minutes after work. Now, of course I won’t be meeting with my AVP every day, but for a woman that is headed for the leadership track, this is about as good as it gets. However, I wouldn’t be doing justice if I didn’t go into more details about the AVP meeting- because that is really what made the day quite spectacular.
The meeting started off with some acknowledgments from my boss about the presentation I had prepared in its entirety. My team-lead and I split the slides that we were to present, which were interspersed by questions and discussion with our AVP. Although it was a formal presentation, after just a few minutes, it felt comfortable and I felt like I belonged there – certainly not the feeling I had back in January. Everything went very smoothly, and the entire presentation was filled with compliments from everybody in the room. However, the highlight of this meeting was not what happened during the meeting, but what happened in the few minutes after it. Not only did I get a chance to speak one-on-one with my AVP, but she invited me set up a lunch meeting with her to casually discuss more about women in leadership positions in technology AND an idea that we should attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference next year. She rounded out the conversation by commenting on my first-ever suit-and-skirt professional power-dress combination, topping off a perfect day.
Although I struggled a lot through the first few months of the job, today showed just how far I really came. Within 10 months, I now get to manage 2 people, sit in regularly on meetings with senior management, and my ideas for enterprise-level strategies get heard. So, would I have loved to work at Microsoft, Expedia, or any of those other companies which are in big cities? Absolutely. But, I am positive that those opportunities would be much harder to come by than at UP… and the skill-set that it has let me build in such a short amount of time still leaves me in amazement.
So, here is a little tidbit of information: For all of the times that you might have questioned why you made a decision, don’t think on it too much. There is ALWAYS a reason for everything… sometimes it just takes a while for the reason to become clear. Whether this is 10 hours or 10 months, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you embrace the environment around you and learn everything you can while you are there and stay positive. This mindset and attitude is a recipe for success and happiness.
For the longest time, I was wondering why it was written in my fate that I had landed in Omaha. A complete city girl in a smaller town… why? But, 10 months away from the city has given me the time to reflect. So, at first, being in Omaha did not seem like it would be the most glorious experience. But today, I truly feel like I am the luckiest girl in the world, and as a result of the hardships, I feel like I can have an even greater appreciation for all of my great days. Thank you, Omaha, for being my blessing in disguise. :)