Tap, tap, tap, beep, beep, tap, tap, tap, beep, beep. Repeat.
I’m sitting on a makeshift bed out of two hospital chairs, bad late night shows are dimly shinning on a TV in the corner, my brother stares at me as I enter data into a spreadsheet that no one will ever use.
“Why are you doing that at 10 PM at night? Are you that invested in your job?” He asks.
“No,” I answer, pausing as I realize what I just said. Figurative glass shattered.
At the time, I was one year out of school and one year since I thought I’d either be an event coordinator for a cruise ship or teaching English in Spain. I had no real direction in life and simply followed the trendy idea of traveling abroad to get ‘life experience’.
All of this changed when my brother was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly, I knew I had to be home and I had to do something worth-while with my career. I canceled all my interviews and took a job at a local nonprofit organization.
Although the relationships I built with low-income elementary school kids gave me purpose, my day-today work consisted of being a glorified assistant to someone who received the credit and 10x the salary (while I was being advised to go on food stamps with my under minimum wage salary). I felt trapped. I wanted to grow in my career, but I also didn’t want to sell-out to a corporation that didn’t care about me.
While my brother, who at the time was working for a sports corporation, was let go because he couldn’t meet his quotas while he was receiving treatment. Talk about not caring.
That night at the hospital, my brother and I stayed up all night talking about our careers and dreams. We made a pact to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and make a change. I expanded my job search beyond specific household names, industries or because someone told me they were cool and not corporate.
I wanted inspiring, motivating, world-changing work and qualities in the next position.
When potential employers asked me in interviews why I was looking for a new role or what I hoped to learn, I was upfront and answered “hands-on projects.” I didn’t want to enter data, I wanted to analyze it. I didn’t want to prepare presentations for someone else to deliver, but to have the opportunity to present so myself. I didn’t want to be locked in a filing room, but out in the business, making an impact.
For the first time in my life I was picky with the jobs I applied to and the one I accepted. I became an HRBP intern for SAP, a huge corporation. SAP delivered 100 times over in terms of responsibility, variety, visibility and pay. On top of that, they offered me full health coverage as an intern, including support for families affected by cancer. Maybe a corporation isn’t so evil.
It is one year later. My brother is in remission; has a job he absolutely loves. And me? I am celebrating my one year anniversary at SAP. I was an intern for 6 months working on projects that impacted the work life of 75K employees and now run SAP’s internship program Internship Experience Project, where I manage the program end-to-end for Tripit, Concur, SAP Ariba, Product and Innovation, and Hipmunk interns in the Bay Area. SAP iXp, is a global internship program that aims to give early talent true work experience and holistic learning and development opportunities, allows me to help some of the smartest young workers of our time find their purpose.
This role allows me to wear so many different hats. I am a mentor, strategic planner, project manager, event coordinator, and giver of connections. I get to interact with such a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate university students and help them, as interns at SAP, navigate this world, stand up for themselves, and not get trapped in a job that they hate.
I never want someone to feel lost or abandoned in their time of need, like how my brother felt when he was sick. SAP and SAP iXp and ensure this doesn’t happen to our interns by being inclusive and taking deep interest in each individuals’ career path.
I still feel a twinge of guilt for not being in a non-profit, but I remain on the ground helping people through my role and through volunteering. SAP encourages giving back and with them I have farmed, built houses, painted murals, and even still volunteer at my old non-profit.
My journey has taught me not to get caught up in what I think I should do, like following trends, or looking to work for the “cool” well-known company. What I’ve learned is that no one can narrow your ‘life experience’ down to one move or role. You shouldn’t rule out opportunities because of generalizations. My idea of selling out for a corporation are completely squashed. SAP is able to take care of their employees and they put it as a priority, in addition to making the world run better. It does not matter they are a corporation, they care and they deliver what they promise.
Life does not just drop the perfect job on your lap without any effort on your part. It is being open, jumping at opportunities, learning, and leaning into uncertainty that allows life to somehow guide you be where you need to be – doing exactly what you want.