Going from a college graduate to working full-time was not an easy transition for me. My college was paid for and I never really understood the meaning of work. I remember working for Foot Locker when I was in college and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it until there was an Ole Miss football game in Oxford and I abruptly quit. No, work had never been a priority.
My first job out of college was in 1995. I really struggled. Wearing a tie daily, and understanding the competitive landscape of recruiting came as quite a shock to me. My peers were excelling and I was just not getting it. Yes, Aerotek was tough. The average tenure for someone at Aerotek was less than a year. For some reason though, I did not give up. I remember having conversations with friends and they would always ask “Why don’t you quit?”
My father played a huge role in me sticking with it. He encouraged me to persevere and work harder. He told me to listen to advice and learn as much from the experience as I possibly could. It was really hard. I remember one Sunday I came into the office and we all talked about the strengths and weaknesses of the 50 recruiters that were in the Austin office. I was probably sensitive, but it seemed like at least 1/2 of the afternoon was a discussion on my weaknesses.
That confrontation was the best thing that ever happened to me. I listened to everything that was said to me that day. I took every piece of advice that was given and I got better. I started winning my peers over one by one. A manager noticed some of the changes I was making and asked me to join his team. I knew that until I changed teams I would never be successful at Aerotek.
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When I joined the new team, I had to start over. I had been with Aerotek 1 year. My goal was to be a Contracts Manager and in order to do that I had to be promoted from a recruiter. It was hard, but it was worth it. Whatever I did the year before didn’t matter anymore. I persevered.
5 months later, I was promoted to a Contracts Manager. I quickly became one of the most successful Contracts Managers in the country. I gained some of the top accounts and received awards quickly. I was happy. I was so glad I didn’t quit. I was proud of my accomplishments.
If I would have given up, I would have just been another Aerotek casualty. Instead, I became a great recruiter and what I learned I have applied in every aspect of my life today. Now, I don’t agree with all of the things I learned at Aerotek, but I have learned some terrific things. It is because if this experience, that I believe separates me from other recruiters.
There are a lot of times in my life where I have given up. I have said “I just cant take it any more”. I was right when I left some roles. Other times, I wish I would have stayed. Perseverance does pay off. You can have success when you persevere.
I have had a Cal Ripken poster in my house that I have had since the Aerotek days. I think we all have a lot to learn from Cal. He never gave up. Never took a day off for 2632 days. That is an astonishing feat.
Before you make a change, is the grass really greener? You will be amazed what will happen from sticking it out.