My First Gig


Everyone piles into a room, grabs a chair, and opens their notebook. You’re in a meeting. If you’ve never worked in an environment where meetings were a regular thing, it can be somewhat of a culture shock. My reaction the first few times was that I would rather be working in my cube productively than getting sucked into a meeting for a few hours. There’s still the occasional meeting that warrants a groan, but I’ve learned it’s often important to be there in person. Topics will undoubtedly come up that, if left in solace, you would be oblivious to. You would not be able to contribute or be able to provide critical feedback on items of discussion. You’re part of a team now and meetings can really help build a strong team over time (or help you become part of an existing one).

The hardest part of meetings is not taking things too personally. Most engineers have some level of personal investment in their projects. Everybody else has personal investments too and it can be all too easy to go on the defensive because someone else has a differing opinion. The more passionate the team is the more often this comes up. I find a great deal of value in those differing opinions, personalities, and goals. Each person on the team has strengths which come to play for the benefit of everyone, your project, and your organization. If you’re receptive, you might even pick up a new perspective from someone who disagrees with you.

Another factor in these meetings is your own contribution. You’ve been hired not just because of your skills but also because someone saw something unique in you that they wanted to bring into their team. Maybe you balance out other perspectives or bring energy to the room that wasn’t there before. Whatever it is, don’t hesitate to contribute what you think when it bears relevance to the discussion.

Nathan Levesque is one of the key engineers at My Perfect Gig who makes stuff happen.  Nathan graduated from college in May 2008 and shares his thoughts and insight into the real world of working as an engineer through his blog “My First Gig”.

My final semester at college, although light on the academia, was a bit heavy on the anxiety and stress.  I had not  found a solid job to move on to after graduation. Come February of 2008, most of my evenings were spent scouring the web for opportunities. I took to the usual avenues of rewriting my resume weekly, perusing job boards long into the night, and waking up at 4 am to get to a 9 am interview in Boston at a staffing firm. My searching became increasingly frantic as graduation date loomed nearer and my efforts bordered an obsession. It consumed too much of my social life and my spare time was fraught with worry that wasn’t doing me any good.

As the weeks wore on and my frustrations mounted, my image of the ideal first job out of college became broader. I had become less concerned with finding the perfect job and decided I would be happy finding one that would simply pay the bills. That wasn’t a good place to be; it meant I’d devalued myself by thinking that I was –  in someone’s eye – unqualified for all these jobs. It’s hard when searching for a job not to take these things personally.

The last few weeks of my job search were like a storm. Emails and resumes were flying everywhere and I was getting phone calls at all hours of the day. Then, out of nowhere, I got an email for a job at a company named My Perfect Gig buried among a dozen other job leads. It wasn’t another staffing firm soliciting me; it felt like there was an actual human being on the other end. They were a start-up so there wasn’t much information about them. I arrived at the interview with cautious optimism, but was quickly impressed with the quality of the people and the sophistication of the technology they were working with. I’ll be honest; it was downright exciting that this company wanted to hire me right out of college. Up until this point, I had all the doubts in the world about whether I was going to find the right fit.

They made the offer – YES! I gave myself a few days to be sure, but my mind was already made up; I would accept the job. At that point, I realized I had been persevering through weeks of stress and frustration for a job where I could work with people who were passionate about their job. That passion is infectious.

A few weeks later I attended graduation with a swagger, itching to start my new gig.  I had found My Perfect Gig.

Nathan Levesque is one of the key engineers at My Perfect Gig who makes stuff happen.