Leaving Our First Jobs and the Lessons Learned Along the Way

20 minute read

Listen on Spotify here.

Epsa:  [0:01:01] All right. So today we have a really special episode, one that kind of allows our listeners to get a deeper look into who we are. And we have a really awesome guest. We have Miss Hannah Blazei, who runs our awesome blog portion of the podcast. And her and I are here to speak about something that we hold really near and dear to our heart. It’s something her and I just both went through. And we are really excited just to share our learnings and experiences from this. So, Hi Hannah.

Hannah:  [0:01:33]

Hey, guys, it’s fun, I never get to do it on this side. What’s up! I’m so happy to be here and talk about quitting our jobs and finding new jobs. I’ll reveal that that’s our topic of this week’s podcast. But, really, really excited to be here. I feel like there’s a lot of noise about this topic right now but excited to be just like a point person and share our personal experience. I feel like, even with all the noise, it’s nice to hopefully find a story you can relate to. So, hoping that Epsa and I can be that.

Epsa: [0:02:20]

Exactly. Yeah. So she put it so well. This episode is really just about Hannah and I and our journey and a journey that a lot of our friends and a lot of people right now are going through of just leaving your first job and trying to figure out what’s next and identifying you know, what your values are, and finding something that aligns with your interests. And just to like, level south, everyone here because you and I have been talking back and forth this whole year about our journey, but Hannah, just for those that don’t know, walk us through how you were feeling during your first month or one to three months at your first job and just like moments where you identified these feelings that you feel now or we’re feeling like later on.

Hannah: [0:02:58]  

Totally, I mean, I think that coming out of college, I was honestly really grateful for my job. Like we’d graduated during a crazy time. I was grateful for my job and excited. I knew maybe the nature of the work that I was going into wasn’t like so ‘me’ but was excited and hopeful for everything that I thought it had in store at least for a first job. And I would say those first one to three months like that feeling definitely continued honestly, for me. I was, you know, noticing more and more, especially with virtual work, I feel like the actual work that you’re doing becomes way more apparent because all of the frill and fluff of working in person kind of gets shred away and you really see what you’re doing every day. So for me with that kind of magnified look at the actual work, I started to become more aware that this probably wasn’t so totally ‘me’ but, I wasn’t making any dramatic statements or being like, ‘I gotta go.’ I feel like I stayed in that hopeful stage for a while. But what about you? I feel like I know your story a little but would love to hear how your first couple months went on the job.

Epsa: [0:04:28]

Yeah, well, I am glad we both had kind of like same experiences but different timing. I would say that similar to you I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know, if this is really for me,’ especially when it’s just you and your laptop and an Excel spreadsheet. It’s just the three besties, you know. I think for me, it was really month one and I would even say a couple weeks into it. And that had nothing to do with the people I was working with. You and I both worked with phenomenal individuals on our teams. But I think it was really like, when you’re bringing yourself to a task and you’re not equipped with things that fulfill you, it is so hard to get yourself to do it. So I would say, for me, it was week two or three and I was doing the tasks that were assigned to my job description. And I was like, ‘Yeah, this is what the job description said, but I just do not like any of it and it’s really difficult for me to like, log on and do it.’ But I was putting forth so much effort to be like, ‘Okay, maybe if I get good at this, then I can move on.’ And I was able to get like different side projects and stuff. But still, month one, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m just gonna work to get side projects, and then eventually leave and milk those side projects to get me something new.’ Very early on, I was like, ‘this is not for Epsa and she knows it.’

Hannah: [0:05:56]

So right away, you just knew it but you were like, I can make it work for an unknown amount of time?

Epsa:  [0:06:03]

Yeah. Also, I was like ‘okay, I have to stay a year.’ But month three, I was like, ‘oh, no. I just need to go.’ So I was telling you the story but I manic messaged someone on LinkedIn. And I was like, ‘Hi, I saw that you left, like this company after being there for three months.’ 

Hannah: [0:06:20]

Was it the same company you were at? 

Epsa: [0:06:22]

No, no it was a different random Cal Poly person that I found. I was like, ‘Oh, this person left three months into it. Maybe she can help me.’ And it turns out, it was a co-op she was at, but she offered really insightful advice of like, ‘Hey, your first couple months are going to be really rough.’ And that was a breath of fresh air to hear because no one told me it was going to be rough. I thought it was going to be peachy and keen. I didn’t understand the work emotions that I had. I don’t know, I know you were fine in the beginning but when did you kind of have the blend of emotions and work that kind of led you to realizing ‘Oh, shoot. I don’t know if this is for me?’

Hannah [0:07:02]

I think it’s interesting how we started with this idea of a timeline and feeling pressured to spend certain amounts of time certain places, because I definitely felt that, coming into this career that I started in. And you know, I think that, as I was saying, the more time I spent doing this work, the more I realized, I just didn’t even recognize myself, because I wasn’t doing stuff that made me feel like me. And I’m not saying work is going to be like this really awesome, fun thing all the time but I just was waking up every day and doing something that I really didn’t want to do. But more than that, it was something that I didn’t want to progress in, which I think was something that we shared. And that was something that was really really demotivating because coming from a pretty motivated person, I would say humbly about myself, in the real world and in real life and like that’s how I know myself, I came slowly and slowly more and more demotivated only because I was like ‘I’m not in the right place.’ And sometimes you’re in a shitty job but you look at your boss, or you look at your boss’s boss, and you see, that in the distance and you’re like, that’s what I’m working towards. But for me, I felt like I was wasting my time because what I was working towards was everything I didn’t want. Not that I don’t love the people that were my boss and my boss’s boss, but I didn’t want their job. You know what I mean? And I think that was a big difference for me. Like if I was in a job that I was like, ‘I’m working towards something,’ even if it wasn’t in my same company, but I felt like I was on the right path. Not that you even know what the right path is, but at least if I was going in the right direction, I would have felt you know, like it was more justified and I would definitely have been more motivated which I think is a big thing that I see now being in this my new job, which I know we’ll talk about later. It was just those feelings of like ‘Hannah, who are you? You’re not motivated. You don’t want to progress. This really isn’t like you.’ And the more time I spent there, the more depressed I got, because I was every day I’m spending my entire day plus like, you know, extra time

Epsa: [0:09:47]

Oh so much extra time. I know.

Hannah: [0:09:49]

Doing something where I felt like I was walking in the wrong direction and I felt like I was building something that I didn’t even want. And so I just started freaking out a little bit. And I think that that was the beginning of the end and I started to get super emotional about it and really stressed out.

Epsa: [0:10:14]  

Everything you just said resonates with me so much. Especially, I think this is something that I thought about way later, I would look at the people that I was working with and I- same thing- I was in denial of like that would be my next step. 

Hannah: [0:10:35] So, you know, a certain amount of time passes and you realize you’re not going to just do filler projects for the rest of your life to make your job ‘ok’. So talk about the moment when you were like, ‘Okay, I’m going to actively job search.’ And what steps did you take?

Epsa: [0:10:52]

Yes, I think that was a big moment for me, figuring out the next step. And I think that’s one thing I wanted to highlight too, is that your first job is simply just your first job. I was in like, my six month phase of my job and I needed a little bit more time to figure out ‘okay, what else can I sell myself on aside from my day to day work that I just despise?’ So I kind of had that like, ‘Okay, six months it’s time to really figure out what I want to hone in on.’ But I wasn’t putting so much pressure on, ‘Okay, this next job has to be so perfect.’ It was more, ‘Okay, in this first job I’ve learned what I like and I really have learned what I don’t like. Let’s kind of make a list of what I absolutely don’t want in a job when it comes to the type of work or the team dynamics, how global the company is, and all that stuff.’ I was really set on the type of work that I wanted to do versus before the name brand company was what I was focused on. And then I was approaching it with like, ‘Okay, what type of role would I be doing?’ Really just looking at my first job as an exit opportunity was the mindset I was in. And then I was all over LinkedIn from my six month mark until I was gone.

Hannah  [0:12:10]  

Totally. I think what you said is so important. There’s no other way to do it but you go into your first job thinking and wanting certain things and when you leave, whether it’s after a year or after like 15, you’re looking for other things. You know, maybe some of the same things, but you most likely have different criteria if you are making a move, or at least different things that are your number one. I think that that is so important. I started my job search with ‘Okay, now I know what I don’t want to do. So that leaves like the rest of the world that I could do.’ And, for me, I just am an indecisive person to begin with, and I hae a lot of random interests, and I was like, ‘I could really go anywhere.’ And so I feel like that was a really overwhelming feeling. And so exactly what you’re saying, like thinking about ‘what’s important to me?’ And I think we’ve talked about this before, but informational interviews. You don’t want to do them and it feels like a college thing. But it’s a rest of your life thing and especially when you’re trying to figure out what’s next. I would have never ended up developing the job searching journey that I had without having one conversation that made me realize ‘okay, I really liked what they said about this.’ And then having that lead me to another conversation and just having those informational interviews kind of guide my process into developing a candidate that knew what they wanted in their next position. I was basically just like a floating blob of a one-year-out-of-college person, but by actually actively spending the time researching job positions, even if I wasn’t ready to apply, to see what stands out to me and what looks exciting, and then talking to people, to see what stands out to me and what sounds exciting. What gets me what gets me going? I guess, would be like one way to say it. But you just have to start figuring out those things about you, especially if you’ve been kind of in a depressed state or just grinding in your normal job. It can just feel like that’s your total identity, and you don’t even know who you are outside of that. So you have to put in the work to figure out who you are and what you want outside of your current job.

Epsa: [0:15:04]

Plus one to everything you said. I also think there’s no rulebook to any of this and that’s the hard thing. It’s like, getting the job and navigating the interview is one thing, and then you’re like, sealed and delivered. And then you’re really on your own and you feel almost like, ‘I don’t even know if I should be expressing how negative I feel or how sad I feel to my peers.’ For me, that was something that I was doing in the beginning. And I was a little weary of really putting my heart on my sleeve and how I felt about my job because I felt like, ‘Oh, we work super hard. I guess this is just kind of it.’ For me, the more I was expressing it, I got more comfortable talking about how I was feeling and it was helpful in the sense of finding people in the same boat like you and I had a lot to bond about. But then I feel like I was also in this rabbit hole of making my brand ‘Hating my job.’ And everyone was like, “Epsa, how’s life? How’s the job?” And at that point I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m only known as that.’ And I’m not known as a negative person. Obviously, you have ebbs and flows of life and ups and downs, but I really thought that was so tied to me. So for me, like what you’re saying about what gets you going and sparks joy, I was really honing in on: What was so so painfully negative about that job, that I just absolutely have to avoid? And so I would ask my friends, like the ones that I complained to a lot, ‘What were some key things that I would say?” And then use field research from my friends to also navigate what to look for.

Hannah: [0:16:39]

I am so glad you said that. That was the breaking point for me. I think about, ‘What was the lead up?’ It was when I took a final step back when I was feeling super lost in the job search and it felt like it wasn’t going anywhere and I looked at who I was through the people I love eyes’. I was this person that cried all the time, and was so negative and complained all the time. And just thinking back on who I was makes me want to crawl out of my skin. You’re like, ‘I can’t believe I was that person. Like how miserable.’ Thank God, the people in my life are so amazing. But I couldn’t put them through that for one more year, let alone one more month. For the people I love. And for just me as a person. Like meeting new people, I don’t want that to be my bar convo where someone’s like “What do you do? How’s your job?” And I’m just that person you meet that says something negative? That’s so not fun or cool. And I just was like, ‘AH.’

Epsa: [0:17:53]

Actually same. It’s like the whole postgrad thing too. It’s like, you are so tied to your job and that’s a part of your identity so when you have such strong emotions tied to it, it just comes out. It’s second nature. Like, ‘Hi, I’’m Epsa. I work here and I hate it.’ And it was all tied to so many factors. One, to reiterate, it was not the people at all or the company. It was really just, the feeling. Also, it was quarantine, Zoom and I was in my childhood bedroom. Like it was a lot of things happening at once so it was a flurry of emotions, but it was mainly identifying and realizing, ‘Oh my god, we’re going to be working 40, 50, 60, 80 hours a week for the rest of our lives. Let’s find something that we enjoy or let’s find something that we don’t hate and doesn’t become the basis of our personality. Let’s start small.’ So that was my method going forward with it. And I think you and I had had similar search methods for jobs. But okay, I’m curious, walk me through the week you knew you were going to quit, and then how you went about quitting?

Hannah: [0:19:06]  

Oh my God, I feel like this is what makes people not quit. People can be so miserable, including me, and be like ‘But I’m just going to stay because I can’t imagine having that conversation.’ And, honestly, you really have to hype yourself up. Like I knew it was time. And I just was so scared. But you literally have to be like, ‘Hannah, do this for yourself. You can do this.’ Whatever you need to pump yourself up. Listen to whatever music you need to. Think about someone in your life that does whatever they want, whenever they want and seems to get where they need to go and try to channel their energy. And honestly, the thing is, it’s so scary, but you are doing this for yourself and no one else in the entire world can do it for you. Like, I can’t have my best friend call my boss and tell my boss that Hannah is quitting. 

Epsa: [0:20:16]

Your mom can’t call in sick for you anymore.

Hannah: [0:20:18]

Right. I can’t lean on anyone else. It’’s you against you in this moment. And so I think it’s all a mindset thing. But that didn’t make it any less scary. It was just so hard. I really respected the people on my team, which made it a lot harder. I felt like I was disappointing everyone and letting everyone down. So I chose to have personal conversations with every single person on the team and called them and explained myself, and you know, just thank them and tried to make myself vulnerable so that we could have an honest conversation. And I had some of the best conversations that I’ve ever had with some of those people in that moment when I was really vulnerable. I cried during the first one, but then once you jump, you can’t stop. So they kept coming.I understand what an obstacle that part of this feels like, and even other friends I know that have quit. They’re like, ‘How did you tell them?’ Anyways, you just fall and fall and fall and fall. Once you jump and tell one person you just fall and fall until you hit the ground. And then there’s this sense of ‘I did it.’ And it’s truly like the most proud that you can be. I don’t know, I just feel like you’re so proud of yourself at the end of that. I mean, what do you think?

Epsa [0:21:54]

Completely agree. I think it’s one of those things where you just have to rip the band aid off and again, there’s no rule book. You can Google wikiHow “How to Quit your job.” But wikiHow doesn’t know your exact emotions in the job and doesn’t know your relationship with the people. I wish it did. 

Hannah: [0:22:10]

I think I did. 

Epsa: [0:22:16]  

I googled it too. I needed some outline. But same to you. I loved everyone on my team. Even virtually, I built such a good personal connection with them. So almost as a friend I was like ‘I feel so bad leaving you knowing work is going to get busier.’ I just felt like bad, like genuinely felt bad. But again, same thing. It’s like, they’re not going to know ‘Oh Epsa really likes to do creative stuff’ or ‘Epsa really likes this. Let me connect her with our Director of Marketing.’ Like what you’re saying, no one is going to push you to that opportunity

Hannah: [0:22:51]

Right. Or like, ‘Epsa, I think it’s time you leave and go pursue your passions.’ Your boss is never gonna come say that. Unless someone wants to share with us the coolest boss story ever. Like business as usual until you say something, you know,

Epsa: [0:23:08

Honestly, yeah, that’s the moral at the end of the day. It is a business. You just really have to separate emotions from it. But yeah, Hannah, if I made a creative slide deck no one’s going to be like “Damn, Epsa had sick fonts. She should transition to marketing.” And that’s what we were saying. That’s for you to realize. Even if you’re so miserable in your first job, you’re still in it and you still have that opportunity to figure out what you really don’t like and what you do like. So those days that you have, those positive days, really, really hone in on, what made it positive so you can navigate your search. But back to quitting. I put a one-on-one on my director’s calendar. And that was the first domino. And then once that fell it was like I have to talk to everyone. And it was very, very bittersweet, but I kept reiterating, that I loved what you guys all gave me as a person: the learnings, the conversations… I just really wanted to pursue XYZ. And if you’re nervous about how to frame it, just, you know, thank your team for their time, what they’ve given you and be authentic, and then just reiterate like, ‘I want to pursue my growth.’ And no one should be mad at you for pursuing your growth.

Hannah [0:24:25

Right. I mean, I think I was surprised at how supportive everyone ended up being in that moment. And I mean, that isn’t a promise that everyone will be super nice but I think, exactly, like framing it and being vulnerable and saying, ‘this is what I need to do for me.’ No one. No one can argue with that, even if they’re not nice. And so that’s always the way to go. And I think that the way we did it, where we were respectful, even if our team hadn’t been our favorite people in the world. Keeping those connections strong, and giving them the respect that they deserve, or maybe you don’t think they deserve, but giving them that respect and then leaving it on that note is so important. It just made me feel a lot better.

Epsa [0:25:19]

I love that. I agree. And then once you quit, and you and I are both in these new jobs. And we also wanted to point out, Hannah and I were in pretty similar industries. I don’t know about you, but I was only getting recruited for jobs in that same industry, as I was navigating my search. But her and I both are in new roles that are very different than what we were in before. So we’re like living proof that your first job does not define your career path. It’s really how you milk or make your experiences matter to the next. But when you like were exploring your new job and were trying to find something, what was the biggest thing that you wanted? 

Hannah: [0:26:06]

I was looking for that feeling that I kind of touched on before but of being excited and feeling like I was walking in the right direction for my personality. I wanted to look at the people that were going to be above me, or look at the potential. It was kind of all about potential for me because I realized in my first job that I was willing to grind and I was willing to put in the hours. And I knew that, you know, I’m leaving my first job to go to another entry level position. Like I don’t have experience. I’m trying to switch jobs completely. Like I knew I was going to be starting from the bottom again. So I was just really looking for excitement around the potential that was going to be there in my new job. And you know, I ended up in a position that I would have never even thought of fully. It all just happened the way it was supposed to. But the feelings of excitement I think is what I was really looking for because I’m someone that gets excited really easily and then gets passionate and I just love that. And then I was looking for things that I knew were gonna bring out different parts of my personality. As I said, I like missed certain parts about me. Which may sound weird but I was like ‘Hannah, Where are you? Like come on? We used to have fun.’ So I think that I wanted to know that I was going to see a little bit more of that. It didn’t have to be Hannah Dreamworld but a little bit more of that and just something that brought out that excitement in me.

Epsa: [0:27:40]

Oh my gosh, like everything ‘Yes.’ And I think I agree with all that and for me, I had very similar what I was looking for. And then just things that were a next stepping stone. Like this next job, I don’t know if it solves all my qualms of corporate world or what I want. But it’s like, what can I speak passionately about? For me, I think it was like when someone asked me “Epsa, what do you do for work?” I want to be able to be excited about it and have some pizzazz to what I’m saying. That was mainly it for me. But also something that was creative and allowed me gain things that I could take somewhere else. The biggest mindset I’ve had now, especially with like the Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffle, is you are so in charge of the corporate world. Like we have so much power. You’re not bound to a timeline. You’re not bound to years. It’s like, gain as much as you can and go from there.

Hannah: [0:28:50]

Totally. I love that. I love what you said about feeling excited about it. I saw a friend at a birthday party like two weeks ago and I hadn’t seen him in months, back when I was Negative Nelly. And he said “How is work?” and I literally got to turn to him and be like, “It is so good. Thank you for asking. I got a new role and I’m really excited about it.” And we didn’t go too deep into but that single interaction… I literally called my mom about it the next day. I was like “Mom, someone asked me how work was and I said ‘good.’”

Epsa: [0:29:37]

Wait I love how that is like a breakthrough because one day I had an amazing day. I called my dad was like “I’m just so happy today. I’m on a walk, work is good.” I just want everyone who’s miserable in their job to then also be in the same position that we’re in now. But even though we’ve been through the ringer and we learned what we needed to learn, and we’re still growing, Hannah, I have a million dollar question for you. Knowing what you know now, like everything from your past job, learnings and feelings, would you still have accepted that role and that job? 

Hannah: [0:30:12]

I love this question because Epsa and I say the answer changes daily. Here’s the thing I would say to this question. If you’re in college and you’re listening to this, there are things that I wish I actively considered before jumping into my first role that maybe would have made me not end up where I did. But, that being said, and I feel like most people listening to this are already in their role and they’re like ‘Shit. What did I do?’ Which I feel like I felt a lot. I was like, ‘Hannah, you’re so dumb. What did you do?’ But it’s so funny because I am working in a job that I wouldn’t be in without my background which is so random because it’s a totally different field but I’m literally in the technology equivalent space of that initial job and so many people at my new company have my same background and that was what originally led me to it. And now I’m on this super exciting innovative side of that job that I originally was doing and I’m like ‘I would never have ended up here. It’s so cool but it’s so random and I would have never ended up here if I didn’t have my first job.’ It’s just life, I guess. Right? It’s just hard to explain. Like would you take it back? Maybe. But then I wouldn’t be where I am today and then maybe I would be somewhere else but is that better? I just never know. 

Epsa: [0:31:44]

You really just never know. I’ll ask myself this.

Hannah: [0:32:06]

Sorry, I’m being a bad interviewer. Epsa, would you take your first job if you could go back in time? 

Epsa: [0:32:10]

Well thank you so much for asking Hannah. I would care to share. So, I still would have. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so happy now and I’ve forgotten all of the sad things I was feeling but yeah I think I would have because I learned so much about my limits and I learned so much about learning the separation between work, mental health and life that I think a lot of people don’t learn until later on in their career where they’re given things a little bit more arduous. Both of our jobs were pretty aggressive in work load. A lot of jobs are but we were in those fields. I don’t think some people our age get that until later and then they have these realizations and feelings. So I would have accepted it because I’m glad I had those learnings really early on and it led me to meeting you, it led me to having a different outlook towards conversations that I have had and it’s made me stronger. And whenever I see people in positions that we were in, I’m like ‘let me be your savior.’ I know you’re totally the same with that. But yeah I still would have accepted it. Again, it led me to where I am today and I’m so so happy with my role, new people, new team because I knew how to be intentional about what I wanted and what I continue to want. 

Hannah: [0:33:34]

Totally. I think it’s just part of our evolution and turning into the people that we are meant to be by facing something that seemed really hard but also both having the guts to stand up for ourselves, for lack of a better world. And not against anything, but literally just against… 

Epsa: [0:34:03]


Hannah: [0:34:03]

Yeah. And I could still be in my first job and everything would be fine but the pride and the way I got to know myself, which sounds so dumb and obviously people do way bigger things, but in your life doing these things for yourself shows you that you’re worth it and you care about yourself. And you are and you should care about yourself and so I think that this just gave us both this amazing sense of that. And then I feel like we’ve both talked about this so much, but we got to bond and relate with each other and relate with other people, as you were saying, that are going through such similar things and, I mean, I gotta say that if anyone’s made it to the end of this episode and they feel like they have no one to talk to but relate on some level and just want to talk, you get the exclusive rights to DM Epsa and I. We could obviously talk about it for hours if people couldn’t tell..

Epsa: [0:35:11]

We have.

Hannah: [0:35:12]

It helps! It’s free therapy. So DM us. Talk it out. Be your own advocate. That’s what it taught us, I think. 

Epsa: [0:35:24]

I have nothing to add. I wish I could give those sentences you said, just bold them. Because to wrap it up, it really empowered us to be like ‘Wow, this is my journey. This is not my school district’s journey. This is not my major’s journey. This is my journey.’ And this was like the first real adulthood stuff. It’s not like applying for an apartment. There’s a process for that, follow the steps on Google. This is like your own journey and we’re still learning. 

Hannah: [0:35:58]

Always. Oh my god, always. But hopefully it helps and obviously, as we’re saying, there’s no manual and no one’s story is the same. Just know, you can do it.