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The Next Opportunity? Look For It This Way…

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By Robb Dempsey

Let’s call my friend Jennifer, just to let her have some privacy. When I first met Jennifer she was a law student and was working part-time as temporary labor for my company. Her personality fit well with the culture and she worked hard while she was on-site. The job was one that I liken to a grudge job for most of us who had to help fill-in during rush times at our start-up. The task was repeatedly sticking mailing labels to envelopes and then packaging all print collateral for shipment to the client as they launched with us.

From Temp to In-House Legal Counsel

Jennifer stuck with that job through the temp time frame which I think was 2 months and at the end we offered her a permanent position doing the same tasks. Jennifer came on-board and meshed right into the culture. She had built relationships the whole time she was a temp and the transition to full-time was that much easier since she already had friends at work. Her tasks and role remained the same for a while.

At a year of service with the company Jennifer took on a new role at work. At a start-up there all sorts of opportunities to wear new hats and she transitioned to a Human resources role. We were a small group (<50) and didn’t have an official HR guru in-house. So Jennifer took on the role of distributing open positions to job sites, helping with HR benefits including working with the exec team to close our yearly negotiations on what our insurance providers would be doing for us. As we grew as a company Jennifer put together harassment seminars, employee handbooks and even had a hand in our corporate shindigs.

A few years down the road with law school finished, Jennifer was offered an extended HR position that included in-house legal. I think the official title was Legal/HR Coordinator. In the next two and a half years she would be a part of the inner workings of a $20M+ venture capital raise that would be the key to our company launching into the next phase of our growth and future.

But EVERY Job Is Temporary

The hard part of this story is that with the downturn in the economy our business had to change to maintain control of our destiny and one of those changes was Jennifer was laid off along with 25% of our colleagues. The layoffs are fresh in my mind. Good friends, including Jennifer, who had put in so much sweat equity to stand this company up were suddenly gone. Most of those that are gone are daily questioning why and what are they going to do, but Jennifer’s approach appears to be the same as when she was a temp worker. In her words “I’m looking for the next opportunity”.

In any economy, but especially one like our current situation take any position you can get and once you get in look for those opportunities that allow you to shine. All jobs/positions are created because there is a need within the company. So if it’s sticking labels on envelopes, along with the paper cuts, or long hours sealing the VC deal, give it your best and create a place for yourself within the organization.

Robb Dempsey is sojourning through this life, currently residing in Huntsville, AL and working out his home as a senior software developer. He loves to read and dig in the dirt in his free time. You can find him on twitter @robbdempsey.

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