“How I Landed my Dream Job at a Healthcare Startup” by Hailey Carter
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you cannot even imagine it not working out? For me that was finding a job in healthcare at a startup in Nashville. A little specific, I know. But it wasn’t just that I wanted it, it was what I needed to do. Everything in my life had led up to this moment.
Since I was 13, I had been enthralled with Nashville and as I went through college all of my academic and extracurricular interests lined up with a career in Nashville. As many of you likely are doing now, I started applying to jobs. Let me tell you, that was the worst. It was like being a new kid in school and just saying “Hi, I’m Hailey please, please, please like me.” I fine-tuned my resume, spiffed up my Linkedin and mentioned to everyone I knew what I was interested in just in case someone had a connection.
One thing I didn't realize about getting a job with startup is that their hiring needs and timelines can be a bit unpredictable; kinda like a rollercoaster. That was certainly true in my case. Here's how my hiring process went. By Christmas time my senior year, I had applied to over 100 jobs and hadn’t heard anything back. Not a single response. At that point, I was frustrated but if only I knew how things would escalate.
I kept chugging along and eventually found OhanaHealth. I thought why not apply to another thing, so I did. I answered some wacky questions and sent it off. If I didn’t mention that my hopes were high when I clicked submit, I would be lying. The phrase that caught my eye for Ohana was “we make it easier for kick-ass students and high growth healthcare startups to find each other”. I WAS THAT STUDENT. When I was given the opportunity to interview for Ohana, my hopes swelled even higher. Then it happened “I hope this email finds you well. I'm reaching out with an update on the status of your Ohana application.” As you can maybe imagine, I did not receive stellar news. I was let down, but at this point I was in panic mode. I did not have time to lament on this, I just went back to applying to more jobs.
Then the craziest thing happened, I received another email from Daniel a few weeks later about a potential opportunity. I was pumped. I responded immediately and wanted to know more. A few weeks later I interviewed for this role, then I interviewed again, then I stopped hearing back from the person I had been interviewing with. I let a little bit of time go by and then followed up. Once again, another interview. Then it happened “We’ve decided to go with another candidate”
I decided to move on. Maybe Nashville wasn’t in my cards right now. Once I opened my mind to other opportunities, they started coming. I was offered an incredible role with the greatest, most inspiring people I have ever met. It might not have been what I expected, but it would work.
At this point, I had committed and was ready for this other job not in Nashville. And then, in a very unexpected turn of events, the company I had been interviewing with previously (that decided to go another way) ended up having a role they wanted me for (remember that roller coaster I was telling you about)?!
Let’s take a moment to pause.
At the literal last moment everything changed. With only a moment of hesitation I committed to this new role and within 17 days, I was in Nashville. I felt like I was living a dream. Sometimes I still feel that way.
In all honesty, this might seem like a frustrating story to some of you. I wouldn’t blame you if you were thinking “Great for you. The dream you had became a reality, but how does that help me?”
Well, there are 5 points that kept me going throughout this whole process, that I hope – no matter where you are in your job or internship search – can help get you through it.
1. It’s not you, it’s them
I know it is so easy to let negative thoughts towards yourself creep in to your mind when you are being denied from everything around you. But within the hiring process there are so many things going on. You could be an extremely qualified candidate, but things just aren’t aligning, Not to mention, if you are applying to an early-stage company they have so many things changing on a daily basis that it is extremely difficult to hire someone when their needs as a company are constantly changing. Please, please, please keep in mind that you are great, wonderful and qualified and it will work out in some way. It just might not be on your preferred timeline.
2. Lean on the people around you
I hope by the time you are at this point in your college career you have found inspiring mentors and invested friends. Throughout my whole rollercoaster of emotions while applying to jobs, my advisors were always there to give me ideas or look over cover letters, resumes, applications, etc. My friends were there to cheer me on when I got an encouraging email, but they were also there to bake cookies when things didn’t work out.
3. Don’t let comparison steal your joy
Likely you are seeing what seems like everyone and their mother posting on social media or Linkedin that they are so excited about this new journey they are beginning and how they cannot wait to start their job in X place at Y company. This can make it seem like you are the only person in the entire world that is unable to find a job. But in reality, you are not alone and your timeline is not the same as anyone else. Someone who just found their dream job could have been in your same boat a few weeks ago. The timing of everything within the job process varies so much on the region, industry, company size, etc., and you cannot let comparison keep you from moving forward.
4. Don’t give up
If you have a dream, do not give up on it when it doesn’t work out immediately. Be persistent and keep at it. Think of the greatest sculptors throughout history. They had a vision of what they wanted to sculpt and a giant piece of rock in front of them. They had to chip away at this massive chunk of rock and hope that what they envisioned was going to be at the end of it. Heck, sometimes the arm of their greatest work just fell off. Talk about a road block. You are the sculptor of your future. You have to keep going along and putting in everything you can if you want to get to this dream. If you give up when a hurdle comes your way or a metaphorical arm falls off, you won’t be able to get that final destination. But if you keep at it, you’ll have a wonderful work of art in front of you.
5. It will all be okay
Because I know how hardworking, persistent, qualified and intelligent you are I know that it will all be okay. If what you thought was your ultimate plan does not work out, it will be okay. If your biggest dream comes true, it will all be okay. I am fully confident that if I had ended up at the other job I originally accepted, I would be okay. I would have learned from that experience and come from it better than I started. Let every opportunity you have be a learning lesson. Let every door closed in front of you, push you to work harder. Go in to it with the best mindset you can, work hard and you will come from it with more clarity on what you are passionate about. We are young. We have our whole lives ahead of us. Just because something doesn’t work out now doesn’t mean it is all over. It will all be okay.