Transitioning from Wall Street to the Internet Speedway: A PSU grad’s take on finding the right career
By Michael Weinhouse, Founder and Co-CEO of Logical Position.
Michael graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor's of Science in Economics from PSU's College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
With graduation season in full swing right now, I find myself reflecting on my own experience in college and the early steps I took to launch my career. I remember the trepidation of pondering what my future held—feelings I am sure new grads are all too familiar with.
Four years ago, I founded Logical Position, a search engine marketing agency based here in Portland. When I began my education at PSU, digital marketing was nowhere on my radar. How did I find my way here and how does a new grad navigate the maze of their career and find fulfilling work on the other end? If you’ve just graduated, you’re probably searching for that answer. As I’ve thought back, here are a few things I learned that may help you manage this dramatic transition:
When in Doubt, Play to Your Strengths
When I started college, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. But at the time, I had no idea how that would play out, so I studied economics, knowing those principles would bolster my larger goal. I was lucky enough to at least have the single vision of entrepreneurship, however vague it might have been. Not everyone has a vision, so when the path is murky, it’s most important to take confident steps.
As you move through everyday life—while working a part time job, studying for exams or connecting with family and friends—develop an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, what you love and what you hate, what matters most to you and what you can let slide. Ask people you trust for their insight. When opportunities come, use this understanding to make choices that play to those strengths. That way you’ll be moving with confidence in your own ability.
Think Long Term
After a couple years of study, I recognized that starting my own business right out of college probably wasn’t in the cards. Instead, I refocused my attention and started working as a stockbroker. I knew I wouldn’t start my business on Wall Street, but I also knew that experience would serve me in the long run. When you’re considering a job, ask yourself these questions: Does this job play to my strengths and is it in line with my larger goals? If this job isn’t exactly what I’m looking for, how will it enable my next opportunity?
Recognize Good Advice
After two years of marginal success, my manager pulled me aside and suggested I’d be a better stockbroker if I took a break and found a job cold-calling. Had I been more stubborn, I might have ignored my manager and continued my marginally successful career. Instead, I listened to someone I trusted and found a job in digital marketing sales that ultimately led to my current career. It’s hard to take advice when it doesn’t fit your own narrative, but when those with experience are willing to share a bit of it, take that opportunity and judge the merits yourself.
I left college to work as a broker just a few credits shy of graduating. I traded stock for two years and cold-called for two more, and it wasn’t until after I launched Logical Position that I returned to PSU to finish my schooling. Since I’d already started my business at that point, some might believe that taking those few extra credits might not have made a difference. But my degree was important to me and as I finished, I learned how good it feels to pursue a goal and complete it. In the end, our careers are made up of completed projects. We start things and finish them. We aim to create a body of work we can be proud of.
All the things I’ve shared here are great, but they’ll all be worthless if you don’t work hard. Don’t expect success to be handed to you. Take on extra work. Accept challenges. Expect a higher level of performance for yourself. This is one thing I’ve learned that has mattered most.
This is an unsure time for so many people but if you consistently play toward your strengths, think about your career in the long-term, listen to good advice, finish what you start, and above all else, work hard, you’ll put yourself in the position to succeed by whatever definition you set. Congratulations on all your hard work and good luck out there!
*Note about the author: Michael Weinhouse is the Founder and Co-CEO of Logical Position — a search engine marketing agency that helps businesses increase their visibility online, headquartered in Lake Oswego, Ore. with a satellite office in Henderson, Nev.