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The truth about my first tech job

brendalimon profile image Brenda Limón ・6 min read

Hello there! It's been a while. I've been doing a lot of things during this year, and there's something that I learned that can be very useful for you if you're new in this environment.

A year ago I was kind of stuck, I wanted to learn how to code but I wasn't sure about how, when, what platform, book, etc. I was starting to feel very stressed because I had no job, no money and a lot of free time that I wasn't using. Then I saw on my social media a post of a girl that I've never met in person but that was part of the environment, she has a company that teaches kids about technology, so one night I decided that I was gonna contact her, I had nothing to lose and she is someone very popular and known in Mexico City.

A way to contact someone you've never talked to is by email, but it can happen that you don't have that information, then don't be scared and just say hi, what you want and if you can keep talking on that social media or if he/she can give you a direct contact. It's very scary, I know, but it's worth it, cause you have nothing to lose.

So I sent her a DM in Facebook and I went to sleep, now that I read it again I know I made some mistakes. This is basically the message

Hi (person)!
I've been looking for the perfect words to introduce myself and impress you, but after thinking about it I consider that the best thing I can do is been honest, just like you.

The reason why I'm texting you is that I'm stuck in this point of my life and I'm done with that.

I studied communication, a career that I discovered was not for me and I tried to quit but I couldn't because of my family. I tried to start a startup a couple of years ago and I failed, I stayed away for my family emotionally, I went to therapy, and basically right now I'm a failure.

I'm not saying this so you feel petty for me or anything like that, I'll just like if you could give me some advice about what can I do.

I have no job, I'm 24, I'm learning to program by my own which is stressing but exciting, I'm from Puebla but I travel a lot to Mexico City, so I'll like to know how do you manage those hard moments when you don't know what to do.

Also, I'll like to know if you're looking for someone to help you with your company in anything, cause I think the project is awesome and I'll love to help you. I know we don't know each other in person, but anyone who's able to speak out loud about her feelings deserves respect and admiration. So I believe that you are the kind of person that I need in my life right now.

If you made it till here, thanks, I'll like to invite you a cup of coffee sometime and hope you have an awesome day tomorrow.

Thanks again, Brenda

Yeah...that was embarrassing, believe me. Never send a text in the middle of the night, your mind is not on its best moment.

But! I was lucky, I guess she felt petty for me and the next morning the answered my text inviting me to a call, so I could tell her more detailed why I was so desperate. We talked for like two hours and she invited me to Mexico City to talk about the possibility of joining the company. I felt in heaven, even if it was something extremely embarrassing, I had the chance to sit and talk to her about how could we collaborate, and that meeting finished with me being the new member of the team.

There's something that you must remember, sometimes the people that you follow with the awesome photos and all the phrases are just photos of the life they're struggling to live. She was awesome, successful and the ideal mentor for me, I loved the project and even with my low experience in engineering, I worked very hard to make the company successful.

Sadly, after some weeks, I got to see the reality. We were just four people on the team, the leader, the party designer, the graphic designer, and me, the learning leader. Must of the time, it was just the leader and me. She told me that they were having problems with money and that she was not able to pay me a lot, but that she promised to pay me more after some months. I decided to trust her and don't ask for what you must always ask, a CONTRACT.

I signed a contract for not working in another company like hers or using the material, but I never signed a contract to protect myself. But she believed in me, she was a good person, so it was okay. I started working with the kids, which I loved and making social media, but then the one who helped us with the graphic design didn't send all the designs so I started to do graphic design too using the skills that I learned in university. I started to do sales by sending texts to the parents, having like 50 different conversations at a time, and I was good at it, to be honest, is not like I didn't like it, but I was paid just for the lessons.

Three months passed and I was living in Mexico City with some money that I saved, but I wasn't get paid yet, I learn about circuits, laser-cut, 3D printing, programming, animation so I could give the kids a very good experience, and I really liked my job, but I was noticing that I was doing must of the job and I was not being paid, and it doesn't matter if you love it, you need money to survive and as long as it's not your company, your project, is not worth it.

So, after a big Christmas party where I had to deal with 22 kids on my own almost, I had enough. I was giving money to buy things, paying for my transport, and getting nothing. I went home and I realized that I had no more money, when I asked my boss when I'll get it she said soon, but I had to wait almost 2 weeks and for the four months I got 8000 pesos (411 dollars). I loved my job, but I learned that I was being used, so I asked for the money I invested and my boss didn't answer me...for almost 6 months! She just disappeared, she had a lot of stress and decided to take a break without telling. I wasn't fired, I didn't quit, she just texted me six months later to ask me for the keys of the warehouse, like if those six months never happened.

I realized that sometimes even between startups, NGO's and small companies where you can grow and learn a lot, people are gonna care more about be profitable than taking care of the team who's giving everything for it to succeed.

So, in a resume, this is what I learned from that experience:

  1. Don't text someone in the middle of the night and if you do make sure not to use more than 100 words.
  2. Business meetings are important so bring always a notebook with points about what do you want and don't be scared to talk about it.
  3. Ask for a contract, always.
  4. Establish the limits of your work, is okay to explore other areas but remember that you're not getting paid for it.
  5. Remember teamwork, if you feel youre doing all the job, ask for a meeting and try to fix the situation.
  6. Don't be scared of learning. Try to always learn something to make your work better.
  7. Don't be afraid to talk about money. You're working, you deserve the pay.
  8. If they want you to do everything, is time to talk about the roles in the company. More responsibility deserves more power.
  9. Save the tickets in case you need to pay for things for the company.
  10. Your work has a price because you studied, spent time in the office, you did your best, and you deserve it.

What do you think about this experience? Maybe I waited a lot to do something, but I learned to recognize that my work has value.

Discussion

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allison_seboldt profile image
Allison Seboldt

Sorry that happened to you Brenda! Thank you for sharing your story because this is such an important lesson to learn: never work for free. When we think of money we tend to think of greed. But in reality, money is exchange for value. YOUR WORK HAS VALUE. No matter your skill level, no matter how good the cause is, no matter what future opportunities MIGHT arise from doing the work, you deserve fair compensation. <3

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Stephen Griffiths

Thank you for this candid story! It was really honest of you to share the unfiltered version and the lessons you learned, and I think it will help a lot of people. So, thank you! Hope things are better for you now (or in the next job!)

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ruudniew profile image
ruudniew

Very honest story, thanks for sharing. I like the 10 lessons you learned from the experience. Best of luck with your next career steps!

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douglasfugazi profile image
Douglas Fugazi

Leí tu historia y me sentí triste por tu situación, a la final la gente tiene buenas intenciones pero cuando se trata de pensar en lo humano y pagar lo que alguien se merece es donde sacan sus peores actitudes. Lo viví alguna vez, pero se esas cosas se aprenden. Lo siento mucho, hoy actualmente cómo estas? Ya estas en una buena empresa? Me alegra mucho que sigas aprendiendo tu y dedicación, sigue adelante Brenda. Saludos desde Colombia.

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rhymes profile image
rhymes

Thanks for sharing Brenda!