Choose Your Pond
Ever since I've been old enough to tie my own shoes (okay, more like Velcro strap my toddler sneaks), I've been known for being fiercely independent. "I. do. it. MAHSELF," I'd retort to my Mom as a stubborn 2-year old getting ready for preschool. That mantra set the tone for the rest of my childhood and adolescence as an archetypal oldest in a family of 4. My parents, being relatively laid-back and hands off, gave me the bandwidth to run things on my own: extracurriculars, college applications, and ultimately the post-grad job search.
In retrospect, I believe that this same fierce sense of autonomy is what led me to where I am today. When I was applying for jobs as a senior in college, I was enthralled by the prospect of working for the State Department, or a large financial tech firm, then bulge-bracket consulting, world-class PR, all driven by the fact that I was surrounded by bright, competitive peers and that’s what everyone else was doing. One day I received an email through Johns Hopkins’ Career Services from a company called "AlphaSights", asking me to take an online video interview. Given that we’d had a recent bout of spam postings, curiosity (and perfunctory obligation) compelled me to report this perceived false employer to Career Services and inquire if they were in fact legitimate. Turns out they were.
So, I pursued the interview process, round after round, and upon visiting the New York Office, I was blown away by the way that my future colleagues spoke about the company and the vision we were looking to achieve. Everyone was so down to earth, yet so visibly passionate and articulate about how we were transforming the way that the world brokers intelligence, and the sense of personal autonomy they felt in their day-to-day work. I was immediately hooked.
When it came down to my ultimate job prospects I was weighing two options: AlphaSights… at the time, a 25 person company in a class-C building in Flatiron with no 401K, no benefits, nor brand...up against, a top-3 PR firm with a global reputation, great mentorship opportunities, and a sterling stamp on my resume. Was I going to be a little fish in a big pond? Swim around for 2 years, and then flush out to the next, the bigger, and better thing (whatever that may be)? OR, was I going to be a big fish in a little pond and seize the (frightening) opportunity to develop my own path, take ownership, build one account, multiple accounts, a team, and embrace ambiguity… failing and learning along the way?
I realize that the AlphaSights I joined nearly 3 years ago is not the 25-person start-up in a class-C building as it was when I joined ship; however, despite our change in size, scope, location, and abundance of functional resources (you know like consistent heat, internet…) the ability (rather, expectation) to have a direct commercial impact on the bottom line of our business has not changed in the slightest. In small teams of 4-5, and clusters within larger client segments, we emulate the same high-energy environment that rang true at our 25-person shop. As long as AlphaSights continues to be a place where I am constantly pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, learning, and developing, I see the organization as an amazing launch pad for any career, and will forever be thankful that I chose the smaller pond.
Micaela joined AlphaSights in September of 2012 and serves as a Manager in our New York office.