How I “Defined The Relationship" With My First Job Out of College

It was 9:41pm on a Friday, but the daylight in Lillesand, Norway was not letting up. Earlier that day, my New York-based coworkers and I had caught fish, baited crab traps, and enjoyed a Norwegian dinner with open-faced prawn sandwiches. As we gathered around the campfire to make s’mores under the dimming night sky, I thought to myself, “How did I get so lucky?” 

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This time last year, I had just completed my undergrad at Stanford. It was an exhilarating and significant moment, but fear soon consumed me. I laid in bed as questions roamed my mind. What am I going to do now? How should I go about finding a job? What do I want to do? Without the immediate goal of completing a reading assignment or preparing for a midterm, I was facing an existential crisis.

The months of job-hunting after graduation felt like Tinder: I expressed interest, went on first dates with various companies, got rejected, licked my wounds, and got back up to repeat the process. Finally, a startup called Firsthand swiped right. I got the opportunity to be a Customer Success Associate. Not knowing fully what my job or any of this would entail, I packed my bags and left the Bay Area for New York City to begin my first serious relationship with an employer.

As with any healthy relationship, Firsthand and I needed to set expectations. When we finally met in person, Firsthand’s CEO Fredrik described three core values that were fundamental to the company and to our working relationship: Generosity, Proactivity, and Problem-solving. These three values act like spokes on a wheel - “without them Firsthand can’t effectively move forward,” he said, “and they will be critical to your success.”

Intellectually, I knew what those three words meant, but I entered the relationship not fully knowing why they mattered. It was ultimately my coworkers who showed me, in their interactions, how generosity, proactivity, and problem-solving helped us succeed as a team. And it was ten months in, at our Values Day retreat in Norway, that these values helped me define the relationship (DTR) with Firsthand.

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Once a year, on Values Day, the Firsthand team gathers to discuss how our values have helped us in the past and how they can help us in the future. We have a thought session and an activity for each value. We collaborate, laugh, and reflect in an open environment, and come home with new ideas that we’re eager to implement .

In a relationship, success isn’t determined by the number of likes on an Instagram photo or the score on a final exam. At Values Day I realized that success for Firsthand, beyond hitting financial and strategic goals, is about continually striving to be the best versions of ourselves. As we grow and work together, the company becomes the best version of itself as well. None of this would be possible without our values.

Every day, I see my teammates be generous with their time and teaching each other new skills; I see them be proactive in establishing trusting relationships with customers and clients; I watch us lean into solving big problems as opposed to backing away. No matter what hurdle we’re facing or emotion we’re feeling, our three values move us forward.

People often say that you get out of a relationship what you put into it. After putting in generosity, proactivity, and problem-solving, I’m happy to say that my relationship with Firsthand is going strong.

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