I planned to grab coffee with Tara Robertson on a chilly Saturday afternoon, but some last-minute things came up, so we settled for a phone interview instead. I sat on an L-shaped grey couch at my friend’s house, and grabbed my phone, my pen and notepad.
“Hey!” I hear the smile in Tara’s voice when she answers.
“How are you?” I haven’t seen Tara much since she graduated from the Digital Enterprise Management Specialist program at University of Toronto Mississauga in June 2010.
I couldn’t wait to start the interview. I really wanted to hear how she got her job as a Marketing Coordinator at Toronto-based mobile software solutions provider Polar Mobile.
Tara found her first job with the company – a contract business development role – through a career website. She was initially worried by all the contract entry level jobs posted on the site – she wanted a full-time job.
But when Tara interviewed for the position, she felt that things clicked. And when they met her, they changed the position from contract to full-time. She started in May 2011.
Tara says she believes she got the position because:
In the business development position, Tara mainly did sales support. She researched leads, qualified inbound leads and researched events for the sales team to attend.
Then, in January 2012, Tara became a Marketing Co-ordinator. Because Polar Mobile is still a growing company, the marketing team consists of only Tara and her Marketing Manager, so she has a lot of responsibility.
As Marketing Co-ordinator, Tara is in charge of:
“It’s a very fun environment,” Tara says. “And I love working with smart, ambitious people.”
The founders of Polar Mobile created the company in their last year at the University of Waterloo, so they’re still all in their late 20s. Tara’s excitement with working for a young company crackles through the line.
Any challenges? “The flexibility,” Tara laughs. When she first started her job, she says, she would ask to go for lunch and her co-workers would laugh because they thought it was funny that she would ask for permission. She adds that finding a rhythm was also challenging because the hours are so flexible.
“I was surprised at how easy it was to get along with people,” she says. “We have board games on Friday. And people actually stick around after work on Fridays.”
Tara says she was also surprised that she could work on projects outside the scope of her job description.
“If you see a contract [job], go for it,” Tara advises. “If you’re a good fit, you’ll most likely get to stay.”
“And don’t stop job hunting, even if you have interviews lined up.” She says she stalled her job search when she got a few interviews, but none of those interviews came through and then she felt that she had to start her job hunt from scratch again.
“[And] don’t connect [on LinkedIn] right before the interview,” she warns. “That’s too forward, I think.” Tara suggests waiting until after the interview. Sending a customized note to connect on LinkedIn as a follow-up to the interview is a nice gesture.