Growing up, the message was clear: go to school, get good grades, you go to university, get a good degree, and get a well payed job. At my school, there was never any mention of starting up your own business, so the thought never crossed my mind. It wasn't until I was in my last year at University that it hit me that I didn't want to have a standard 9-5. But for some reason, I suppressed that desire and went on the hunt for that "dream internship" which would get me started on my "dream career."
At the time, I thought social media would be a great way to go. I enjoyed it, and I knew a lot about it from having built up Atlas. So when an internship opportunity popped up on LinkedIn which would be based in my home town, I didn't give it a second thought. Before I knew it, I was being interviewed, and within a month, it was down to just two others and myself.
As the weeks progressed, something began to stir inside me. Was this really what I wanted? Did I really want to go and get a job? What about Atlas? Would I have to give that up? The truth was, I really didn't want to. All I wanted to do was focus on carrying on developing what we had started to build. The thing is though, when things go that far, it's hard to turn around and say "Oops, sorry, not actually for me!" so I kept at it.
Can you guess what happened next? You guessed it; I got the job. I should have been ecstatic, thrilled, over the moon! Instead? I was nervous, angry at myself, and refusing to admit to anyone the mistake I had made. So, being the stubborn person I am (and terrified what everyone would say), I packed up my flat (in Cornwall!) and moved back home (to Switzerland!). Needless to say, it didn't go well.
My first day was horrendous. Not in the sense that work was hard or that people were mean. It was totally the opposite actually; everyone was lovely, the work was fun. But I was miserable. All I could think about all day long was how huge a mistake I had made. I felt like an idiot! Who gives up their dream like that? I had.
But had I? No, I hadn't... I'd just taken a wrong turn. I went home after my third day, and told my parents I was going to quit. Thankfully, they were incredibly supportive, and encouraged me to follow my dream. The hardest part about it all was having to admit to the people who had employed me that I'd made a massive mistake. They were disappointed, but ultimately understood and agreed that I should pursue Atlas further. I finished my week with them, and within a few days, I was back in Cornwall, preparing myself for my next challenge: Atlas.
So what did I learn from all of this, and what advice could I give someone who's unsure about their career?
First of all: If you know you've made a mistake early on, TELL SOMEONE. Don't sit on it like I did for weeks and weeks, too scared to admit to anyone that the path you're going down isn't quite what you thought. Be it a university course, an internship, a job, the sooner you admit it, the less grief you're giving the others around you in the long term.
And second of all: don't be scared to follow your dreams. Seriously, if I had done what everyone had told me growing up, I wouldn't be where I am now. Sure, our business still has so much further to go, and I'm learning every single day. It's a struggle. But it was the best decision I ever made, and I don't regret pursuing it for a single second.