Name: Tyson Ross
College and Graduating Year: Auburn University, May 2014
Current place of employment: Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD)
Current place of residence: Austin, Texas
Hobbies and Interests: Exercising, Outdoors, Sports, Friends, Food
Q: Did you start college with a clear idea of what you wanted your major to be? If so, what did that look like and how did that change during your time in college?
A: I started college with the idea that I wanted to do something in business. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do specifically, but I had 2 years of general business courses to decide. When it came down to the time that I had to narrow my choices, I chose to follow the Finance/Accounting route because it offered the most advanced business courses available. At the start of my last year, I chose to focus my major solely on Finance, while pursuing a minor in Information Assurance (IT Database and Accounting). I enjoyed the forward-thinking approach in finance and became increasingly interested in capital markets. I chose my minor because I enjoyed the practicality of accounting and felt that the knowledge of database/accounting software would provide a nice backbone for a wide variety of careers in business.
Q: Can you walk me through the detailed step-by-step process that you went through to get your first job out of college?
A: I started applying for jobs at the beginning of my final semester at Auburn. I had a fairly extensive internship background in commercial real estate, but it was not something that I wanted to pursue as a career. I reached out to various connections including relatives, family friends and acquaintances who I knew worked in the finance industry. I knew that I wanted to work in Austin, which narrowed my search down to several companies, as many of the finance roles in Texas are located in Dallas and Houston. I had connections through family friends at AMD and also at Dell, so that is where I started. I was able to get my resume into the right hands at both companies, expediting the process by a couple of weeks. I had initial phone screenings at both companies and was told to wait 2-3 weeks for a response. During this waiting period, I applied for several other positions at various companies including GM, Dimensional Fund Advisors, and others. I had an initial phone screening with DFA and was able to secure an interview over the same weekend that I was flying back to interview with AMD. Over Easter weekend, I had interviews with both AMD and DFA. Both went very well. Within 6 weeks of my interview with AMD, I received an offer for employment. I accepted and began work within 2 weeks after that.
Q: What aspect of that process was most challenging or stressful for you? Looking back, what advice would you give to college students to make this aspect less challenging?
A: The hardest part for me was that I did not apply to enough places. Sure, I used Indeed and various other job search sites, but those will not get you very far in my experience. You have to get out there and meet people and make real connections. You will find that people actually want to help you. The more personal time you have with someone who is part of the hiring process, the better. I was lucky enough to secure a job while only interviewing with 5-6 companies. If I were to do it over again, I would start much sooner. I would try to secure an internship in a relevant field. I would spending the majority of my final year in school applying to tons of places, even if I had no intent of accepting, just to become better at the process. There are a lot of people who look good on paper but lack the necessary social skills to succeed in a personal interview situation.
Q: What was the biggest adjustment or adjustments for you going from college to full-time employment?
A: The biggest adjustment for me was the structure that was added to my life, which can be good or bad depending on how you like to live. In college, I had freedom every day to do whatever I wanted. Besides exams, there were rarely any important deadlines and time was limitless. Now, I come to work for a set amount of time each day, do my job, and then go home to my personal life. I have grown to enjoy the new structure in my life and it has allowed me to appreciate my free time more.
Q: Do you have any advice for coping with these adjustments?
A: Embrace the change and get used to it.
Q: What are some of your current short-term goals?
A: Right now, I am focusing on expanding my professional career. Since starting work over six months ago, I have a lot more responsibilities. The only way to grow as a professional is to take on new tasks and take ownership of them. I know that I will make mistakes along the way, but I will learn from them and that is what matters.
Q: Is there anything else about your college and career experience that you would like to add?
A: College is supposed to be fun. Life is supposed to be fun. Do what you need to do but enjoy yourself along the way. No one is on their deathbed wishing they had studied more or worked more.