College can be stressful enough on its own, especially when you add the stress of having to find a job after you graduate. For some, jobs are ready and lined up by the time the cap and tassel go flying into the air. For others, a long time may pass before you finally land that “dream job”. But what’s a dream job anyway? For this Chilihead, figuring it out was harder than she thought. Sarah worked at Chili’s for over 5 years and was about to graduate. And that’s when she had to make one of the biggest decisions of her life. Check out Sarah’s story…
It was my last semester in college when the reoccurring nightmares began. No, not your typical, “oh my gosh! I’m graduating in a few months!” kind of nightmares, but dreams where I would wake up with a sick feeling in my stomach – realizing the day where I had to quit my job was quickly approaching. My dreams were all fairly similar. In the middle of all the chaos, I had to quit. I didn’t want to. But I walked away from my team anyways, knowing that I was going to miss them terribly and get a sad feeling every time they post a work selfie or a video of one of our managers dancing on social media.
I did a lot of serious thinking over the next few months. I had to figure out why I didn’t want to leave and how to make this pit in my stomach go away. I had worked at Allen Park Chili’s for over five years. Was I too attached to my coworkers? Was I afraid to leave my comfort zone? Was I not ready to graduate and join the “real world?” Luckily, I had to complete 1200 internship hours through my college program. This allowed me to “sample” different jobs, companies, and cultures. After sitting down with my General Manager Partner, Micky Frank, for about two hours, comparing what I liked and didn’t like in my internships with my experiences with Chili’s, I realized why I didn’t want to leave. I loved the culture of the company. I knew it wasn’t something that just existed at Allen Park, either. I had worked in other restaurants, observed other teams at our yearly softball tournament, but most importantly, I had gotten a glimpse of what other restaurants were doing across the country through Twitter. This is when I realized that culture was very important to me.
My GMP and I also spent some time talking about leadership. Food service management in the healthcare industry had been my original plan, but I explained to him that I couldn’t see myself being happy or successful. To be successful, I needed a place where I could be hands on, express my passion, and feel like I could be myself. I needed to work for a company that inspired me, so that I could inspire others. Chili’s was perfect for this. Between sharing heartwarming stories on twitter, to opening up discussions through Women Taking the Lead, to promoting wellbeing, Chili’s has truly created an incredible culture and support system. I believe this culture has shaped some wonderful leaders, and when I think about the kind of leader I want to become, I think of many leaders I have met within this company at all different levels. I want to make people feel special, like they have done. I want to help others become the best version of themselves, like they have done. I want to lead with my heart, like they have done.
I told Micky I wanted to take the summer off to make a decision about my life. I really wanted to go into management at Chili’s, but I had put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into my college degree. I wanted to make sure whatever decision I made was the right decision. This lasted all of about four weeks! After going back to work full time after graduation, I made my announcement that I wanted to stay with Chili’s and now I am so excited to #ChilisGrow!