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My First Job and a New Home!

Ruika Lin
Ruika graduated from the University of Virginia in the Class of 2011. Originating from China she’s travelled from coast to coast in the US and is currently exploring the world of crowdfunding and self-publishing.

After graduation in summer of 2011, I landed my first job in a few months. I packed up everything, said goodbye to my alma mater in Charlottesville, and moved to the city of Arlington, Virginia.

I lived in Rosslyn, the area in Arlington closest to Washington DC. It has more of a city feel than the rest of Arlington.

Having lived in the student village of UVa for four years, it took me some time to adjust to a more metropolitan lifestyle. Driving to and from work, paying rent and utilities, and sharing responsibilities with two other roommates.



My Working Life Begins

My first few months on the job were the happy I-want-to-make-a-difference-in-the-professional-world and let-me-do-more-work-to-show-my-drive-and-initiative honeymoon period.

Dressing up every day in business casual, having my own cubical, working excel spreadsheets on a company laptop, using a corporate credit card, enrolling in professional association membership, having a “peer advisor” and a “mentor”, and booking travel, all seemed very rosy.

I felt like a grownup who could actually call myself a young professional.


Contrary to my excitement and positive attitude was my complete lack of work.

Due to the nature of the industry, I wasn’t staffed on any existing project for about 3 months.

The utilisation rate is the percentage of one’s overall hours that are dedicated to chargeable client work. It is one of the most important elements for the performance review. So my competitiveness made me antsy about not having any chargeable hours.

I knocked on the doors of Managers and Partners setting up “coffee chats”, desperately asking for work. Still nothing. After a while of ceaseless effort, I gave up temporarily.

I instead listened to a friend’s advice, and studied for and passed GMAT using those several months of idle time.

Right out of college, I set my mind on going to a top business school at some point in the near future. I thought I might as well get GMAT out of the way now as I had plenty of time.

My First Project

Soon in the late fall of 2011, I got my first ever project, a short-term assignment at a client site in Philadelphia.

Although it was only a one-week engagement, I still remember being extremely excited about travelling for work, renting a car, and doing expenses, all for the very first time.

Right after this one-week project, I immediately got my first long-term project in DC that lasted for about 5 months. Without having to travel out of town since the client’s office was located in the city right next to where I lived, I would take the metro to the client site every day, experiencing working in the city with a team of coworkers from all over the place including Canada and California.


It was an easy project, unrelated to the role I was hired for, but I met some great friends there.

Coming out of that project, I’m looking forward to the summer to start as well as my next project in Boston.