How I Landed My First Job w/ Paul Van Winssen

The Prepped Team

June 28, 2021

7 minutes

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At Prepped, we provide resources to help you navigate the job search process. From tips on how to prepare for a virtual interview, to how to build your personal brand, to breaking down how to network like a pro. Sometimes though, it’s better to hear advice straight from the source. That’s why Prepped launched a brand new Conversation Series.

In our webinar series, you’ll hear from job seekers like yourself about their job search, career experiences, and how they launched their career. From executives to recent graduates, the people we interview felt unsure about what steps to take next. But ultimately, they’ve landed their dream job.

We’ll be running the Conversation Series once a month and you can find it on the Prepped YouTube page or by visiting our blog. This is just another way Prepped is getting you ready to enter the job market with confidence.

How Amazon employee Paul Van Winssen landed his first job 

Our first Conversation Series guest is Paul Van Winssen, who works in Strategy and Business Development, International Expansion at Amazon in Toronto. Meg McQuillan from Prepped and Paul talked about what it was like when Paul first graduated from Queen’s University. Here are some highlights from their candid conversation: 

What was going through Paul’s mind post-grad? 

Like so many of us completing a degree, Paul wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do or how to go about his job search after graduation. He transitioned from biochem to an economics degree, but lacked the experience needed to land a job at a large company. The only thing he knew for sure was that he didn’t want to work in biochemistry. He was interested in marketing but had trouble getting noticed by larger companies. Instead of getting down on himself, Paul shifted his attention to smaller organizations, specifically tech start-ups. 

How did Paul discover smaller start-ups? 

Once Paul shifted his mindset from working at a larger company to considering a position at a smaller start-up, his next step was to begin his research. After that, Paul began researching on platforms like LinkedIn and paid attention to news stories on start-ups. Paul’s curiosity led him to notice a posting on his university job site. Paul interned with the start-up, became an employee, and eventually became a co-founder of the company. 

How did Paul position himself with these companies? 

Although Paul didn’t have a great deal of professional experience he could highlight his transferable skills from his time playing sports. As Paul was a team captain with various sports teams, he pointed out attributes such as leadership. Paul also referred to the books and articles he read to showcase his curiosity and tenacity for the industry. All of those attributes were invaluable in helping Paul market himself and get noticed by employers

What advice does Paul have about launching a career? 

Paul says one of the most important lessons when building your network is to create more value than you capture. For Paul, this meant connecting with someone, he’d also bring something to the table. It could be as simple as an article Paul thought they’d find interesting, or someone in his network he could introduce them to. 

Paul also stresses it’s important you don’t give up. Whatever success means to you, your journey won't be a linear one. You’ll go through many ups and downs and it’s important to remember where you are right now isn’t where you’ll end up. Perseverance is key. 

Watch the full interview with Paul for answers from current job seekers 

Watch Paul’s full interview on Your First Job and Post Grad Life to discover how he answers questions from current job seekers. Paul talks to Prepped about how to get noticed through online job applications, whether certifications are an effective way to bolster your resume, and what it takes to advance in a company. 

Whether it’s your first job, the next job, or your dream job, Prepped is here to help. Access career building tools and advice from highly skilled professionals. Sign up today and improve your chances of getting hired.