I Stepped Outside My Comfort Zone—and Landed a Job That Inspires Me Every Day
Our mission here at The Muse is simple: to help you find your dream job. So, there’s nothing we love more than hearing about it when you do!
Today we chatted with Ting-Ting Zhou, who’s a year into her job as an Operations and Borrower Success Manager at CommonBond. The work she does every day is helping change the student loan market by delivering substantial savings, a simple application process, exceptional customer service, and a strong commitment to community and social good.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m a proud Duke alum, entrepreneur, and social justice activist. While in college, I started a bioscience company with friends, was the CMO of a student-run food delivery and service business, and led campus protests and campaigns focused on eradicating racist-themed parties and igniting conversation surrounding female body image. I’ve been attempting to meld together all my interests ever since. I feel most at home in the world of startups and appreciate the opportunity to work on constructing the skyscraper rather than just the landscaping at the top.
What were you looking for in a job, or why were you excited about this job?
I was looking for an opportunity where I would be challenged every day and where the pace moved quickly. I was previously a restaurant manager and enjoyed the high intensity and almost constant feedback that I received daily, if not hourly. I wanted an environment like that to encourage and allow for my own growth. Work-life balance was very important to me as well, and I was happy to find out that CommonBond offers unlimited vacation to its employees.
What attracted you to CommonBond?
At the time I applied to work at CommonBond, there were about 20 employees on the website. Upon seeing that and digging deeper, I had an educated hypothesis that I would be in the company of really smart, motivated individuals who relish the idea of building something from the ground up.
What’s something most people would find surprising about working at CommonBond?
I was surprised to find out that we have a significant lack of barriers within our organization. One example of this is our completely volunteer-driven “Culture Team.” Every quarter, we pick five employee names out of a hat, and these five people from across the entire company get together to plan fun events and activities. We’ve gone to see the Red Sox play the Yankees, and I organized a white water rafting trip last summer. It’s an effective way to engage team members across the organization to foster a great company culture.
I also think people find it surprising how much CommonBond stands behind its commitment to financial wellness for employees. For example, the employee student loan repayment benefit gives every team member with student debt $1,200 a year to help them pay down their student loans. You get access to this even if you just joined the company, and continue to receive it as long as you are an employee until the loan is totally paid off!
Learn More About CommonBond
What’s your favorite part so far about working at CommonBond?
If I see an opportunity, I have the resources to come up with some solutions, pressure test them, and then propose them for action. It’s awesome to be able to take action on projects really quickly, because I can see that it affects how our team does our jobs day-to-day and how our members experience our product and service. All of this doesn’t live in a vacuum, either—this process can move quickly, but it generally involves at least two people from two or more teams. It’s great to have that cross-collaboration and input from all parts of the business.
Is there anything from The Muse that helped you out in your job hunt?
Besides first finding CommonBond’s profile while browsing jobs on The Muse, I found all the articles about how to update your LinkedIn profile and write cover letters really helpful! I definitely followed many of those tips during my job hunt.
What advice would you have for someone who wanted a job like yours?
Step outside of your comfort zone and look at profiles of companies you’ve never heard of before. Talk to friends and friends of friends who work at places where you could see yourself developing and thriving, and ask them what their day-to-day looks like. Submit your resume and cover letter to places that you’re not 100% sure about, or maybe not even 70% sure about—it never hurts to meet people and learn about how different companies are growing.
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