I graduated from college in May of 2020; bad timing. During a period when most college seniors would be applying for jobs, signing leases, and lobbying for better final grades, the Class of 2020 was contending with employment falling through, courses transitioning online, and relatives going into the emergency room. I was fortunate that no major disasters befell me, and I already had a lease lined up in Louisville with a roommate and landlord I knew personally, but most employers – from major corporations to the neighborhood bar and grille – had completely halted their onboarding.
I scrounged around for a year, making ends meet and working on personal projects, before the vaccine became available and it finally seemed realistic to get a job – not just a paycheck, but a “real” job, something that looks good on a resume, the beginning of my career. I applied broadly in multiple industries, passing over several positions before I connected with ADS. I did not know it during that first conversation with Martyn Gallus (ADS President), but I had unwittingly fallen into the absolute perfect place to work.
Applying for the Sales Support position, I was fully prepared for a soulless cubicle job, but during the tour of the ADS office I began to understand this company’s culture – and got excited. There is a spirit of teamwork, learning, and egalitarianism that manifests at every level. I started to see why it’s called a “company”: this is a small group of people working together to help customers, each other, and the communities we do business with. The management is neither overbearing nor invisible, and encourages employees to improve their understanding of both the industry and personal interests. My training was efficient and thorough, and I quickly felt that I was truly contributing to the team’s success. All the while, my coworkers were friendly, intelligent, and hard-working, and “office politics” and gossip were a complete non-issue.
Working for a small business like ADS has probably spoiled me for all future jobs. If you put forth your best, ADS works with you to make your experience as convenient and positive as possible; I started part-time, eventually transitioned to full-time, and now have a partially-remote/partially-in-office schedule that cuts down on my commute without sacrificing any cohesion with the rest of the team. I have a passion for writing, and very early on I was encouraged to explore this passion by working on marketing materials, website content, and guides for future employees. While I was ostensibly hired as “Sales Support”, I never felt like a drone only used to meet an arbitrary quota: my work varies greatly from day to day, and I absolutely love the creative and collaborative projects that I had no expectation of coming in. I have traveled and met amazing people because of this job.
After about six months of employment, I made what I felt was a somewhat risky call (but in fact never was): I let my supervisors know that I was planning to go to graduate school in the fall of 2022, and I would unfortunately have to leave the company at that time. Rather than being met with cold acceptance (or, as I’ve heard from some peers, inevitable termination) I was encouraged and congratulated. I got a shout-out in the next company-wide meeting (yet another aspect of ADS I love). I have been allowed to continue my work exactly as before, the only difference being that I now get questions about my future, with genuine curiosity and affection behind them, from my universally-supportive coworkers.
I have had a lot of bad jobs, but ADS is not one of them. I have truly enjoyed learning and working with this fantastic group of people, and I will be legitimately sad to go. I have recommended this company to friends and family and will continue to do so, and it has given me hope that there is still a place for the locally-owned small business in today’s economy. If I ever find myself without gainful employment in the Louisville area, I know where my first call will be.
– Patrick Howard