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  • Writer's pictureOsnat Benari

Networking on steroids, dream internships and Starting from Scratch with Mariana Kobayashi

I contacted Mariana as I stumbled upon her post recapping her 2021 on LinkedIn. All I could think of was, "Wow". I felt I needed to talk to her as I thought I could learn so much; her resilience, her planning mode, and how she fits all she does on her schedule.

I am always intrigued by people who start from scratch and wonder if they have secret DNA allowing them to do it all so well.

Being a Planner

If you meet Mariana, you'll meet an entrepreneur and a can-do person, all wrapped in the most optimistic personality with an infectious smile. Mariana says she "was always an existential person, someone with a plan, someone that wonders where she'll fit in and what will she be doing in her life." At the age of 14, she started a Pancake business to save money for a trip to the UK. After this famous trip, going to Med School no longer made sense to her, and she turned to study business.

One of Mariana's plans was to one day take a gap year. Debating if she should do it between her school years, she decided to postpone that and finish her studies first. Post-graduation, she took that gap year and traveled to Guinea to look for her roots, travel, and work for a bank. Returning, and after many rejections and many more anxiety attacks, she landed a job at Accenture.

The Spark to Make a Change

The found internship role made Mariana realize that consulting work is not for her, and she decided to work on the person she wants to be.

In the book "Starting from Scratch", I write about the Spark. The Spark is a trigger to Start from Scratch, and it can be external (Like being laid off) or internal (like not liking your workplace anymore or reaching a ceiling). Once this Spark is initiated, and one realizes where they are is not working for them anymore, they need to define the new version of themselves (in the book, covered in The New You chapter). Mariana realized that and made a list:

  1. Leave Portugal and work elsewhere.

  2. Work in tech, not in consulting.

  3. Look for a purpose-driven company or NGO.

  4. Company with a good culture

  5. An entry-level position in sales, marketing, or venture

Regaining Control and the Importance of Mental Health

Speaking to Mariana was inspiring. While she went through several ups and downs and struggled with her mental state throughout finding the new version of herself, she was consciously working on getting better.

  1. She stopped using a smartphone for a month and went offline from time to time to regain her energy.

  2. Started a running club with 100+ users from all over the world in an attempt for a Guinness World Record for the largest online run/jog in the world.#kobayashirunningchallenge.

  3. Read 14 books in one month.

  4. Traveled.

  5. Spent ten days without speaking, living with Buddhist monks & meditating 12 hours a day.

Mariana's journey is impressive, but she openly talks about the moments she was noticing her mental health was sinking. She says it's essential to be aware and try things that can help you, and she tried it all, from reading to meditation or acupuncture. During this journey, she wrote an ebook, "Productivity Might Be Killing You", and her #kobayashirunningchallenge created the first network for mental health in Portugal.

The New Mariana

Because Mariana's first sentence to me was "I'm a planner," I had to ask her how she planned the new version of herself. She immediately admitted she had a list of 30+ things she needed to know or do to land a job that would encompass who she wanted to be.

"I was mostly afraid to look back and regret something and to find myself looking at a person that's not content and not who they wanted to be," so here's a partial list she executed on:

  1. She participated in an intensive 10-week coding Bootcamp so she could feel credible to work in tech.

  2. Learned about LinkedIn optimization and edited her profile to be found by relevant people.

  3. Talked to people who inspired her and helped her to learn and how to think.

  4. She started a podcast so she could build her brand and improve her communication skills.

  5. She proactively reached out to startups and requested to interview them for her podcast. This also helped her reach more companies and be known.

If you wondered where's Mariana these days, she landed that role she was working so hard for. She continues to interview people providing career tips and plans a trip to India.

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