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Why one ex-Google employee gave her 'two years notice' before starting the job

Liz Wessel
Source: Liz Wessel
Liz Wessel

Before Liz Wessel accepted a position in Google's associate product marketing manager rotational program, she told the tech giant she planned to leave in two years.

She told CNBC: "I said to the recruiter, 'I definitely love Google, but at the end of the day, I can safely say that Google is a place I want to be for the next two years. After that, I'll probably leave and start a company of my own.'"

Wessel kept her word.

Just over two years after starting at Google's Mountain View, California, headquarters in July 2012, Wessel turned down an offer and left the company.

That same night, July 11, 2014, she and JJ Fliegelman launched WayUp, a site that connects students and recent grads with jobs at places like Uber, Goldman Sachs and her previous employer, Google.

Within two weeks, Wessel and Fliegelman had raised $1 million in venture funding.

WayUp co-founders Liz Wessel and JJ Fliegelman
Source: WayUp
WayUp co-founders Liz Wessel and JJ Fliegelman

Wessel always knew she wanted to start a company. "It was not really a question," she said. "But a lot of people advised me to first work for someone else for a couple of years and really learn from them so that I could set myself up for success."

She was completely transparent with Google's hiring team.

After stating her intention to leave after two years, she asked the recruiter two questions: "Number one, am I going to burn any bridges by doing this? And number two, if not, do you have any examples of people who have done this program before and successfully left?"

The recruiter assured Wessel she wouldn't be burning any bridges and listed a handful of successful entrepreneurs who had left the program to build companies.

One such individual was Kevin Systrom, who went on to found Instagram, which was bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012.

Liz Wessel
Liz Wessel
Liz Wessel

While Google was completely supportive of Wessel's career path, it may not be the smartest move at every company. "I don't think you can give your two years notice to just anyone," Wessel said. "Pick and choose who you do that with."

It's also role dependent, she said. "There are some positions where you can't do that. I'm not going to hire a VP who wants to leave in two years, for example, because that just feels really short."

As for turning down an offer from Google, ranked by Fortune as the best company to work for in 2016, "it was tough," the WayUp CEO said. "But I always tell people, you know it's time to quit your job when you can't stop thinking about what you want to do next."

"I kept thinking in the back of my mind," she continued, "there's this problem of college students not being able to get jobs easily, and I know exactly how to solve it — but I can't do that while still at Google."