It’s never too late
I dropped out of college when I was 19. That’s typically not how I introduce myself, but it’s important context to how I ended up where I am today. I’m Katie, 31, and I’m now a Senior Customer Success Manager for ITProTV, an online learning platform. Between dropping out and where I am now, I learned from a lot of experiences and lessons. At 19, I wasn’t ready to decide on a major or career. I took a break from school, travelled, and had various jobs. Ranging from bartending, working for a veterinarian, and being a wine sales representative.
My favorite job was when I landed in Gainesville and became a bartender and manager at The Top downtown. Despite the negatives of working in this industry, it was where a lot of people I know get stuck: quick, easy, and fun money. For example, aside from small hourly raises, there isn’t much room for advancement. Schedules are flexible, but you need to work nights and weekends to get the best money. This aspect makes it hard to have a social life outside of the bar. Bartending is a great career for those who love it. Personally, I always dreamed of being financially “stable,” not having to worry about retirement, and having some semblance of social life on weekends.
I set a goal for myself to go back to school and finish my bachelor’s degree before I turned 30. As I worked my way through my classes, I started worrying about landing a job once I graduated. One of my classmates knew my goals and suggested working as a sales development representative (SDR) on an outsourced sales team. I needed to continue studying full-time and worried about how I’d fit in the extra work. After consideration, I remembered my goals and the necessity of networking, and I’m so glad I did. I met with the CEO of the company to discuss my goals and started working part-time in SDR sales while studying at UF.
From college sdr to customer success manager
Working in college on an outsourced sales team allowed me to enhance my sales tactics and networking skills while pursuing my degree. I worked with various local businesses, and met great like-minded people. I learned what kind of career I wanted to pursue and immersed myself in the Gainesville startup and tech community. My favorite project as an SDR on an outsourced sales team was a campaign for SharpSpring. I learned about their company and networked with some of their employees, one even became a mentor to me.
Some of the greatest advice I received was that nothing is out of reach. While working in college is difficult, I took my experiences with sales tactics and applied them to my SDR position and my studies. Ever heard of transferable skills? Even though you may have little “real world” working experience, you likely already have an impressive list of transferable skills that employers are seeking.
I worked for years as a bartender and bar manager. On my resume, this translates into the skill set of fostering strong relationships with customers, multitasking under pressure, excellent team working skills, and even experience with sales tactics. Between my SDR position, networking, and realizing I had more skills to offer, I landed a job at a great tech company in Gainesville. I started in SDR sales and moved my way into the Customer Success department, where I learned I was better-suited. I love my job and team. Also, there is potential for even more growth than I’ve already experienced.
My advice to those in who are nervous about working in college is to stop worrying and start gaining work experience. My position in SDR sales has taught me that nothing is out of reach. Set your goals and remember them. Lastly, work hard on your networking skills by connecting with EVERYONE, and say yes to things you’re afraid of. You got this