Passion led us here
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Want to join a hyper-growth company?

It’s no secret that tech is a sought after industry. Tech companies make up half the top ten on the best places to work lists in both Fortune and Glassdoor. Professions like data scientist, solutions architect, mobile developer, product manager, and software engineer all rank in the top ten of the best jobs in any industry.

So how do you get one of these “best jobs” at the “best places to work,” especially if you’ve never had tech training?

We found three Textio staffers who shared their winding paths to a tech company. Less than five years ago, they each thought they had careers they wanted, but upon stepping into their respective roles, discovered that they yearned for something else. They will share the lessons they learned as they changed careers and how they landed a prestigious tech job.

Kamilah Jenkins, Software Engineer:

Photo of Kamilah Jenkins, Software Engineer at Textio with her puppy

Kamilah and her puppy, Freyja

Biggest lesson: Think about the tasks you love in your current job and figure out how to do those full time.

I was a new psychology graduate, working in research at University of Washington’s Medical Center. In the course of my work, I found a way to automate rote tasks using Excel formulas and noticed I enjoyed the automation project more than my other obligations. As I did more of this, I started to realize that psychology was not really the career path I wanted, and started thinking about getting into tech. As I continued to work on these projects, I realized tech combines every aspect I look for in a career: social, creative, and investigative dimensions. Then I feel in love!

My research position at UW was my first job out of college, and I was nervous about making a switch too soon. I made small, yet determined, steps towards becoming a software engineer. I started self-learning by making games and personal tools in Python. I attended tech events in order to find out more about the field and to network. After three months, I nervously quit my job and joined Ada Developer Academy. After the program, I had an internship with Microsoft, and then an internship with Textio.

At Textio, I saw that the company has a nurturing culture and a focus on projects that ensure you are always learning. I was instantly drawn to the work, to the people, and to the kinds of problems the augmented writing engine solves.

Tim Halloran, Director of Marketing:

Photo of Tim Halloran, Director of Marketing at Textio with his dog

Tim and his canine companion, Dexter

Biggest lesson: Figure out how to apply your previous experience to something brand new.

I started out my professional career as a writer, but wound up an interactive producer for museums like the Smithsonian and the California Science Center. I spent 15 years doing a series of odd things in that role, like writing scripts for Tess (a 50-foot tall animatronic test dummy that taught biology to kids), and designing a public browsing interface for a massive national art collection. Much of my work during that time involved studying first-hand how people consume content in three-dimensional, non-linear spaces — as opposed to more traditional linear media, like books and television.

Once content strategy began to emerge as its own discipline in the tech industry, I saw an opportunity to apply the experience design concepts that I had developed for the museum world to a much wider audience. So I took a job as a Content Strategist at a large Seattle design agency, and began to explore a personal thesis: that the way people consume content online follows most of the same engagement principals that I learned from designing museum experiences.

After about a year, I moved into a Director of Experience Design role at a different agency, where I first heard about Textio in a meeting with co-founder Jensen Harris. His description of Textio’s vision for the future of communication synced perfectly with my background in writing, content strategy, and experience design. And once I saw that future, I couldn’t unsee it, and had to be part of it. Although I had never worked for a tech startup before, I decided to make the jump.

Allie Hall, Customer Success Engineer:

Photo of Allie Hall, Customer Success Engineer at Textio atop a mountain

Allie summiting a mountain

Biggest lesson: With passion you can find purpose. Keep seeking roles that get you closer to your dream.

The first time I learned about linguistics, I was looking up what the LING course code meant. I didn’t even know that the study of language could be a thing, but after one look at the description of the linguistics major I fell in love.

Researching words and speech became my bread and butter. I started my career in public relations because my affinity for language made me a natural storyteller. Whether it was the words in press releases (try making network functions virtualization sound exciting) or Drake song lyrics, nothing made me happier than investigating language and its impact.

But I wanted to do more. At the time I worked at a global PR firm, Edelman, on their technology team. That experience taught me that a magical world of ones and zeroes could take me wherever I wanted to go. And that’s more or less how I came to Textio — customer success is the perfect intersection of all my passions. I use Python, which I taught myself, to translate customer data into stories about how augmented writing impacts hiring.

As Textio’s first recruiter, it’s fascinating to hear all these stories of career change. As we build out the team at Textio, we’ll continue to seek out people who gravitate towards innovation and value learning. For those looking to make the leap to a hyper-growth company, it may seem daunting, but these three stories show us just how it is within anyone’s grasp. Try a few classes, learn some new things, and see where your passion takes you. You may even surprise yourself.

By the way, we’re hiring at Textio!
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