A mother of four can be in tech, can’t she? This inspiration and working mother shares her motivation, tips, and tricks for combining remote work and family life.
You were a Careerist student in tech sales. Can you describe your path? How did you get to this point?
I became a student in a tech sales training at Careerist after seeing the program on social media. I came across Careerist on Instagram right after being dismissed from my coding boot camp. I made it to the end of the boot camp, which was very tough despite the help from my friends. But I didn’t pass my algorithms and data structure mock interview, so I was immediately removed, losing access to the website and curriculum. Shortly after, I came across the Careerist training and signed up the same day.
What was your job before? Did you have any other professional tech background before joining Careerist?
No, I had no other tech background. I had the one training before Careerist, but no experience in technology before that.
What was your occupation before that jump into tech?
My position at that time was sales in the traditional sense. I was working in a healthcare organization selling insurance and AARP memberships.
Was it a very sharp change from healthcare sales to tech sales? What challenges did you face on your way?
Honestly, I didn’t face too many challenges. I was very stressed at my coding boot camp because of the type of learner I am. I needed more time to grasp all those concepts, but I didn’t feel bad about that. I’m a very extroverted person. I love talking and working with people, but I also love technology. It was kind of difficult to tune in and take advantage of what the coding boot camp was giving me, but as far as Careerist, it wasn’t a sharp change at all.
If you compare your previous experience to tech sales, is there a huge difference?
I would say yes. In my experience, the focus of traditional sales is on closing the sale. You are taught strategies and methods that help you close your deals. But in tech sales, the focus is on sharing information. Our job is to convince you to buy something, show the value that we have, and let you determine if the program or software is a good fit for you. So, it’s truly about the client and not just acquiring sales—that’s the key difference, in my opinion.
Before you started in tech sales, what were your expectations? Has your experience matched your expectations or differed?
I believe that my experience matched my expectations almost exactly. I’m learning awesome software used in the real estate market, but I have no rush to get into these demos with clients. I’m being encouraged to take my time to become a software expert. I’m expected to come in, learn the product myself, and to help people learn about the product. That’s what’s happening at my current company.
And now you work as a solutions engineer, right?
Yes, that is my current title.
How does your average day look? What is your routine?
My position is SE1 (Solutions Engineer I). I start every day by checking my email. I see what my career coaches and trainers might be doing today, and I compare their calendars to mine so I can ask to shadow demos with them. If I don’t get to shadow any demos, I might request a follow-up or something for my presentation. I may spend the whole day watching certification videos and studying up on the software to expand my knowledge and familiarity with the product.
Do you mostly work remotely or in the office?
I am a completely remote worker. I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and my office is in Texas, so I’m a completely remote worker.
Do you like working remotely?
I appreciate it. My company sent me a laptop, a keyboard, a mouse, and two monitors. I’m here every day with my children. I have two little ones at home, a five-year-old and a two-year-old, and two more at school, a ten-year-old and a twelve-year-old. It’s just awesome to still be in the comfort of home while working for my company.
You said you’ve been working with this company for six weeks now. Was it difficult to start a new position having children, especially when switching to something different?
That might be the hardest thing for me. When I finished my Careerist training, I didn’t have a job. So I knew that my responsibilities wouldn’t be met if I had any kind of fear. I needed a paid position to cushion myself financially while looking for a tech sales job, so I took two different jobs after my training that had nothing to do with tech sales. I was a strategies sales specialist and then a recruiting consultant. My current role was the first position I took as a sales engineer or solutions engineer after finishing my Careerist training in June of 2021.
How did you find those positions?
I believe that I talked to my career coach, and she was sending emails every day. However, all of my interviews and the job I have now were a result of applying on LinkedIn and other job boards myself.
Let’s talk about when you interviewed for your current position. What went right? What were some of the questions they asked?
They wanted to know what I knew about tech sales. I was the first person they interviewed that acquired a sales engineering certification. A lot of people ended up in that position through other means. They were excited to hear about my experience in tech sales and my experience with the tech sales training. They also wanted to know about my ability to present. I think it was a very, very low-stress interview. It seemed as if they just wanted to get to know me, and that was a great experience.
Speaking about qualifications, what do you think are the most important soft skills for a tech salesperson?
The most important skill, I would say, is the ability to learn. Because being in tech sales means you will constantly be learning. Software constantly changes. It is like the medical field where everything is constantly evolving, so your ability to adapt and learn will be your strength.
What about communication skills? Can you be an introverted person, or is this job better for an extrovert like you?
I have spoken to a person who classified themselves as an introvert. They told me they didn’t mind working in tech sales because they didn’t have to be that first point of contact. I’m not an introvert, but I have a brother who is an introvert, and I have a couple of colleagues that are introverts as well. From their perspectives, they are more comfortable with the tech sales position because they don’t have to be the people reaching out to create that connection. When a tech salesperson is talking to someone, it is because that person is already interested in the product. I think tech sales is such a great position because it works well for both introverts and extroverts.
You also had an internship at Careerist. How was your experience?
The best part of the internship was the constant career coaching that I received from Careerist instructors and trainers. They were always available to give me an insight into any question that I had. They told me so much about the process of learning software that I impressed everyone I spoke to. That was the most beneficial part of the internship—the constant access to the knowledge my instructors gave me.
Why did you decide to choose this particular direction for your studies and your future career?
I’m a writer. That’s my passion, my joy. I wanted to get a website to write an ebook and sell it online, but I could not afford an e-commerce website. I believe I was going to use Wix, and a friend of mine told me I could build my website. So I started to look at HTML and CSS, my first “hello world” moment, and I was hooked. I loved the fact that I could create art. That was the moment I discovered I had a passion for technology. My grandfather and my father were technical specialists, so I guess you could say that tech is in my blood.
When I got to the tech school, don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot. I just didn’t acquire certification. I said this is a very high-stress position for me, but it did convince me that I need to be in tech. When I found out about the tech sales role, where I could be dealing with technology all day without writing code, I jumped on the opportunity. That’s how I ended up here and I’m so grateful for that..
And what is the career atmosphere? How do you feel about being in this environment?
I might not be a good source because I still have all these butterflies being here. But it’s calm. There’s no internal competition, no rush for you to be an expert.
Some companies expect you to be an expert at whatever they do within the first three months. It may cause an unhealthy stress response since you can’t do your job without understanding the product. In tech sales, especially, I think they want to see who you are.
The atmosphere is very encouraging and helpful. Your presentation skills and how you talk to people—the way you articulate a certain topic—are things that will help you get the job and mold you into an awesome solutions engineer.
Finally, as a mother, how do you balance being effective and successful at your job while still having time and energy for your four children?
I have a village—that’s for sure. My mother moved here from Maryland. I needed her help to reduce childcare expenses for the smaller two. My husband helps a lot with the older two, and he helped take care of the house. My village is still a huge help when I get off to work. After getting off work, I also make sure to explain what I’m doing to my kids. I show them that my job is like school—I have to learn, and learning helps me provide us with a better life. I aim to help them change their mindset on learning (kids their age seem to hate school somehow) and show them that they can do anything in this world. I show them my work experience and what it is like for me to work. I have deep conversations with them and let them express themselves. That is how I keep this machine oiled in my household. We have family fun to keep us close and connect. Once work and school is over it’s all family time.
How do you divide your personal life and your professional life while working completely from home?
So there are occasional pop-ups, like meetings when my 3-year-old sticks her head in the conversation. But my company accepts that this just happens sometimes! They said it’s part of the modern working environment. I can take breaks during my workday and walk away from my computer to go upstairs and see my kids. Sometimes they sit on my lap, and I show them what mommy is doing. It may benefit them because kids never know what’s happening when a parent goes to work. The parent is simply gone. But in my case, they can see me actively working from home. I think that will help them become successful in the future because they understand how working looks. Time will tell for sure. I find it easy to separate my time and take advantage of working from home.
Thanks so much for sharing such an interesting story! Your flexible approach to managing your work/life balance is something that many people may find helpful. Wishing you smooth career growth!
*The questions and responses in this interview have been edited for clarity.