You're smarter than you thinkFeatured
Ever since landing my Job as Program Manager for Women@HubSpot, I get the question, “how did you get your job?” from almost everyone I meet. I can’t blame them, a Program Manager running women’s advancement and leadership initiatives at a global tech company is not necessarily a “mainstream” job. This question is normally followed by, “did you do this work at your previous job?” and my answer is always no. Prior to working at HubSpot, I had never done women’s programming in an official capacity. After graduating from college, I started my career in e-commerce retail, first as a furniture Buyer for Wayfair and then as a Merchandising Manager for The Grommet. To say I made a massive career pivot is an understatement and I was terrified. I had worked so hard to climb the ladder, get promoted, becoming a people manager, that I was nervous to let go of all that I had worked for in order to follow my passion. Making the leap to HubSpot has been the best move of my career, and while it was scary, and not every one supported my decision, I listened to my gut, followed my heart, and knew that I was ready for a new challenge that would push me and truly allow me to impact people's experiences at work, every single day. I’ve learned a lot since pivoting careers and have three pieces of advice for those looking to make a change, weary about taking the risk for fear of what’s on the other side.Trust in your skills, you’re smarter than you know.When the opportunity came up to change industries and run programming for HubSpot’s global Women’s initiative, I knew this was the job I’d always dreamed of, but never knew existed. The rush of excitement was quickly followed by fear. What if I don’t get the role? I don’t know anything about running a program, how would I even start? Would the learning curve be too steep? What if I fail? While I had no formal experience in program management or women’s leadership, I was active outside of work in groups and event platforms curated for women like She Geeks Out, General Assembly, and Levo League. I was also constantly reading, following content like Tiffany Dufu’s Tiffany’s Epiphanies, Sophia Amoruso’s GirlBoss and many more. I knew my knowledge, advocacy and passion for the advancement of women in the workplace would shine through but would it be enough to land the job? I learned quickly that it’s not always about having previous experience that mirrors the role you're applying for. Sometimes it requires a creative mind, some hustle outside of your day job, and passion to push you over the finish line. Don’t discredit the skills you have, your unique blend of experiences might be exactly what your next employer is looking for. Don’t let doubt crush your dreamsI’m certain that if I had listened to those who doubted my idea to change paths, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today. I got plenty of encouragement, both personally and professionally, but it was always overshadowed by the perception of the career jump being a “step backwards” or “a role not highly valued in organizations.” I even got feedback that, “I would never be able to effect real change at my level.” While there were definitely moments of panic and fear of change, I wanted so badly to prove them wrong that I was able to turn all of the doubt into super fuel for the start of my new career. I was able to dive in head first with a little extra push from those who thought this new path might never work out. I encourage you to focus on your journey and not what other people think. Lead with confidence and remember that no matter the outcome, each new experience will teach you something, allow you to grow, and help guide you to the next step in your career. There will always be people who doubt you, but don’t let that deter you from doing your best work and giving your new opportunity everything you have to offer.It’s not about the pivot, it’s about the impactSince my career move from e-commerce to People Operations, I have learned that it’s not about how you get to where you want to go, it's about what you do once you’re there. My move to HubSpot allowed me to think about the big picture of my career and where I wanted to go long term. I was less worried about the ladder I needed to climb and more excited about the opportunity to leap around the jungle gym, learn new skills, and generate impact along the way. I am grateful to work at a company that values autonomy because I feel empowered to make decisions, take risks, fail fast, learn, and grow. Was my career move a step back? Did I start from square one? To some people, maybe I did, but to me, my career pivot launched me into a whole new network of support, leadership opportunities, and professional growth that I didn’t know existed. I’ve had the opportunity to nurture skills I didn’t believe I had and push initiatives forward to generate impact for the business. My advice is to take the leap, find something you're passionate about, and go after it. Trust your skills: you’re smarter than you think and the impact you have on others can be greater than you ever imagined. Ashley Jeffress is the Program Manager for Women@HubSpot, where she executes innovative events and programming for the advancement of women in the workplace. She builds leadership initiatives that empower women by providing resources and development opportunities at every stage of career growth. She oversees this initiative for HubSpot’s nine global offices.