Why I chose tech sales over investment banking

January 26 2017

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working in the office

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my frenzied winter break job application spree. It was frenzied because, as a history major who figured out she wanted to work in tech, I was clueless as to what jobs existed for non-engineers. Ultimately, I ended up applying to nearly 70 jobs and setting up chats with 20+ people in the industry–friends of friends, my academic advisor’s daughter, the guy I adopted my pet cockatiel from, literally anyone who would talk to me. It was not the most strategic method, but it succeeded; I’m at work right now, at MuleSoft, one of the very companies I applied to last year. Recently, my boss asked me how I found out about MuleSoft, and he laughed at the story–I Googled “medium sized tech companies in San Francisco” and found the job posting in a listicle that also included photos of hip office spaces with plants and exposed brick.

The panic I felt last December was borne from the realization that I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. From kindergarten onwards, my path was pretty clear: go from one grade to the next, do the best you can, and eventually attend college. Much of my life was focused on getting into college, and very little had been focused on what happens after I got out. My alma mater, Yale, absolutely equipped me with the skills to be an excellent member of the working world; I had learned how to think, how to write, how to read 800 pages in one week and distill good points to bring up in discussion with peers and professors. But I did not know much about the business world or how I wanted to meaningfully participate in it.

The Yale Office of Career Strategy is meant to guide students, and they do offer a myriad of services from resume editing to drop-in office hours. While they did offer clear paths into finance and consulting, for people looking to work at smaller companies, or in other industries like tech, options were limited. Banks and consulting firms would provide on-campus info sessions, coffee chats, and even interviews. It is so easy to enter these kinds of roles, it did not come as a surprise to me that Goldman Sachs is the company in my Linkedin network with the most Yale alumni. That is why I interned in finance the summer before my senior year–the pressure, real and imagined, from my peers and alumni network. While I loved my team, my heart wasn’t in the job. And if I’m really being frank, I still can’t remember what a V-LOOKUP does in Excel, and that was a problem. Consulting seemed interesting, but the more I learned about it, the more I realized while analytical problem solving was appealing, I also wanted to see my labor come to fruition instead of jetting off to solve another company’s problems. Obviously, other jobs existed, I was just not sure what they were and how to find them. Unsurprisingly, I am not alone in having experienced a career-related quarter-life crisis while in school. A new Gallup Purdue Index found that only half of students visit their career offices and only 16% of graduates found career services very helpful.

In an effort to find other industries and companies, I crashed a tech fair for engineers. I didn’t get any interviews out of it but did receive several canvas totes and a free Oracle selfie stick—it was one of the high-quality ones with a button that took the photo if you were wondering. You probably weren’t. Sadly, it was a bust career-wise, but I did get some amazing group photos from that selfie stick. It did, however, lead me to a period of research about other jobs at tech companies. It seems so obvious now, but at the time I had never thought that a technology company hired new grads besides engineers. Additionally, I discovered that if I worked in tech, I could have the opportunity to learn about a multitude of industries and job functions–the same reason why many new grads, myself included, lean towards finance and consulting right out of school. And it was exactly what I had wanted from my first job: to learn about the business world. This realization about tech and the subsequent conversations I had with various people in the industry is what led to me to that auspicious Google search: “medium sized tech companies in San Francisco.”

I now am in Account Development at MuleSoft. Not only do I get to experience the aspects of industry research and hands-on business transformation that I originally wanted when I was considering finance and consulting, but I also feel like the work I do matters. In fact, it’s more than a feeling: I can literally see the revenue I generate every day when I check Salesforce. I’ve been here for four months, and I’ve gotten to talked to Directors/VP/CIOs in so many industries about what keeps them up at night. I then get to be involved in the process of helping these real life adults [i.e. incredibly powerful and influential people] make real life decisions about their business. Please don’t tell them I trip getting on the bus at least three times a week, and if anyone knows what percentage of my income I should be putting in my 401(k), PLEASE let me know.

Look, my point is that there’s got to be a better way to let people know that tech companies need people who aren’t engineers. Young people want fulfilling jobs out of school that continues to educate them. I would not say I have a solution to this mismatch, but for now, I’d be happy to chat about this topic and positions at MuleSoft—please email [email protected] for more information so I can espouse more cool reasons to work here: smart people, a dazzling array of snacks, healthcare, exposed brick walls, free cold pressed juice, seriously, email me to know more!


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One Response to “Why I chose tech sales over investment banking”

  1. Interesting blog post Kelly. Having worked in tech in both Engineering and Sales positions You are right that tech companies are a great place to work as a non-engineer but enjoy solving business problems for customers. It sometimes helps to have a technical or analytical mind however 🙂