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Career Month discussion: Have you made a career pivot? How did it go?

Kristen Roth
Community Manager
Community Managers are Atlassian Team members who specifically run and moderate Atlassian communities. Feel free to say hello!
March 16, 2023

It’s pretty common to spend years studying one thing in University only to land a job in an entirely different field once you’ve finished. It’s also becoming increasingly common for people to pivot and take their careers in a completely different direction after realizing they want to make a change several years in.

Is it easy to connect the dots between where you started in your career and where you are now? Or do you have a wild and meandering tale illustrating how you got from Point A to Point B (or Point C, D, E... 😜)? We were inspired after hearing pivot stories from some of our Community Leaders and would love to hear yours!

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Collista Lewingdon
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
March 16, 2023

I have done a few career pivots. 

I hold a Bachelor's of Science in both Criminology and Criminal Justice and interned as a Juvenile Probation Officer. But when I graduated I literally gave birth to my 3rd kid 10 days after graduation, so the decision was made to take and office job that would be a little less dramatic and would not necessitate being on call. So I started a job as a receptionist at a law firm.

Within months of starting that job I realized I was able to handle more than receptionist duties and began handling paralegal responsibilities. Went back to school and got a certificate in Paralegal Studies. Proceeded to work the next 8 years in law firms before striking out on my own with my own business providing paralegal services on an as needed basis.

When my business did not grow as quickly as I desired and I needed to make extra income (because I became a single mom of four kids) but did not want to lose out on time with my kids, I bit the bullet and took a job at my kids school.

I starting working as a lunchroom monitor, then became the receptionist, then the principal's assistant and ultimately their registrar. The whole time attending every single training and certification course I could for the Student Information System that we used. After working in education for three years at a charter school I took a leap of faith and applied for a tech support position with the district supporting charter schools using that same system I had taken every available training for. I got that job, despite missing the tech degree.

Shortly after I started there my team began using Jira to manage some projects and I volunteered to be the "champion" who would learn everything about it and share back to my teammates. While learning about the system I discovered that there were some limitations to its capabilities and made a request to get an add-on that would help my team out. The answer I received back was "Not Interested." I responded to that email with a huge long email about why the add-on would be beneficial, why I needed the add on, why my team needed and why the add-on would be beneficial to all users in our department. I was asked to do a presentation to the person who was managing the software at that time, and his department manager. So I did. And not only did I get my add-on, I received an email from the department head the next day letting me know that there was an administrative position for that product and she encouraged me to apply. 

I thought it was a crazy idea. I had only been in my role for three months, my oldest kid had just been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and my whole life seemed out of control and again, they were asking for a degree I did not have. But.....I applied. I interviewed. And I got the job. So here I sit in a position that not only accommodated my having to be a full-time caregiver to my child by allowing me to work anywhere his treatment took us, I ended up in the least stressful job I have every had. 

I am quickly mastering the system and am picking up on other tech skills by doing trainings through PluralSight. My department head has also approved my certifications as a Jira Admin and Confluence Admin. 

So my career path looked something like this ===>Criminal Justice===>>Legal===> Education ===> Tech support===> Product Management

All in the course of 13 years. 

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Kristen Roth
Community Manager
Community Managers are Atlassian Team members who specifically run and moderate Atlassian communities. Feel free to say hello!
March 16, 2023

You are incredible, Collista! What an inspiring story. I'm so happy to hear that all of your hard work and perseverance paid off (and brought you here!). Thank you for sharing!  

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Summer_Hogan
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
March 20, 2023

This is an incredible story Collista! WOW! You have been on a trip for sure! I'm glad you are happy where you are now! Thanks for sharing your story! 

Dave Mathijs
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
March 16, 2023

Looking forward to reading about your career pivots ...

Pivot.jpeg

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Kristen Roth
Community Manager
Community Managers are Atlassian Team members who specifically run and moderate Atlassian communities. Feel free to say hello!
March 16, 2023

I'm dying, Dave! 😂

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Andy Gladstone
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
March 17, 2023

Following the dots…

High School -> Applied to Universities with good Journalism Schools -> Didn’t get enough scholarship to my school of choice -> Gap year in Israel turned into two years (if this were a whiteboard I’d have a full tangential line here) -> Accounting Major -> Computer Science Degree -> Operations Management -> Purchasing and Inventory Management -> Technical Services Management -> Global Technical Services Management -> COO

In every arrow there is so much nuance. But there is no way I am where I am today without each step of the journey. 

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Kristen Roth
Community Manager
Community Managers are Atlassian Team members who specifically run and moderate Atlassian communities. Feel free to say hello!
March 17, 2023

So many twists and turns and pivots here, Andy! Thank you for sharing your journey!

I often think about your last sentence — so many parts of our lives can be seemingly unrelated from an outsider's POV, but the threads that bring everything together are usually pretty interesting! 

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Summer_Hogan
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
March 20, 2023

That's quite a journey you have been on @Andy Gladstone! I'm glad life took you where it did! You said it right that each step of the journey has influenced us in powerful ways! I feel the same way about my career and I'm shocked I have made it this far! 

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Amanda Barber
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
March 20, 2023

If I rewind all the way to High School....I loved programming and technology, but didn't think I had the math skills to pursue a degree in computer science. Sadly, I think the fact that I'm female had a part in that mindset. I went to college for Business (Accounting) for 2 years and took a semester off to earn a little money before going back. During that time, I volunteered with a literacy interventionist at a local school. When I went back to school, I changed majors to Early Childhood Elementary. I then taught Kindergarten/First Grade for 12 years and then pivoted 3 years ago to the educational technology space.

About 5 years ago, I met with a colleague of my husband's who was a product manager at the time. We had a great lunch where I got to pick her brain about how my skills could potentially translate to a new gig. She gave me some advice that I noodled on for a bit. In the end of my teaching career, I just had decided to make the leap and see where I landed - I figured that by getting into most companies, I could find opportunities to try on a variety of hats.

I started in ed tech at a startup and wore all kinds of hats - which was perfect to get my bearings and find what I enjoyed. At my current job, I'm in a similar position - small companies = lots of hats for many people. I love the variety of my days/weeks, as well as all the new learnings I have weekly as I try to learn as I go! Similar to teaching, my role/tools/teams are constantly changing and evolving, so it's a great position to have continuous growth. Project management planning also feels a lot like creating lesson plans - they were always the foundation and big ideas, but adapted as we went!

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Kristen Roth
Community Manager
Community Managers are Atlassian Team members who specifically run and moderate Atlassian communities. Feel free to say hello!
March 24, 2023

Loved hearing about your path, Amanda! Sounds like your current job really keeps you on your toes! What a great learning experience. 

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Amanda Barber
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
March 24, 2023

Definitely keeps me on my toes! I like the push to keep learning and growing that comes naturally from this type of role. 😊

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Summer_Hogan
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
March 20, 2023

I have made numerous pivots in my career; from supply chain analyst --> QA Analyst --> Business Analyst --> Lead Business Analyst leading a team --> Product Owner and now to Product Manager. Some of these are logical progressions in career and some are straight up pivots. You can read more about my story here: https://community.atlassian.com/t5/Jobs-Careers-articles/Community-members-share-how-they-pivoted-their-careers/ba-p/2297573. Thanks @Saralie S. for highlighting me in your article.  

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Kristen Roth
Community Manager
Community Managers are Atlassian Team members who specifically run and moderate Atlassian communities. Feel free to say hello!
March 24, 2023

Thanks for sharing your story, Summer!

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