Nearly ten years ago, I graduated from law school and had absolutely no idea where I was headed professionally. I had extensive education, but no clear direction because I had no passion for the law and few marketable skills. While working as a legal compliance officer for a tech start-up following my law school graduation (basically, the only job I could get which allowed me to make my student loan payments), I became interested in the internet. Working with programmers and entrepreneurs had piqued my curiosity: What is the internet all about? Could I learn how to make web pages? I wonder what I could build if I knew html? Note that I wasn’t wondering how I could make money or whether I could get any kind of technical job – this was purely curiosity about the technology itself and whether it was something I could be a part of.
Within three years, I had developed an online learning platform which, years later, would become a revenue generating business for my family. With each incremental improvement in my coding and web design ability, my confidence grew. I launched numerous monetized web services and used these successes as critical talking points in my job interviews as I worked toward solidifying myself as a tech professional in Silicon Valley. First, I worked as a Technical Writer at TiVo until I was promoted into a Program Manager role on the Customer Service team. You might not believe it, but I still wasn’t thinking about money- my only interest was in learning more, and more, and more. I wanted to understand, I wanted to improve, and I wanted to see what was around the next corner.
After nearly five years with TiVo, hundreds of hours of home study, many failures and a few successes with web businesses, I had learned enough to try to build my own software support operations team. An enterprise software company in San Francisco, Hearsay Social, took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to develop a support operations team. Still, I continued to build my skills by developing new apps, new web sites, and completing a computer science certification program and starting a technology graduate program on nights and weekends. I had never loved learning this much before; I had to know more, I had to find out what I was capable of, and I wanted to try and fail as much as possible to become better.
After one year at the start-up, I achieved my ultimate professional dream: I was hired as a Senior Product Support Manager at Google. Nearly three years later, I am managing a team in Google’s Consumer Operations organization and continuing to learn and grow as a tech industry professional. It is amazing to think about how it all came about- an insatiable curiosity about the web lead me on a journey of exploration which took me from disillusioned and bored law school graduate to a happy, engaged and passionate Operations Manager at Google.
Follow your curiosity!