Life’s journey is never straightforward. Three years ago, I started my career as a paraeducator where my role revolved around assisting special needs classrooms and helping teachers administer the day’s lesson; counting, ABCs, arithmetic, writing— you name it. All these lessons built a more solid foundation for these children to be the well-rounded students of tomorrow. Their smiles and laughter were my fulfillment, but not everything was sunshine and rainbows. Life’s journey can take several unexpected turns.
The longer I spent in the classroom the more fulfilled I felt, but with an educator role heartbreak is part of the job. In one, singular year, I lost four students to tragic circumstances that left me and my colleagues devastated. The emotional toll this took on me was hard to bear. I had built personal relationships with each student and to think I would never get to see them again broke me. I knew from those incidents that this job, takes a certain kind of individual, and I realized that it wasn’t me. I couldn’t endure the chance of that kind of emotional distress for 25+ years.
Another factor that contributed to my decision to leave my role as an educator was the politics of the school. The children rarely, if at all, benefited from the politics at play within the school board. In my university days, professors always taught and even encouraged me to be an advocate for my students, bringing their wants and needs to the forefront of the discussions held by more senior educators and board members.
Unfortunately, I quickly realized that being a vocal advocate in this kind of setting was a great way to find yourself unemployed. This was a line that I was hesitant to walk down. I couldn’t in good conscience stand idle and watch how the school board ignored the needs of the students who depend on their actions to have a better school environment. It was clear that it was time for a change.
I knew I would miss my students, but it was time for me to branch out and discover new opportunities outside the realm of education. I began searching for a job, specifically a role that offered a work-from-home policy. Being able to work from home was a critical element of whatever career I pursued next. Not necessarily because I didn’t want to commute to a work site or office per se, but because I wanted more control over my work environment and how I would approach my every day.
Queue my best friend sending me a job opportunity at her company. She had been aware of my distress and my desire for a career change. Her company, an Atlanta-based tech startup called ReluTech, was in a growth stage and was hiring far and wide for talented personnel who could manage partner development. She told me they were in the hardware purchase and rental space with a need for a larger team. I was skeptical that I would be a good fit for the role; I remember relaying to my friend over the phone, “I am zero percent qualified for this position.” I couldn’t see myself making this big of a change from being a teacher to a tech salesperson.
My fears soon evaporated as my best friend assured me that I would quickly pick up things at ReluTech and learn on the job. She knew I was a rockstar and wanted everyone else at the company to see what I could do. I obliged her and started my application with little expectation of success. By the time I submitted it, I felt like a had a great chance at landing the role. I was excited for the future and full of hope for what I thought would be an amazing opportunity. Fast forward to today and it’s been a little over 30 days at ReluTech. I am happy to say that my predictions were correct.
The first thing I learned was that even though I absolutely had no background in technology or STEM, I was in a great position to learn everything I needed to be successful. Being a teacher made me a lifelong learner, which prepared me well for the avalanche of information I needed to absorb. I was already used to teaching myself lesson plans, creating meaningful content meant to educate and inspire, and then spending all day relaying that same information to students. Now, ironically, I do similar work in this sales role. I teach customers and prospects about the importance of moving workloads off-prem and into the cloud, and how ReluTech can make that journey more cost-effective. Different content, different audiences, but the same idea: educate to inspire action.
My experience teaching gave me the necessary soft skills I need to be an effective ReluTech employee. Presenting lessons in front of students refined my public speaking skills which would later be critical to my success as a partner development representative. Conveying the ReluTech message the right way is also a part of the relationship-building aspect of the job. Building genuine customer relationships is like building trust between teacher and student, so taking on that objective felt familiar. It’s funny how my experiences in teaching and sales have parallels with each other.
Not only do I draw from my public speaking experience in my new role at ReluTech, but I also use my organizational experience. Keeping track of curriculum calendars, paperwork, grade books, and all the rest that comes with keeping a classroom moving prepared me for the fast-paced learning environment that ReluTech offers. Admittedly, it was a lot of information upfront, but nothing I couldn’t manage. I took thorough notes and reviewed the content available to me. I then broke the information down into parts and consumed the knowledge at a pace that made sense to me. By the end of the knowledge dump, I felt like I had everything I needed to be successful and take on upcoming company objectives.
Looking back on where I was a month or so ago, I was in a state of confusion. I didn’t know where my future career was, but I knew what I didn’t want. Without my best friend showing me the opportunities at ReluTech, I might have missed out on my next career. I wouldn’t know how awesome the technology industry is and I wouldn’t know that I could work in it.
I am grateful to have friends who care about my professional development, and I am appreciative of my teaching experience — without them I wouldn’t have come down this path and life would be quite different. ReluTech is a great company for anyone that wants an opportunity to break into the technology industry; all it takes is the ability to learn and the desire to bring your best every day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | EMALLIE FINCH
Emallie Finch is a Partner Development Manager here at ReluTech. Her top priority is to help AWS accelerate and fund their customers’ migrations through our IT Divest offerings. Outside of the office, she enjoys reading romance novels, playing cards with her friends, and spending time outside with her 3 dogs and husband.
Get in touch with Emallie: firstname.lastname@example.org