In my pursuit of my dream career, I've learned to embrace the things that make me uncomfortable and, at Leverege, that's what has enabled me to grow.
Upon reflection of my joyful days as the Editor-in-Chief of my high school yearbook, I decided to focus my studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Journalism with a minor in Entrepreneurship. I soaked up the history of advertising, learned how to craft compelling strategic campaigns, and practiced the art of communicating concisely with purpose.
Throughout these four years I felt constant pressure from peers and advisors to narrow my career focus to advertising agencies. While advertising agencies provided great opportunities, with every venture creation seminar I attended, I felt an entrepreneurial itch building.
When applying to full-time jobs post-graduation, I felt extremely lost trying to determine what industry excited me. With an overwhelming decision looming over my head, I shifted my focus to opportunities where I knew I would be uncomfortable. That may come off as strange, but my mantra has always been to choose the more uncomfortable option where you will be challenged to grow.
This has manifested into bold choices in my past including flying across the country with 2 weeks notice for a summer internship and studying abroad in a country where I didn’t know the language.
In both instances I took leaps and bounds over fences that otherwise, may have held me back from success.
Back to finding a job...I came with a long list of demands. I knew I wanted a challenging role with a lot of responsibility. I wanted an industry that I didn’t have experience in.
I wanted to try a variety of things to build my wheelhouse of skills—“wear many hats”, as they say.
I was also adamant about finding a culture with a supportive team that doesn’t do things by the book, but rather is motivated by driving impact.
A friend of mine mentioned a fellowship that he was a part of called “Venture For America” and my eyes widened to the world of startups. This was where you could get your hands dirty, look failure directly in the eyes, and dare to succeed.
After my first interview with Venture For America, I felt invigorated by the opportunity to join such a motivated group of self-starters that weren’t afraid of failure.
Now that I was a 2020 Venture For America Fellow, it was time to put in the work and find the right fit. I spent the months leading up to match calling as many older fellows as I could, picking their brains on their experiences and any wise words they could impart as I embarked on copious amounts of interviews. I began putting together a list of key takeaways from these calls—one quote from a fellow sticks with me to this very day:
“Make your pitch true to who you are and be honest with yourself.”
Self honesty helped me stay true to my wants and needs while navigating through asking the right questions and analyzing opportunities. This led me to the Digital Marketing Manager role at Leverege. An opportunity that offered everything I had wanted, yet in a place I would have never looked.
An offer to dive into an emerging startup in a growing industry. A role that would allow versatility and ownership. This was a place I would have never thought to look. I had no idea what IoT even stood for at the time. As you might imagine, there was a steep learning curve ahead.
Every single day is different and some weeks it feels like I am taking on a completely different job title. My favorite part about my job is that I have a hand in helping companies from all over the world market their brands, products, and life-changing IoT solutions.
The impact of these solutions are boundless from allowing employees to go back to work after a global pandemic with accurate contact tracing to helping children secure access to wireless internet on long commutes to school.
Since I joined the Leverege team, I’ve seen our initiatives pay off with one of the programs I manage tripling in size. Our team has grown immensely and I have learned a ton along the way.
I’ve embraced daily uncomfortability and continue to be amazed by our community of industry leaders. My advice to any future Venture For America fellows: choose the more uncomfortable option because you never know where that will take you.