One Small Step for Jess’s Career, One Giant Leap for Jess.

The year was 2010 and the HTC EVO had just launched. I had been working for about 3 years in various tech companies (Circuit City, Best Buy, Sprint) and I was finally able to articulate what it was I wanted to do in my life. Standing in the stockroom on the launch day, I declared, “I want to work at the intersection of tech and business, and I am going to get some company somewhere to pay me to do it.” I wanted to be the person who was responsible for choosing what went in the phone, what software was running and what carrier it would work on. I truly didn’t think a job like that existed in one role. I assumed that it just happened to come together by some kind of magic voodoo.

Fast-forward to 2013, I was starting classes at RefactorU, a full stack code school in Boulder. While on the phone with my friend Charlie, I explained my motives for learning to code. I wanted to supplement the area of technology I was lacking experience in — the actual building of technology. I explained I had been working with startups to learn the business side of things and I reiterated the declaration I made in response was, “Oh great! You want to be a Product Manager.” (You know the M&M commercial where Santa sees the M&Ms and says, stupefied“They do exist!”? Yeah. That was me.)

Since then, I have worked to get that role. Mentally, it was a much easier mountain to climb once I knew those positions were out there instead of assuming I would have to convince someone to make it a job AND pay me for it. I had no clue how to get there, even though I have always worked jobs I felt would provide me the skills I would need to get to where I wanted to go. The path was never a linear one, and I am not sure I would have gotten there if it had been. I just reached for things I would find valuable, what the market found valuable and things that would allow me to grow and make me happy. I have worked very hard to try to be the perfect candidate for the job I want. I was lucky enough to get some product management training under my belt at my last job, but I really wanted to go big or go home on the next one.

I left my last job in September, and I probably don’t have to tell you the struggle that is the job market. I had some people ask why I wouldn’t just take a job as a developer or as technical support on various platforms. But I realized while interviewing for those positions that my heart wasn’t in it to “just doing any job”. I believe in being ‘all in’ when it comes to my career and I couldn’t do that as a developer. So, if this was going to be my next major move, it needed to be the move I wanted and needed. This was the time to double down on what I had done in my past and really leverage my skills. The joke that ‘to get a job as a PM,you need to be a PM’ is all too true and not terribly helpful. I struggled for several months to find a company to call home. I turned down one job that wanted someone to do PM work but wouldn’t add Product to the title. Turning down a job is hard to do when you are starting to get nervous about finances, and you know that the job would give you experience, but not the kind you wanted. I needed to wrap together my years of experience in a way that would lead to the role I wanted, with the title I wanted.

I am very proud to say that this week I found a great company to call home. I’ve accepted a job, not only as a Product Manager but as a Technical Product Manager with Townsquare Media. All those small moments where I deviated from a traditional career path have led me to the exact place I want to be. I believe in architecting your goals to make your dreams come true. While it wasn’t easy, and I did jobs to get by that were not my first choice, I did them as a means to an end while I waited for the right role with the right title. And what a glorious end to a six year goal:I found the job I wanted, and convinced a company in NYC to pay me to do it.