My journey to a career in Customer Support
Growing up, there were many things that I wanted to be: an actor, a marine biologist, a stunt person, a tornado chaser, a ranch owner, a ranch owner who chases tornadoes on the side. As I made my way in the world, the list became a little more conservative, if no less ambitious: an educational psychologist, a paramedic, a lecturer in neuroscience. If you’d have asked me at any point up to my mid twenties ‘What do you want to be?’ Not once would I have replied ‘someone who works in customer support’.
And yet, I’d had customer service jobs all through my undergraduate and post-graduate careers: retail, entertainment, customer call centre — I’m only a little disappointed that I didn’t manage to get hospitality in there too! Even then, I still saw customer support as something that you only did while you were looking for a ‘real job’.
The ‘real job’ I found, was working as an Outreach Officer in a university: I was part of team that aimed to increase university participation in underrepresented groups. This meant everything from organising University masterclasses for teenagers, to arranging day trips to the uni for children in local authority care, to visiting schools to attempt to sell the benefits of higher education to classrooms full of restless children.
When people asked me if I liked my job, I’d always say: “Well, it’s good for now, but I don’t see myself making a career in it.” At first, I did enjoy the role, it was pretty varied and I liked how much I was able to listen to people and help them. More and more, I realised that although I could do this job, I wasn’t getting what I needed from it.
I wanted to be more creative, I wanted to do more problem solving, I wanted to work more closely with people, as opposed to just organising events for them. I tried finding ways to make my role more interesting, to apply creativity to the tasks that I had, to volunteer for the kind of projects that I could be more involved with, but ultimately, it still wasn’t what I needed. At that point, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wouldn’t find it at the university.
One of the roles I applied for at that time was an Account Manager in a software startup. The company was small, so the role was a mixture of sales and support. Although I had no sales experience, I had plenty of transferable skills and loved talking tech, so they gave me a shot.
As the company grew, it became clear that we needed to divide the role of Account Manager into two distinct teams: sales and support. You can guess which one I went for ;)
I now head up Customer Support and Success for our company and, for the first time, when I look at the path ahead of me, I can’t wait to hit the road.