Breaking Tradition: Finding Belonging at Thumbtack

Seth Lowman
Jun 4 · 6 min read

Jumping into a new industry can be scary. Thankfully, Thumbtack supports those who are new to tech, no matter their background. As a current Thumbtack employee, I was able to sit down with a few members of the Thumbtack family to share their journey to tech, as well as my own.

Want to hear a joke?

A former restaurant owner, a counselor, and an aspiring TV writer walk into a tech company. Despite their non-technical backgrounds, they aspired to make a positive impact. The punchline to this joke? They did.

As the tech industry continues to expand, so does the pool of potential candidates. And as this “tech pool” grows deeper, folks from non-traditional work backgrounds have grown eager to swim.

Having worked in retail for close to five years, I consider myself to come from one of these non-traditional backgrounds. Before breaking into tech, I never imagined how I could fit into the “techie” culture. “How does one apply their shirt-folding expertise into something useful in tech?”, I wondered. I could already feel the imposter syndrome to settle in.

This self-deprecation of skills isn’t uncommon among those who step into a tech role for the first time. “I was really worried about coming from an environment where I could be in on conversations to one where I couldn’t”, says Philippa Adams, a Brand Writer on Thumbtack’s Brand Marketing team.

Philippa, who joined Thumbtack 3 years ago, came to Thumbtack with zero tech experience. After working in the entertainment industry for 2 years, she decided to make the move to the Bay Area with her husband. Upon moving to the Bay, she began looking into open office management roles and came across an Office Coordinator position on Thumbtack’s career page.

Like myself, Philippa experienced worries about fitting in at Thumbtack. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to find a place for myself in the tech world. I had wanted to be a TV writer, a creative person, my whole life.”

Despite her worries, Philippa was able to flex her creativity when she was given the opportunity to join the Brand Marketing team. After working as an office coordinator for 2 years, she landed a spot as a brand writer. Once worried about not being in on conversations, she was now making them through her words.

Philippa mentions that mentorship has played a significant role in her success, “I had been mentored by Lindsey Carreon (Copywriting Manager at Thumbtack), who is now also on my team. She’s a writer now, but came from an account manager background first and then transitioned to copywriting, so she understood what I was going through.”

Philippa, like many others who have come to Thumbtack, has found the mentorship program to be very impactful throughout her career. The program matches two employees together, in hopes that the more tenured employee will provide professional guidance for the newer employee.

The mission of the mentorship program is “to support and empower Thumbtack employees so they can realize their full career potential and development”.

For Recruiting Coordinator Manager, Zachary Spier, finding a company that matched his core beliefs was an initial prerequisite to joining a tech company. Before joining Thumbtack, Zachary had experience working in the non-profit sector, specifically working in foundations that promote trans and queer students and as a counselor.

“A huge part of my reservation, and even applying to a lot of these roles, was that I would be working in a for-profit setting for the first time”, Zachary says. “I was feeling like maybe my values aren’t going to align with these people or with the business, and maybe that would be really draining for me.”

Fortunately for Zachary, his reservations diminished during his interview at Thumbtack. He immediately clicked with his team, who shared a mutual commitment to diversity efforts.

Shortly after he was hired, Zachary took a leadership role with Proudtacks, a company-wide ERG (Employee Resource Group), created for Thumbtack employees who identify within the LBGTQ+ community. It was through Zachary’s work in Proudtacks, that he fulfilled his passion in community building, and through the group, he has found a family at Thumbtack.

Noelle Blue, Thumbtack’s Culinary Service and Facilities Manager, also knows a thing or two about working with family. Noelle, who joined Thumbtack after teaching in a culinary program at Laney College, was hesitant to leave a teaching career she loved behind. But as she began looking for the next steps into her career, she found Thumbtack.

“The first thing I saw of Thumbtack was the job description, and that’s what attracted me. It was exactly, word for word, play-by-play what I wanted to do!”

Now Noelle, along with Thumbtack’s amazing culinary staff, works Monday through Friday ensuring employees are well-fed throughout the week and having a blast while doing so.

Beaming, Noelle adds that her team, “laughs, plays and jokes together. We developed a whole new language. A whole new way of being professional in an office setting that is still very much playful, fun and supportive.”

As I listened to Noelle describing her team dynamic, I was reminded of previous teams that I’ve worked with. At my last job, my co-workers always provided me with a sense of belonging. I was surrounded by folks who made me feel at home, much like a family.

When I decided to move into tech, I was worried I would lose this sense of kinship. I didn’t think this was a possible feeling to replicate or replace. Despite this nagging doubt, I continued my search for a new job and a new team.

During my job search, my partner sent along a job posting for an open Recruiting Coordinator role at Thumbtack. And despite doubts that my lack of experience would block me from getting hired (or even making it out of the interview process alive), I applied anyway. I’m glad I did.

Quickly after submitting my application, I spoke with a recruiter and was invited onsite for an interview. I was prepared to be met with cold, elitist types that would scoff at my lack of experience.

“Who does this person from retail, think they are? Coming into our office with zero experience” I thought they would think.

But what I experienced was the opposite. The team I met was warm, approachable and it felt like they were truly interested. After my interview, I was interested too.

I eventually landed a temp role as a Recruiting Coordinator at Thumbtack, and despite not being full-time, I thought my 6-month temp-role would be a great introduction into tech that could lead to future opportunities. Just having the opportunity to join a company with a great mission and amazing product was a dream come true.

I never anticipated converting to a full-time employee, but exactly one month after my temp-role started, the day came. I couldn’t believe the news — I was finally in. And for good.

Nine months later, I’m still here at Thumbtack. Every day, I have the privilege to work with an amazing team, to be an impactful partner in the recruiting process, and interact with some incredibly intelligent folks. Some who have prior tech experience and some who do not.

Speaking with these members who come from a variety of different backgrounds, I came to the realization there is room for everybody in tech.

We all come from different homes but have come together under one roof. To write, to solve, to create, to lead. To work together as a family.

And that’s no joke.

Life @ Thumbtack

We empower our employees to do life’s work with joy and purpose. Read more about the work we're doing, and how we're doing it!

Thanks to Thumbtack People Team

Seth Lowman

Written by

Life @ Thumbtack

We empower our employees to do life’s work with joy and purpose. Read more about the work we're doing, and how we're doing it!

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