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Customer success manager: My educational choices

Nick talks about changing majors and transferring colleges on his path to find the right career fit.

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Video transcript

I was pretty nerdy in high school, I think it's safe to say. I was always playing Dungeons and Dragons and stuff like that and video games. But I knew that I wanted to do something involved in tech but I wasn't sure what. So I started off as a computer science major. I was a computer science major for four days. (laughs) I went to the Rochester Institute of Technology which is a great tech school, great computer science school, had lots of different options and programs which are really cool, but I realized that I did not want to spend my days staring at a computer screen. I really like working with people too much for that. And my main focus, I want to be with people. But also I knew that I wanted a little something with computers and technology because that had always been something that really interested me. I stayed at RIT for one semester. For the rest of the semester, I focused more on liberal arts so that I could kind of try to understand what I wanted to do. But then I realized I do not need to pay this much money for a tech school where I'm focusing on liberal arts. What am I doing? So since I realized that I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do next, I took a little bit of time off. And during this time I realized that I'd incurred a little bit of debt already from college. So I got a job in order to help pay that off. And from there, I essentially worked and went to school throughout the rest of my college years. Sometimes going to school part time and focusing a little more on the work, and sometimes working almost, you know, just two days a week or something like that. Whatever I could afford when my coursework got really heavy. And I wound up going to Monroe Community College. Thank goodness for the community colleges. They're amazing. And figuring out there I had some really great mentors and discovered that I had really strong focuses that I loved in communication and sociology. And then after college, I was actually offered a full time position at the retail store that I'd been working at kind of throughout my years in college. So, I wound up taking that position. I was working at Abercrombie and Fitch for a little while. That was a good experience. It taught me a lot about how to manage people, about how to manage expectations with customers, about answering to yourself and having your own kind of things that you have to get done in a day, and then getting done with them actually. Being accountable. So that was really valuable. But after I was there for about another year, I decided I would rather pursue other opportunities and from there I wound up applying to user testing. Community college was a great experience for me. It was an opportunity for me to explore different fields of interest without incurring a huge sum of debt at the same time because private school options were seriously just going to be draining my money at that point and I didn't know what I wanted to do in such a way that I could really focus all of my time and energy into it. So that gave me that kind of flexibility in order to discover stuff that I was interested in. Yeah, there are a few things that I think I would do differently. I definitely at one point I was meeting with a, like, some academic counselor and they had told me that the prerequisites for the major that I was in had changed and so I would actually need an additional semester and I thought that I was going to be eligible to graduate at the end of that semester. I was very upset. I actually took the next semester off because I was so upset and I said, "I'm just going to focus on earning money right now." I probably wouldn't do that going back. You know, just get it done. I would get it done a little faster next time. But it was also good experience to kind of go out and have real working experience. That was good. Other mistakes that I made? I don't know. I think overall it was a pretty good experience. I would think more seriously about what I want to do longer term earlier on because that's something that I hadn't given a ton of thought to. I just figured I like computers. I like tech. I'm going to take computer science. So that was an expensive mistake, I suppose. Two people who I really consider mentors out there, shout out to Todd Sedano. You rock. Shout out to Natasha Chen. You also rock. These are professors of mine who I've had at different schools that I've been to who both taught me a lot about analyzing what it is that I want to be doing. And about putting in work in order to actually get pay off after the fact. They taught me a lot about that. And they taught me about what it means to kind of go get what I want. They both highly encouraged me to apply to something that was outside of the city that I lived in. So mentorship I think is a super important thing for anyone. If at all possible, find someone who you respect, who you find it's relatively easy to talk to, who is interesting to you, and ask them if they'll grab coffee with you. Ask them if you can come in on their office hours if they're a professor. Go spend time with those people if they're a little older and know a little more. Ask them about how they came to where they're at and see if there's anyone in their network who they would connect you with because it's a really important thing. Honestly, who you know is a huge part of getting any job. And you know people. Even if you don't think you know people, you know someones who knows someone. So, you know, ask around and go looking for stuff. Even if you don't know someone who's at a company, still apply and see if you can get a recommendation from one of your mentors. Because maybe they are well known within the community or something like that.