5 Tips for Taking Ownership of Your Career in the New Year

By | Culture, Free Career Advice, Grow Your Career, Healthy Stuff, Professional Development | No Comments

It’s a new year, which means many people are making resolutions and goals in both their personal and professional lives. One thing that has been on my mind lately is taking the reins on my career. I’m fortunate to work for a company whose mission includes providing rewarding careers to team members. In the long run, though, my career growth is up to me. I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have about the companies they work for is that it’s the company’s responsibility to look after their career. But that’s just not true. Sure, a company can provide great growth opportunities, but ultimately it is the team member who has to work at their own career goals and steer their career toward those growth opportunities.

So, how do you take ownership of your career? Here are five ways to start.

#1: Step out of your comfort zone.
One of our CEO’s favorite sayings is “Get comfortable being uncomfortable,” and this is certainly applicable to your career goals. I would not be in my current role if I hadn’t been willing to take a few risks and explore the unfamiliar. My background is in teaching, training, and writing. Though I was able to carry all of this knowledge over into my role as Talent Marketing Manager, I didn’t come from a marketing background. In truth, I did feel a little uncomfortable during the first few months in this role. This discomfort only encouraged me to work harder and has truly benefited me in the long run, allowing me to develop skills and ideas I didn’t think were possible for me.

#2: Speak up.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, if something is bothering you, if you have a differing viewpoint or opinion… speak up. I’m going to be honest – this is something I am still working on. It’s probably something I will continue to work on throughout my career. My team lead often reminds me that she doesn’t know how I feel unless I tell her. Earlier in my career, at a different company, I never felt empowered to voice my opinion, and this has carried over into present day. Fortunately, Daxko is huge on transparency, and team members are encouraged to speak up. I have gained more confidence in expressing my thoughts and even saying “no”. If you’re uncomfortable speaking up in person, try writing it out first. It’s okay to practice what you’re going to say before you actually say it. Of course, sometimes “on the spot” can’t be helped; if you’re in a meeting and you want to express a differing opinion, do it thoughtfully, respectfully, and don’t let someone speak over you until you have finished your thought.

#3: Have a long-term goal, and learn skills to help you achieve it.
During my early years at Daxko, I quickly realized that although I enjoyed the training aspect of my job, my ultimate goal was to work on Daxko’s marketing team. When I was a trainer, I sat close to the marketing team and was privy to some of their brainstorms and discussions, and that’s when it clicked: that was the team I wanted to be on. In addition to an Education degree, I have an English degree with a concentration in rhetoric. I was putting my Education degree to use as a trainer, but I have always loved writing and creative processes more than teaching. I recognized that I would be able to put my expertise in persuasive writing to use as a part of the marketing team. Once I had this goal in mind, I began to get to know members of the marketing team and schedule meetings to learn skills from them, such as Pardot and WordPress. These tools helped me in my role as a trainer (I was in charge of the Services monthly newsletter), but the knowledge also gave me an edge when I was interviewing for my marketing role.

#4: Never stop learning.
At Daxko, all team members receive an annual professional development budget to use on courses, books, conferences, or activities that will help us get better at our jobs or learn new skills. In past roles and my current role, I have used part of my professional development money on certification courses to learn more about my field and develop my skillset. Learning shouldn’t stop when you graduate from college. On the contrary, most of the knowledge I have gained through professional development has been more valuable to my career than my college classes. If you work at a company that does not provide a professional development budget, you can still develop your skillset. There are plenty of free or affordable online courses through sites like ALISON, Lynda, and Coursera, just to name a few. Read blogs that pertain to your field. Find thought leaders to follow on Twitter. And ultimately, you won’t know what costs your company might be willing to help cover unless you ask, so keep #2 in mind, speak up, and discuss professional development with your manager.

#5: Find a mentor.
I didn’t have a career mentor until last year. Don’t get me wrong – I have had plenty of mentors in the past who have helped guide and shape me into the person I am today. Last year, though, I sought out a mentor in my field who I could trust not only for career advice, but for professional advice in general. Because I am still fairly young in my career, there have been many situations I have encountered in the workplace that are new to me. That’s why it’s great to have a mentor who is more experienced and who has faced these same situations in the past. When you’re seeking a mentor, I suggest someone in your field (or the field you want to move into) and someone easy to talk to. Many of the conversations I have with my mentor are about our personal lives, and I really value the fact that my mentor has gotten to know me and truly cares about me. I suggest meeting in person once every couple of months (or monthly, if you can swing it) to catch up, and of course, email, call, or text your mentor whenever you need advice.

Remember, your career and development are in your hands. As you think about how to grow in 2017, keep these tips in mind. Have a vision, and make this the year you take strides to achieve it!


Janna B. is Daxko’s Talent Marketing Manager who is slowly becoming a morning person and wishes she lived in the 1960s/70s.

Are you ready to make a career change in the new year? Check out our current opportunities.

A Recap of Kids Code-A-Thon

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This month TechBirmingham presented their Kids Code-A-Thon at Daxko! Over 60 local children attended, eager to team up and create an app that would positively affect Birmingham.

Let me start by saying this: I work in Services. I know very little about coding… but [spoiler alert] by the end of the day, I moved from the Hospitality Team to leading a team of brilliant kids with the coolest app in the building.

Trent and Adam (of Airship) kicked things off by leading a brainstorm with the kids to come up with app ideas that would benefit Birmingham. Here are a few of my favorites:img_0766-jpg

After splitting up, each team selected ideas from the brainstorm to develop and later present to a panel of judges. At this point, I was still on the Hospitality Team, so I was walking around to see if the kids (or volunteers) needed anything and scoped out what everyone was working on.

One team was working on a pet translator. Another worked on a volunteer crowdsource. Yet another was working on a “BirminghamGo” app. My favorite, though, was a team working on a Birmingham Scavenger Hunt. In the app, the user had to go to each landmark in Birmingham to answer a trivia question. When the user answered the question correctly, they would acquire an item needed to save the princess from “Blazer,” the UAB dragon, at Vulcan.

Just before lunch, one of the volunteers had to leave, and I was asked to step in and work with the Birmingham Scavenger Hunt team (aka Team Awesome). SCORE. We got right to it. They had already decided on landmarks and characters, and although the team was swiftly building the app, their difficulty was in telling the story and coming up with a plan – something I am good at. I absolutely loved helping them discover how to tell their story, what types of imagery to use, and coaching them in how to present their app to our panel of judges.

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They were having fun, I swear.

Prior to judging, a couple of very special people joined us…

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The kids (and adults) were enthralled to see the Stormtroopers! They lined up to have their pictures made and get autographs.

At the end of the day, Team Awesome won second place and were begging for some extra time to finish building out their app and implement it.

I’m so grateful that Daxko is invested in future generations of coders and geniuses and that my teammates would show up to work on a Saturday – some in full Stormtrooper gear – to make an impact in our community.

Congrats to TechBirmingham for a very successful event!


Emily V. is a proud dog mom, and Netflix connoisseur, and lives on Daxko’s Engagement Solutions Team.

How to Impact Your Community in Just One Hour

By | Community, Culture, Healthy Stuff, Talent, Technology | No Comments

Throughout last week, several members of the Daxko Software Engineering team visited five different schools in the Birmingham area to teach an Hour of Code. Code.org organizes this campaign annually to teach students about computer science. The concept is simple – spend one hour doing a fun, engaging activity that educates kids on coding. The Daxko team used several methods to teach kids about how code affects many of their daily activities, including Scratch, a BB-8 robot, and Minecraft.

Hour of Code isn’t only fun for the kids – it is genuinely fun and rewarding for Daxko team members as well.

Daniel V. is a QA Engineer at Daxko, and he enjoyed seeing the kids “genuinely interested in code and excited about technology.” He continues, “Kids are growing up in a time when technology touches all parts of life, so they seem extremely interested in learning how it gets put into motion. Before working at Daxko, I didn’t have much exposure to computer science. I was inspired to help my own children learn about it through my involvement with Hour of Code this year. I hope to be involved in Hour of Code in the future as well.”

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Napo M. facilitating for a classroom full of students

 

Shaun S. is a Software Engineer and has been with Daxko for several months. He says, “I had a great time playing coding games with the students using a BB-8 Sphero robot. We played magic 8-ball together and then programmed the robot to drive around, gesture, and say things to the kiddos. Every class asked me where they could get their own Sphero to program. The Elves will be busy making BB-8 Spheros this year!”

Shaun happened to teach his Hour of Code at the school where his wife Haley is a librarian. She added, “All my kids really loved the Hour of Code presentation! It was such a big hit that Brookville Elementary is buying its own Sphero!”

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Nick M. and Butch M. discussing how code is like Legos

 

Butch M., Daxko’s QA Team Lead pictured above, says, “Seeing kids’ faces light up once they realize they can code is a great feeling. The kids we had the opportunity to share our time with is the next generation. It was great introducing the younger kids to some basic programming concepts and giving the older kids some resources they can use to get started coding. Minecraft + Python Scripting = Kids’ Minds Blown!”

Kelly M. is a QA Engineer at Daxko, and this was her first year to participate in Hour of Code. She enjoyed it, saying, “It was incredibly exciting and inspiring to see so many young girls and boys announce their tech dreams during our brainstorming session. All the kids were very motivated to finish their projects and problem-solve their way through code issues. If the future of technology is in their hands, we’ll be okay!”

The Hour of Code is an easy way to impact your community. The Daxko team will definitely be participating again in the future, and we encourage you to do the same. Get started here! Let’s do our part in paving the way for the Software and QA Engineers of the future.

Daxko Team Members Impact Communities Across the U.S.

By | Community, Culture, Employment Brand, Healthy Stuff | 5 Comments

Today, we hear from one of our remote team members, Jim Keeter, who works in Portland, Oregon. Jim decided to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with a friend in Arizona, giving back to those in need.

A college friend of mine and I have celebrated a few Thanksgivings together, the most recent being 4 years ago. He was living in San Diego, and I was living in Seattle. We decided to spend a long 5-night Thanksgiving weekend in Las Vegas. Yes, it was painful! My friend moved to Scottsdale, AZ a few months ago and talked me into spending Thanksgiving this year with him. Instead of wasting more money, brain cells, and time (ha!) we decided to do something a little more real, more genuine, and more in the spirit of Thanksgiving. We came up with the crazy idea to cook 12 turkeys and all the fixings for those in need. Everyone needs a real home-cooked meal, especially on Thanksgiving!

We ended up cooking:

  • 12 turkeys
  • 60 pounds of mashed potatoes
  • Homemade stuffing
  • Green bean casserole
  • Corn
  • Fresh rolls
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Apple pie
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Where do you thaw 12 turkeys? The bathtub, of course!

 

And we delivered the meals, along with ice cream, sodas, water, and a few beers. When the day was over, we had fed of 120 homeless Americans in the Phoenix area. I’m thankful to have spent time with warm, kind, loving souls who are starving for hope, respect, acknowledgement, a smile, hug, or plate of warm food. I am proud to say I spent my holiday embracing and feeding our sisters and brothers, and making a difference.

Best of all, this was easy. So I propose we all try to show a little kindness this holiday season and throughout 2017 with something I’m calling the 12th Man Holiday! You can start this on 12/12, and the idea is simple: Make a difference. Buy 12 pizzas for strangers, pay for 12 parking meters, yield for people at 12 stop signs. Any act of kindness and helpfulness is fair game. Mark the 12th day of every month as 12th Man Holiday, and make a difference.

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