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

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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.

Emily Zelko copy

60 Days In…

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I’ve been at Daxko for a little over 60 days now, and I am so glad to be a part of this great company! I love getting up and coming to work every day, I have made a great group of friends who have taken me under their wings and shown me the Daxko ropes, and I am constantly challenged to think outside of the box (or in my case, think outside the checklist). My first unofficial day with Daxko was our annual Kickoff, where our CEO Dave let the whole company know I was the newest team member during his keynote. What a way to make an entrance! My first official day was our Spring Software Products Expo, where all of our software product teams gave insight to what they were working on. That was a little overwhelming, but even from day one, I knew this was the right career move for me.

Why do I love my job? I get the opportunity to build engaging communications for Daxko customers. From researching the organizations to creating exciting content for emails, and working closely with our Daxko Engage project manager to help streamline our processes for a seamless customer experience, every day at Daxko is a little different for me. It’s never boring!

I recently started attending a weekly extracurricular group called the Front End Guild that allows me to build my coding knowledge. I’ve always enjoyed learning new skills to have in my back pocket, and Daxko fosters that passion of mine. From our Learning Library (I’m standing in front of it in the photo above), to the Professional Development allowance, to being able to shadow others, there are tons of avenues to grow and learn here.

So far my time at Daxko has been a memorable experience, and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow and make many more memories here!

Emily Z. is a Digital Delivery Specialist who loves Milo’s hamburgers.


March Test Automation Meetup

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The Birmingham Test Automation group had a great meetup here at the Daxko HQ last week. Jeremy P. and I shared how we use Ruby in test automation at Daxko. We showed how we’re using UI automation tests with Watir WebDriver and the Page Object Gem in conjunction with a custom built gem named the DataFactory. The Watir and Page Object gems are used to drive the web browser, while the DataFactory is used to talk to our databases to create, validate, and destroy the test data used for each test. We also gave an overview of the automation standards we have put in place such as:

  • ‘Every test should be self reliant and able to run independently’
  • ‘Use the DataFactory > UI for expectations and assertions’

If you’re interested in learning more about test automation, join us for our April meetup on Tuesday, 4/5 at Healthsouth. For more information, click here.

Exploring New Mountains

By | Culture, Free Career Advice, Grow Your Career, Life at Daxko, Professional Development | No Comments

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”  — Dr. Seuss

Joel Black…I told myself I wasn’t going to start with a quote, but after much debate with myself, that’s pretty much what happened.

Since I first started at Daxko, it has always felt like there’s a new “mountain” to explore every day. And once I’ve figured my way around that mountain, a new one appears in the horizon begging to be explored. I began working in our Production Support Team where I learned so much regarding SQL and our web services and investigating and resolving issues our customers were experiencing.

Within a year I discovered my next “mountain”. I was offered an opportunity to join our Quality Assurance Team and within a month I was able to attend one of the biggest Software Testing Conferences in New York City, a feat which I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish without the use of Daxko’s professional development budget. Since then I’ve been able to grow continually and learn so much about what all is behind the software development process. The skills I brought with me from Production Support came quite handy while troubleshooting bugs and issues.  

My current “mountain” I’ve been exploring is in the mobile world, through working and testing our mobile apps and website integrations. I’ve been able to delve into programing test automation for mobile apps and write API tests as well. Through this journey I’ve been able to uncover more frameworks and technologies than I can shake a stick at. However it’s been a fantastic journey nonetheless. As for what’s next? We’ll have to see what new mountain the horizon uncovers next!

Joel B. is a guitar-playing QA Engineer who loves lasagna. He’s been at Daxko since 2013.