Switching careers is a challenging process, made even more so when you have spent years building a career in a different field. After 16 years of teaching middle school, Erin needed a change. In setting her goals, she became really clear and intentional about her search. Erin’s plan entailed organizing and tracking job applications and interviews, signing up for Aspireship’s Customer Success Foundations course, taking the Customer Success Intensive, upskilling with Teacher Career Coach and learning through Customer Success expert, Carly Agar. In her interview, we learn how she went from applying to 100s of jobs to landing a Customer Success role.
Prior to the Aspireship course, what was your background in Customer Success?
Prior to Aspireship, I had absolutely zero experience in Customer Success. I didn’t know anyone personally who worked in the industry and hadn’t even heard of CS before. I knew that I needed a change from teaching as working with kids all day was taking too much of my bandwidth from my own personal kids, but I wasn’t sure what else I would be good at after building a career in education for 16 years.
What excited you about Customer Success?
I first heard about Customer Success and Aspireship from Daphne Gomez’s Teacher Career Coach Course. Daphne’s program highlights roles that teachers typically change to and thrive in because of their skillset. I debated returning to college to start a new career but was incredibly unsure about my next steps. I felt a sense of failure due to wanting something different from what I had always presumed to be my desired path–teaching. I was sure that a change in careers would undoubtedly strain my family’s finances.
Despite my uncertainties, I decided to take a leap of faith and try Aspireship to understand what it means to be a CSM. I rationalized the cost of Aspireship as a worthwhile investment, to test the waters of the industry before committing to pursuing any different path or additional college degrees.
Customer Success excites me because coming from teaching, I have a big itch to HELP people and CS allows me to help customers daily. An entry level CS salary was 20% more than I was used to making as a 16 year teacher with a master’s degree. I also have a much higher earning potential as I advance beyond a CSM level 1 role. Another perk is that many CS jobs are remote, which enables me to juggle being a mom and wife so much better.
Did you have any challenges or hurdles when making your decision to interview for CS jobs? How did you overcome them?
The same week that I did not re-sign my teaching contract for the upcoming year, then the Silicon Valley Bank crashed and it impacted the tech industry and the hiring market. I had to claw my way into the tech industry.
Throughout my career transition, I had a lot of imposter syndrome when interviewing for CSM jobs, and consequently I did not appear confident during interviews. By taking more courses like the CSM2 with Aspireship, I became more confident in my ability to speak the CS language. I did 6 different mock interviews with people already in the industry who could give me feedback to improve. The job search is challenging because there’s a lot of rejection that comes with it and this adds more insecurity. Carly Agar’s CS Accelerator course helped me get better at networking with people on LinkedIn, and it helped me become more polished in interviews. I cannot stress how helpful feedback is from mock interviews and how much it boosted my confidence. To land my current role, it took 6 rounds of interviews including a panel and a pitch deck presentation. Despite the hurdles, I beat out 4 people who had direct CSM experience.
What was the process like switching into your new position?
Getting into CS was difficult because the tech market was pretty unstable at the time I was looking to change careers. Even experienced CSM’s were getting laid off. It took me applying to nearly 500 different positions, 11 first round interviews, 2 second round interviews, 1 third round, 1 fourth round, 1 fifth round, and 1 sixth round interview.
Here’s what her job search strategy entailed:
Monday–apply to 5-8 jobs (found them on LinkedIn, BuiltIn, and indeed).
Tuesday–reach out to 5+ contacts at each of the companies I had applied to and send a 1 minute introductory loom video unique to the company as to why I was interested in the role and why I was a good fit.
Friday–Throughout the week I tracked the number of views on my loom videos and tracked who responded or who I connected with on LinkedIn in a spreadsheet. If I hadn’t heard from anyone, then I emailed the hiring manager and attached my resume and my intro video.
What is your motivation for this career change?
My motivation for changing careers has always been so that I can be my best self for my family. I was carrying too much stress from work home, and at the end of the day I felt like my family was getting what was left-over of me. In my new role, I am less stressed. I do not have a commute, and I have flexibility in my schedule so I don’t miss my son’s school activities now. I have better mental health, and I am making 20% more than I did previously.
In recommending CS as a new career path for others, what do you feel are the most important skills to develop in the first few months in this field?
Personally I believe skills are only 20% of the job. The other 80% is work ethic, attitude, time management, problem-solving skills, and adaptability. Skills can be learned and companies will provide onboarding and training to teach employees those skills. To showcase that I was dedicated to learn the skills that it took to be a CSM, I took both Aspireship CSM courses, learned how to use programs like Salesforce/Hubspot/Gainsight, and I joined online networking groups with other CSM’s to professionally learn from. During my final interview, the director said that she could tell I was eager to learn and ultimately that helped me stand out against experienced CSM’s.
How were you spending your time prior to finding the course?
I took the Aspireship courses while still working full-time as a teacher. Because the courses are self-paced I was able to still do both.
How did you come across Aspireship?
I heard about Aspireship from Daphne Gomez’s Teacher Career Coach course.
What are hobbies outside of work that you enjoy?
Both of my sons are very good baseball and basketball players. We spend the majority of our time as a family at the field or on the court. I love cheering my kids on in whatever they do!