09/29/2020: We sat down with QTMA alumnae Jamyang Tenzin (BizOps @ Shopify), Ali Khokar (Product Marketing @ Google), and Nikole Benson (Account Executive @ PartnerStack) to talk about the different opportunities in the technology space and how they landed their current roles in the industry.

Tell us about your current role. What do you find fun/challenging?Jamyang Tenzin

  • Currently a marketing operations and strategy insights manager at Shopify
  • Daily activities include...
  • Heavy researching, reading, writing, and communicating
  • Project managing to turn ideas into reality
  • Fun: talking to and learning from experts in the field
  • Challenging: largely research-based, would like more opportunities to execute ideas

Ali Khokar

  • Works for Stadia, Google’s cloud gaming service
  • Daily activities to get users to use their service include...
  • Evaluating company performance across channels; determine where users are coming from
  • App store/play store optimization
  • Fun: having access to games before they’re launched
  • Challenging: frustrating to not be able to access to a lot of data (Google has extremely strict data protection policies)

Nikole Benson

  • Currently a account executive at PartnerStack, a start-up
  • Daily activities to get potential customers to buy their softwares…
  • Calling prospective clients
  • Negotiating with customers
  • Preparing, researching, writing emails
  • Fun: closing deals (especially late-stage competitive deals)
  • Challenging: cold-calling

How did you decide that you wanted to go into tech?

  • Enjoyed the day-to-day activities at a tech startup
  • Liked the responsibility and autonomy
  • Able to solve real problems
  • Not a stagnant industry, always innovative and exciting

What are the biggest changes you see happening in your company over the next few years?

  • Lower barriers to entry, more accessible tech jobs
  • Increase in tech jobs and opportunities
  • More and more job applicants = more competitive landscape

What are some common misconceptions of working in tech?

  • Tech is not a homogeneous industry; roles and activities vary depending on the type of company
  • Ex. If you like challenges, change, and risk, working at a company that is in its early stages of development may be a good fit
  • Ex. If you are looking for cool amenities and more structured opportunities, you may go for a bigger, better established company
  • Don’t need to be a genius to work in tech
  • A lot of money can be made at tech companies, with better work-life balance

How did you land your job? What would you suggest for those seeking jobs/internships?

  • Tons of networking and shooting your shot
  • Challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone
  • Talk to a range of people within a company to learn more about their roles
  • Make deep connections with those who resonate with you, they may become your mentors
  • Make sure to ask about the day to day of the job to see if it’s something that you want to do
  • Be persistent!

General guidelines to grow your network

  • Create a spreadsheet to track the companies that you are interested in
  • Reach out to employees (possibly Queen’s alumnae) from these companies who are open to chat with you
  • Develop a “sales pipeline” for yourself by…
  • Writing the message you want to send to the people you’re reaching out to
  • Keeping track of the roles/activities that you are interested in
  • Tracking how far you are in your journey of pitching yourself to recruiters
  • Ask if your networks can connect you to other industry professionals
  • After you talk to someone, a great question to ask is “Is there anyone else you think I should talk to if I’m interested in {thing you’re interested in}”, setting you up for chain referrals
  • Use the Linkedin Premium free trial
Networking isn't just networking events, it’s actually making deep connections and telling people who you are and what you’re good at and they’ll do the rest for you

What skills should I develop to stand out?

  • Show that you’re a self-starter and can work with ambiguity
  • Ex. Starting a club, an initiative, a side-business etc.
  • Find areas where you can speak to your competitiveness and resiliency
  • Prove that you are passionate and curious about the company’s product and their impact
  • It’s better to have a few passions that you can do really well, than to have shallow knowledge on a range of topics.
  • An old co-chair of QTMA talks about how the jobs come to you if you're the best at one thing. In school, he learned everything there was to learn about payments. Although he was not the best at a wide variety of generic skills (finance, marketing, accounting etc.) he was the top graduate in Queen’s for the payment industry. He jumped into TD’s Innovation division because of his knowledge and 4 years after graduating, he is now a senior manager at RBC in their tech division
  • Make sure to have concrete proof of why you’re a good candidate

What would you do differently if you could go back to first-year?

  • Focus on learning and understanding course material
  • There are not as many opportunities for easy access to knowledge post-university
  • Start networking earlier, set yourself up for success as soon as possible
  • Try not to focus on the “clout” of working at well known companies
  • Make sure that you choose something that you genuinely enjoy
  • You want to pick roles that give you as much responsibility and learning as possible. Well-known companies can sometimes give you this, but ask about the day-to-day activities and interesting projects

Parting Advice

  • Use summer internships and first jobs as learning experiences, they don’t have to dictate your future career
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself, you still have so many future opportunities