From Sales to Engineering - Career Growth at Maxwell

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” I’ve heard this quote many times and while I wasn’t always sure I believed it, I am certainly starting to now. My career has taken an unconventional, windy path and while at times it felt frustrating, I’m grateful to have been able to explore different opportunities, learn a lot about myself along the way and ultimately land in a career I’m genuinely excited about, every day. From where I currently sit, it’s pretty neat to look back and connect those dots. But let’s back up…

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” - Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

I joined Maxwell in January 2019 as a Sales Development Representative. I had recently quit my marketing career, completed a web development program and was weighing my options on how to move forward (have you seen how may there are?). One idea was to try sales engineering, so gaining sales experience at a tech company seemed like a good step. I was specifically attracted to Maxwell because of the problem they were solving, the why behind it and the company culture of collaboration, hard work and transparency.

From day one I was open and honest with my leadership about my desire to be closer to the technology side of the business and when a slot opened up on the Customer Success Team, I was excited for the opportunity to jump in head first! During my time in customer success I connected with our Director of Engineering who, after finding out I’d completed my program, offered a mentorship I couldn’t pass up. I started to take on various small projects and bugs, learning our code base and gaining experience along the way.

Today I am a Software Engineer at Maxwell and I couldn’t be more thrilled. While the path was not linear, there are numerous experiences I gained along the way that I feel set me up for success as an engineer including the benefits of learning the product you’re developing and how communication goes a long way in fostering forward momentum.

Learn about the product you are developing

Through my time in sales I gathered knowledge of our product, the complexities of the mortgage industry and what our prospects were looking for (or not). From customer success I learned even more about our platform, how it worked, what customers liked and didn’t like, including how they used the platform in their day to day and just how different those use cases were. This allowed me to step into the engineering role with a deeper context around the platform from a user perspective which, as a new engineer to the code base, helped immensely in understanding what was going on in the code, the design and product overall.

One of the features of using Maxwell is automated emails which means there a number of different files setup to handle various notifications. Not too long ago, a customer pointed out a bug in one of our email templates and without the knowledge I’d gained from my time in customer success around how these worked, which emails went where and to whom, I could have spend a lot of time just trying to figure that out. Because I had the background knowledge, I was able to determine which type of email I was looking for, what other functionality was tied to those emails that may need to be considered and easily find the relevant files to work in.

Communication goes a long way

Aside from the immediate platform knowledge, I had now been calling prospects and talking to customers and I had gained a ton of confidence in communication I didn’t even know I was lacking. This felt key to being a successful engineering team member due to the ever changing nature of not just being at a startup, but being at one which is in growth mode! There is a lot going on, there are a lot of changes happening and it’s important to be able to speak up, reach out and voice opinions. It may spark a needed conversation, ignite a new idea or you might just learn something!

As I mentioned, Maxwell has a culture of collaboration so no matter what your role, you’ll find yourself working with folks across the company and there were many times in both sales and customer success where we were in communication with our product team and engineers directly. No matter the topic, but especially for issues like bugs, they always requested as much detailed information as possible. Now that I’m on the other side, it’s easy to understand why! Having as much detail as we can get as engineers helps us to understand and identify what might be causing a bug or other issue much more quickly. Without that detailed communication, it can truly be like trying to find a needle in a haystack!

Maxwell has been an integral piece of getting from where I was to where I wanted to be and I am so grateful to be part of a company who not only allows but encourages employees to explore their interests and grow in their careers. This is just the beginning - I can’t wait to see what the future holds and to keep connecting those dots!

Written on November 18, 2021 by Beth Jaworski

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