My Success story started off from very humble beginnings in a small, rural mining community of seven thousand residents in Northern Michigan. Through scholarships, I was able to attend a decent University in the state of Michigan for my undergrad and land a job as an application developer for a small company in Southwest Michigan upon graduating.
I worked in this role for a couple of years but ultimately realized that my skills and passion didn’t align with a future in software engineering so I rolled the dice and decided to go back to graduate school at another University in Michigan to pursue an MBA degree. My hope was to get into project management within the technology space.
I pushed myself to my limits in grad school and was awarded ‘Outstanding Graduate‘ of my class. Upon graduating I was able to land a job as an Agile Project Manager in a SaaS-based development company in Michigan which was my hope.
I worked tirelessly in this role and proved that I was not only capable of delivering on projects but also able to lead a team of developers from a functional standpoint. After just over a year in this role, I got the opportunity to join Epic in Madison, WI, which is the world’s largest producer of medical records software.
This was a great opportunity to prove myself as a project manager amongst their team of over 10,000 individuals coming from some of the most prestigious Universities in the country. This gave me the confidence that I could compete with anyone in the industry regardless of my humble educational background.
After almost a year at Epic, I got burnt out by the travel and decided that I wanted to transition myself towards a career in Product Management and ideally make it to Silicon Valley.
I took a contract role as a Product Manager for a close friend and former colleague’s healthcare company and in just shy of a year completely revamped the UX of their electronic medical records software and completely turned around their user adoption struggles.
During my last few months in this role, I applied to well over 100 startups in the SF Bay Area via the AngelList platform in hopes of fulfilling my dream of making it to Silicon Valley.
After being rejected countless times due to my educational background and the fact that I wasn’t living in the SF Bay Area, I was finally able to win over a tech startup and join their team as a Technical Writer / Jr Business Analyst.
I knew that this role was a step down from where I was currently at in my career in the Midwest, but I believed in myself and knew that I could prove my worth and grow quickly.
Fast forward a year and a half to today and I am now the Chatbot/AI Product and Growth Lead at the very same startup. By believing in myself and working hard, I was able to impress my startup to the extent that I got two promotions in under a year, and am now responsible for leading the entire company’s chatbot/AI initiatives.
Outside of this role, I frequently publish to online Medium publications such as Chatbots Magazine and The Startup to freely share my knowledge and experience in the chatbot/AI space with others.
While it was not my intent, this has allowed me to build a brand for myself in Silicon Valley and in the last six months I have been invited to participate in two expert panel discussions and will be leading my own presentation on the best practices for developing chatbot products at a Product School event in downtown SF in September.
I was able to get to where I am today because I believed in myself, refused to take ‘No’ for an answer, and kept pushing myself towards my goals and dreams. There were countless times where I could’ve given up and settled for less, but I wasn’t willing to live with the regret of not reaching my dreams and my ultimate potential in the technology space.
I encourage anyone else coming from humble beginnings to believe in themselves and to never give up on even their wildest dreams. It may not be easy, and there will be bumps along the road, but persistence and self-belief almost always pay off in the end with a success story.