From Food Service to Earning a Salary in Tech: Elise Cox’s Upward Journey

From Food Service to Earning a Salary in Tech: Elise Cox’s Upward Journey

When Elise Cox, a current Technical Sourcer at Gusto and former Tech Fellow at Flockjay, became a mother in 1997, her focus in life became solely about providing for her child, even if that meant putting off her college degree and waiting twenty years to land a career in tech.

To provide for her three children and twin grandchildren, Elise had to perform a constant juggling act that could have earned her a spot at Cirque du Soleil. Not only was she working full-time as a Training Manager at Bojangles, she was also working part-time as a Sorter at UPS and taking accelerated classes at Georgia State University.

Working 16-hour days was barely enough to scrape by. When Elise first started at Bojangles, she made $12 per hour. Then she got promoted — and made $13.50 per hour.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel, though. Elise’s work ethic had impressed Bojangles enough to promise her an Assistant Unit Director role, where she would oversee the operations of an entire restaurant. She was getting her own store.   

But just as things were looking up, they suddenly came crashing down. Due to new city ordinance rules, the location was never built. She was stuck working her current job. 

“I was over there making $13.50 per hour yet doing everything that the Assistant Unit Director does, with no further discussions about compensation.” says Elise. “That’s when I decided that I was getting out”.

Elise’s decision to get out of the food service industry was one that would change her life forever, allowing her to pluck her family out of the depths of poverty and earn two promotions in just two years. But it would also set her on a path that would test her will and work ethic like none other had done before.

Breaking into Tech Through Flockjay

Prior to joining Flockjay, Elise had attended a LaunchCode Base Camp every January for the prior five years. Her best friend also started the program the first year and by 2019, was Chief of Staff at her tech company. She encouraged Elise to continue with LaunchCode because she recognized that Elise thinks like a software engineer and could tap into that to launch a much more lucrative career in tech.  

“I knew that tech was the avenue I needed to take to expand my career and my finances,” says Elise. “Not only to make a change for myself but for my children and then of course my grandchildren.”  

Despite Elise’s ability to think like a programmer, the act of programming didn’t come so  naturally to her. Fortunately, this same best friend caught wind of Flockjay, a tech sales bootcamp that could help her break into the tech space through her communication and relationship building skills, which she had been sharpening for the past two decades in the food service industry. 

After doing her research on Flockjay, she was sold. And so was Flockjay. She was accepted into their second batch of students.

Adding Another Ball to Her Juggling Act

On top of opening Bojangles at 4:00 AM from Sunday through Thursday, Elise now had to attend class with Flockjay from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM, Monday through Thursday. With two to three hours of homework each night and a wake up time at 3:30 AM, she would only be able to run on two hours of sleep for three days straight each week for the next twelve weeks. 

But surprisingly, this wasn’t her biggest obstacle when she started the program. 

“After my third week, I was going to drop out. I didn’t think I was smart enough to be there,” says Elise. “Everyone in my batch already seemed to have experience in tech, specifically in inbound and outbound sales, and the only sales experience I had was in the food service industry and my dad’s custom automotive restoration business growing up.”

Needless to say, imposter syndrome had dug its claws into Elise. But during one of the last classes she planned on attending, a Slack message from Flockjay’s CEO, Shaan Hathiramani, sparked a crucial conversation that would pry those claws loose. 

“Shaan apparently saw a change in my demeanor during class,” says Elise. “He messaged me on Slack asking if I was okay. At first, I told him I was fine. But then I decided to take that moment to be vulnerable. So I told him the truth.”

Shaan immediately set up a meeting with Elise after class to talk things through and assure her that she did in fact belong in Flockjay. However, her mind was made up. The material taught in class was tough to retain, especially since she was running on such little sleep.

Shaan did make one breakthrough with Elise, though. He was able to connect her with Kelly Schuur, Flockjay’s Head of Sales Training, to discuss the material that she found difficult to understand. But Kelly knew she had to have a deeper, more meaningful conversation with Elise in order to help her find the motivation to finish the program.      

“The conversation was nothing about the material at all. It was just a safe space for me to vent about my feelings of unworthiness. When I was able to release those inner whispers, it freed up space in my head to retain the material taught in class. It also gave me energy to stay up and do the homework after class,” says Elise. “Within two weeks, I was feeling motivated to complete the program.”

From then on, Elise put her nose to the grindstone, working her round-the-clock schedule and catching up on sleep all night Thursday and all day Friday. “I just kept telling myself it’s only X more weeks,” says Elise. “I can do this.”

Landing Her Dream Job at Gusto 

Two weeks before graduation, Elise’s interview process began. She interviewed with at least two to three companies per week and eventually landed a final round interview at Gusto, an HR, payroll, and benefits platform for small businesses.

With four interviews at Gusto and one of their take home assignments under her belt, Elise was more than prepared to crush her final interview. But when she joined the Zoom Call, she was hit with a jolt of shock. 

“Shaan, Kelly, and my instructor from Flockjay were on the call with my hiring manager. And that’s when they told me this was my offer call,” says Elise. “I was in tears.” 

Two weeks later, Elise and her family relocated to Denver, Colorado, where she would launch her new career in tech sales, triple her pay, and receive great medical benefits for the first time in her life. 

For the past two years, Elise has quickly climbed the ladder at Gusto, earning two promotions to two different departments at the end of each year. The first to the Customer Success team as a Customer Success Advisor and the second to the Invite (Recruiting) team as a Technical Sourcer. 

Surprisingly, Elise stumbled upon both of these promotions. When COVID-19 first shut down the economy, she volunteered to field PPP loan inquiries, which overwhelmed Gusto’s Customer Care team. Elise had been working in sales for the past ten months, but after helping the Customer Care team out, she was presented with the opportunity to interview for the newly formed Customer Success Team and earned one of the ten positions.

“Customer Success gave me the opportunity to build rapport with our customers, learn about their needs, and help them improve their overall people operations,” says Elise. “As the daughter of a small business owner, I felt that I would be of better service to the people of the small business community.” 

After working as a Customer Success Advisor and absolutely loving it for nearly a year, Elise attended a fireside chat with Roz the Recruiter, the current Director of Technical Recruiting at Zillow and former Head of Talent Acquisition at Warner Media. Elise had met Roz at AfroTech 2019, and she had left a lasting impression on her, sparking an interest in recruiting. That interest was rekindled after the fireside chat. And Elise knew she wanted to at least try recruiting one day. 

As fate would have it, Elise was recommended to apply for a Technical Sourcer position just a few months later. There were about 80 applicants gunning for the job, but she says her belief in the product, willingness to take ownership of her growth, and her vulnerability to be coachable and open to the changes in an ambiguous environment was what separated herself from the pack.  

As someone who has gotten promoted to two different departments in just under two years, you might think Elise has gone above and beyond in every facet of her work. But according to her, working to the best of her ability is what has helped her climb the ladder so quickly. 

“As a black woman, it’s common knowledge that we have always felt that we have to work harder than anyone else in the room,” says Elise. “Maybe that has some validity. Either way, I just did my best at each task, every day. And when I felt my best was not enough, I communicated that with my manager and worked to find a solution.” 

Elise’s Greatest Accomplishment

During the middle of Elise’s career in the food service industry, she remembers earning just enough income to pay her rent and utilities each month. 

Then, her daughter needed braces. They barely scraped by for the next two years. 

Flash forward to today, though, and Elise has the means to buy her daughter a piano so she can learn the instrument that she’s wanted to play her entire life, and plans to hire a Japanese tutor to teach her daughter the language that she’s been fascinated with since fifth grade. 

For Elise, this is her greatest accomplishment. Not running on three hours of sleep before every class. Not landing a job at one of the hottest startups in the country. Nor single-handedly taking her family out of the depths of poverty in just twelve weeks. Because there was only one thing motivating her through it all — her children. 

“Before Gusto, I couldn’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t in survival mode,” says Elise. “But those days are over. Now, I can comfortably supply whatever we need.” 

Your New Career in Tech Sales Starts Now

Sales is the best kept secret in tech, and Flockjay will show you the way. With online classes and live instructors, Flockjay teaches you everything you need to know to be job ready in just 10 weeks. Ready for a career change?

A Closer Look at Flockjay’s Curriculum

A Closer Look at Flockjay’s Curriculum

At Flockjay, our goal is to help people who have never had any sales or tech experience turn into fully ramped tech sales reps in just ten weeks. But to do that, we need to teach our students a comprehensive yet extensive curriculum.

To get a closer look at our curriculum, we’ve fleshed it out below. Read on to see what exactly you’ll learn when you enroll in our program.

Week 1 – Introduction to Solution Selling

During week one, you’ll learn exactly what tech sales is, how to get prospects to like you, and how to determine if your prospects are a good fit or not for your company.

You’ll also get familiar with common tools that sales reps use like Slack, Google Suite, and LinkedIn. If you’ve never used Slack or created a LinkedIn profile, that’s okay! A lot of our alumni who work in tech sales now had never heard of Slack or created a Linkedin before they joined the program. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about the two tools.

Topics Covered

  • Solution sales
  • Rapport building
  • Intro to discovery

Tools Mastery

  • Slack
  • Google Suite

Assignments

  • Create LinkedIn Page
  • Write a LinkedIn Post
  • Submit original resume
  • Read about objection handling
  • Engage With a Flockmate’s LinkedIn post

Week 2 – Inbound Sales & Discovery Calls

During week two, you’ll dive deeper into how you can tell if your prospects are a good fit for your company or not. You’ll also learn how to set up sequences of communication with your inbound prospects or potential customers who reach out to you first about purchasing your product. After class, you’ll put your new discovery skills to the test.

Topics Covered

  • Discovery
    • BANT
    • Qualifying leads
  • Inbound sales cadences
    • Emails
    • Voicemails
    • Calendar invites

Tools Mastery

  • Google Calendar

Assignments

  • Use our research template to research a real company
  • Start new resume
  • Leave a voicemail
  • Update LinkedIn page
  • Research mock company, draft an inbound email, and create a calendar invite

Week 3 – Outbound Sales & Discovery Calls

During week three, you’ll learn all about vetting your outbound prospects on the phone. Outbound prospects are potential customers who you initiate contact with and have never reached out to you before. After class, you’ll put your new discovery skills to the test and refresh your resume.

Topics Covered

  • Outbound sales cadences
    • Company research
    • ICP & IBP
    • Elevator pitch
    • Email cadence
    • Email personalization

Tools Mastery

  • LinkedIn
  • G2

Assignments

  • Use our research template to research a real company
  • Update experience section on your resume using ACR framework (Action, Context, Results)
  • Create an IBP for the real company and draft a 30-60 second elevator pitch to someone who has never heard of them
  • Draft an outbound email to a mock company

Week 4 – Outbound Sales & Prospecting

During week four, you’ll learn all about finding the ideal outbound prospects for your company, which is called prospecting, through product review sites like G2 and company research sites like Crunchbase. After class, you’ll put your new prospecting skills to the test.

Topics Covered

  • Cold calls and voicemails
  • Strategic account penetration

Tools Mastery

  • LinkedIn
  • G2
  • Crunchbase

Assignments

  • Create an outbound email cadence
  • Edit the experience section on your resume by adding contextual and outcome-driven results
  • Draft a cold call script
  • Create a Loom account and Loom video
  • Complete a prospecting document

Week 5 – Tech Tools

During week five, you’ll complete the first step of the Tech Tools module, where you’ll learn how to use one of the most common sales software around — Salesforce. You’ll also learn about the day-to-day of an SDR, as well as work on your resume.

Topics Covered

  • The Workflow of an SDR

Tools Mastery

  • Salesforce

Assignments

  • Format your resume
  • Submit research document

Week 6 – Tech Tools

During week six, you’ll complete the second step of the Tech Tools module, where you’ll learn how to use another common sales software — SalesLoft. You’ll also learn how to enhance the cadence of your communication, as well as selling on social media sites like LinkedIn. After class, you’ll put your newly acquired skills to the test.

Topics Covered

  • Strategic cadence design
  • SFDC/Salesforce integration
  • Social Selling

Tools Mastery

  • SalesLoft

Assignments

  • Complete social selling doc
  • Create first social engagement post
  • Set up SalesLoft account
  • Create Calendly account
  • Submit Capstone Outbound Doc
  • Submit Capstone Inbound Doc

Week 7 – Tech Sales Interview Prep

From week seven to ten, it’s time to get prepared for your interviews. During this week, you’ll complete the first step of the four-step tech sales interview prep process, where you’ll get an overview of what a tech sales interview will look and feel like, learn how to tell your story, and learn how to nail your tone and energy. After class, you’ll hone your interview skills.

Topics Covered

  • Intro to tech sales interview
  • Telling your story
  • Tone and energy

Tools Mastery

  • Linkedin
  • SalesLoft

Assignments

  • Create second social engagement post
  • Complete Tell Your Story document
  • Complete Interview Notes document
  • Record video responses to five interview questions
  • Complete interview story guide

Week 8 – Tech Sales Interview Prep

During week eight, you’ll complete the second step of the tech sales interview prep process, where you’ll run through different types of interviews and different types of questions that you’ll get asked. After class, you’ll keep putting your interview skills to the blade.

Topics Covered

  • Recruiter phone screens
  • Interview question types
  • Behavioral-based questions
  • Performance-based questions

Tools Mastery

  • SalesLoft (with Capstone)

Assignments

  • Use Company Research document to research a real company
  • Record a 2-minute video of yourself answering a question from the interview story guide
  • Complete behavioral-based questions & answer document and choose one question to record a video response to

Week 9 – Tech Sales Interview Prep

During week nine, you’ll complete the third step of the tech sales interview prep process, where you’ll learn how to make your intentions clear during an interview. After class, you’ll continue mastering the art of interviewing.

Topics Covered

  • Interview intentions
  • Take-home assignments

Tools Mastery

  • SalesLoft

Assignments

  • Complete performance-based question & answer document
  • Choose two questions to record a video response to
  • Complete Interview Intention document
  • Complete two THAs

Week 10 – Tech Sales Interview Prep

During week ten, you’ll complete the final step of the tech sales interview prep process, where you’ll learn everything about on-site interviews, following up with interviewers, approaching the job search, and handling job offers. After class, you’ll get ready for graduation!

Topics Covered

  • Review
  • On-site interviews
  • Organizing your resources
  • Email etiquette and interview follow-up
  • Job search and job offers

Tools Mastery

  • Google Drive
  • Chirp (Flockjay Social Network)

Assignments

  • Write a letter to your future self six months from now
  • Prepare some kind words in preparation for graduation to share with your trainers, TAs, and flockmates

Launch Your Career in Tech Sales Today!

Now that you know exactly what you’ll learn to become a fully ramped tech sales rep in just ten weeks, consider applying for our program! If you graduate and qualify for our career services, you potentially land a tech sales role at one of the top tech companies in the world, such as Salesforce, Zoom, or Gong.

Your New Career in Tech Sales Starts Now

Sales is the best kept secret in tech, and Flockjay will show you the way. With online classes and live instructors, Flockjay teaches you everything you need to know to be job ready in just 10 weeks. Ready for a career change?
From Shaking Cocktails to Selling Software: Cameron Macdonald’s Tech Sales Journey

From Shaking Cocktails to Selling Software: Cameron Macdonald’s Tech Sales Journey

Five months ago, Cameron Macdonald was the Bar Manager at Club Deluxe in San Francisco, cooking up new recipes for their cocktail menu, working weekends, and rarely, if ever, taking vacation. Today, he’s one of the top sales development representatives at DispatchTrack, selling delivery optimization software, getting weekends off, and earning paid leave for the first time in his adult life.

As someone who worked as a bartender for the past decade, pivoting to an entirely new career during a pandemic might’ve initially seemed like a pipe dream. But Cameron has proven that it’s more than possible to beat those odds. And now he wants to detail his adventure down the tech sales career path with other bartenders and service industry workers who might not be aware of the opportunity.

We sat down with Cameron to learn about his journey from bartending to tech sales. Read on to learn how he went from shaking cocktails to selling software with the help of Flockjay’s tech sales training program.

Dropping Out of College to Pursue Bartending

Cameron studied sociology at San Francisco State University to chase his dream of working at an NGO. But when his plans to work for an NGO in Papua New Guinea fell through, he realized that the only way he could make a good living with a sociology degree was by getting his master’s.

At the end of the day, Cameron knew he had fallen out of love with sociology and decided college wasn’t for him. Luckily, Cameron had a Plan B. He had already started working as a server during his sophomore year of college and knew he wanted to launch a career as a bartender because he loved experimenting with cocktails. But it wasn’t easy breaking through.

“My boss wasn’t willing to move me up because I didn’t have any experience. So to get some, I’d learn how to make drinks on the side and come in on my off days to help out,” says Cameron. “One day, one of my bar managers finally caved in and let me help out behind the bar. Then I got my shot after a bartender got fired for being drunk on shift during the World Cup. After that, I fell in love with the whole bartending scene, as a whole.”

However, despite his passion for creating new cocktail menus and building relationships with his customers, Cameron realized that, after a few years, bartending definitely has its cons. For instance, Cameron usually wouldn’t get home until 3:00 AM every night. His days off were also Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so if he ever wanted to take a weekend off to see his family or his girlfriend’s family, he would have to get his shift covered and forfeit his pay.

Another aspect of bartending that Cameron wasn’t a fan of was his lack of medical coverage, especially since a bare-bones plan cost him around $500 per month. “If I ever got seriously hurt, I would’ve been screwed,” says Cameron.

By the time Cameron hit his late 20s, he set a goal for himself to pursue a new career by the time he was 30. This decision was catalyzed by two realizations:

  1. There was no upward mobility in bartending, and
  2. He had to start using a Theragun massage device to knead the tendinitis out of his forearms.

“The thing about bartending is that you can either become a bar owner, which is very hard to do, or try to become a general manager, which is even harder to do because you’re just managing people and don’t even get paid for it,” says Cameron.

“There’s not a lot of upward mobility in bartending. It’s very hard to have a successful career, especially since it breaks down your body so badly.”

Breaking into Tech Sales through Flockjay

Cameron had been thinking about leaving the service industry for a long time, but when COVID-19 shut down the restaurant he was working at, he officially started his search for a new career. A mutual friend recommended that he try sales. When Cameron was applying to jobs, though, he had no bachelor’s degree or any tech or sales experience that he could tout on his resume. As a result, he didn’t land a single interview. “I got the middle finger from a lot of people,” says Cameron. Cameron knew he had to add some more experience to his resume, so he decided to enroll in a sales boot camp.

After trading a few texts and calls with some friends, he got in touch with a mutual friend who connected him with Flockjay.

“At first, I thought Flockjay was too good to be true,” says Cameron. “Then lo and behold, I go through the program and boom. I get a job in tech sales”

When Cameron was going through the program, he absolutely adored its community feel and support system. Not only did he appreciate all of the positivity that his fellow students brought to class but he also felt like they all pushed each other to succeed, in a healthy way.

“When you’re in the trenches with a bunch of like-minded individuals who are constantly pushing each other forward, it’s definitely something special. At first, I wasn’t used to how supportive everyone was and then you realize, this is how things should be. This is great,” says Cameron.

“Everyone was very open about how they felt about things and very considerate. That sense of community was great. It made me not want to fail because I didn’t want to let any of my team down. It was good pressure to push forward, knowing that we’re all in this together. That was something I truly loved.”

After graduating from Flockjay, Cameron’s Career Services Manager got him in touch with Flockjay’s hiring partners and guided him through every step of the interview process. This was super helpful since he had never interviewed for a job in tech before. Within a few weeks of graduation, Cameron landed a job as an SDR at DispatchTrack, one of Flockjay’s hiring partners.

How Life as an SDR Compares to Life As a Bartender

During his time at DispatchTrack, Cameron has enjoyed plenty of benefits that he never would’ve gotten access to as a bartender. One of these benefits is working a normal schedule and doing it from home.

“I have freaking weekends off. I can’t stress that enough. It’s amazing. I’m going to Tahoe at the end of this month. And I’m taking this Thursday and Friday off and getting paid for it because I have paid time off.”

“In a nutshell, I get to sit at home and get paid to hang out in my sweats and chill with my cat. It’s great,” says Cameron.

Another benefit that Cameron cherishes is not being exposed to health hazards at the workplace, especially since his parents are in an age group that’s at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. “I was working in the service industry up until December during COVID”, says Cameron. “And that thing sucks. It’s stressful. I was always worried if I got the virus. I mean, I wasn’t able to see my parents. Because what if I got it somehow and I came home and brought it? But now, that stress is gone. I couldn’t be more thankful for it.”

Out of all these new benefits, though, the one that Cameron relishes the most is having an actual career.

“Overall, this has been life-changing. If I want to bust my ass and make more money, I can do that. I didn’t have that before. That’s something that I’m thankful for,” says Cameron.

“I have an actual career. I have something tangible to achieve. I have a clear path. So once I eventually want to have kids, I’ll be able to support them.”

3 Reasons Why Bartenders Can Be Great Tech Sales Reps

According to Cameron, there are three reasons why bartenders can easily translate their skills to tech sales: They’re used to getting objections, they’re good with people, and they know how to grind.

1. They’re used to getting a lot of objections.

“When you’re an SDR, you’re the tip of the spear. But it’s like you’re also eating a face full of dog crap every day. You’re getting a lot of no’s, a lot of objections, and a lot of rejections. But in terms of bartending, that’s your day-to-day. People are always trying to send drinks back, and you have to adjust the way you talk to people and be on your feet at all times.”

2. They’re good with people.

“If you want repeat business, the only way you’re going to build up regular customers is if you’re a likable person. One of my favorite aspects of bartending was building those relationships with people. Relationships mean more money. And that translates perfectly to sales. People want to buy from people they like. You have to be a likable person. Nobody’s gonna tip you if you’re a jerk. They’re gonna pay you the $8 for their vodka soda and be like, ‘Alright, not dealing with this jerk again,’ you know?”

3. They know how to grind.

“Some days, you’re on your feet for six to eight hours at a time and you just got to push through it. For me, personally, working from home and making calls every day is easy mode compared to working the Warriors playoff game, especially when they’re losing.”

Switching Careers from Bartending to Sales

If you resonate with Cameron’s story, possess the traits above, and want to make a life-changing career move today, consider applying for our tech sales training program! In just ten weeks, you’ll learn about everything from sales techniques to sales software and also potentially land a sales job at one of the top tech companies in the world, like Salesforce, Zoom, or Gong!

Your New Career in Tech Sales Starts Now

Sales is the best kept secret in tech, and Flockjay will show you the way. With online classes and live instructors, Flockjay teaches you everything you need to know to be job ready in just 10 weeks. Ready for a career change?
How to Make Working Remotely Work for You

How to Make Working Remotely Work for You

The pandemic has made working remotely a necessity for many people, and it comes with both enjoyable benefits and challenges to conquer. Each person’s experience is unique and it’s up ultimately to you to really build the remote foundation you need for success. Brittany Leverett, an Alumni Success Manager at Flockjay, recently discussed some WFH tips with a panel of Flockjay employees and alumni:  

  • Dunetka Cussi, Success Advisor at Flockjay
  • Toby Ukandu, Account Executive at Stripe and Senior Sales Trainer at Flockjay
  • Nagieb Musaid, Admissions Advisor at Flockjay and Former Tech Fellow at Flockjay
  • Elise Cox, Customer Success Advisor at Gusto and Former Tech Fellow at Flockjay

We shared Brittany’s top 5 remote work tips first and now it’s time to hear from the rest of the panel. From nailing your WFH routine to unplugging from work to 5 fun work activities to help get you through the pandemic, here’s what they had to say. 

On Nailing Your WFH Routine

When COVID-19 shut down virtually every office across the country, millions of daily routines and workflows were turned on their heads. No more morning commutes. No more lunch with the team. And worst of all, no more happy hour. 

Fortunately, most of us have been working remotely for over a year now, so we’ve been able to develop a solid WFH routine. However, there’s always room for improvement, especially since we’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. 

One of the ways Nagieb Musaid has honed his work routine is by creating his own commute. Prior to the pandemic, his commute was almost three hours long, which allowed him to hone his skills through music, podcasts, and audiobooks. But after a few months of working from home, he started to really miss his commute. So he decided to put matters into his own hands. 

“I started doing a little 10-minute commute, where I squeeze in two to three songs,” says Nagieb. “I try to be quick, but that’s like my meditation. That’s how I try to cool off and just get back to being me again.” 

Another way Nagieb keeps his day running smoothly is by testing his equipment and making sure it works correctly. In his own words, you don’t want to get caught slipping. 

“You don’t want your camera or audio to be messed up,” says Nagieb. “Also, consider upgrading your internet. If you need to do it, it’s worth it. Think of it as a work expense and, if you can, try to negotiate that into your pay as well.”

For Toby Ukandu, adjusting to the shift to remote work cropped up an even tougher challenge: Starting a new job. Toby joined Stripe in the middle of the pandemic and had to connect with his entire team through Zoom, which he found difficult since most of his team had already developed relationships with each other in person. But Toby didn’t give up on forging meaningful bonds through Zoom. He just pivoted his focus to making a few, deep connections rather than a lot of shallow ones. 

“I’ve been trying to find a few people throughout the company that I can develop a real connection with instead of just spreading myself wide and trying to talk to as many people as possible,” says Toby. “I do think it’s important to get out of your network and talk to different people in different departments, but you could spread yourself a little bit too thin doing that.”

If you’re like Toby, you also might feel like you need to hit the ground running at your new company. But he actually recommends doing the opposite, especially when you work remotely. 

“I think starting off working from home, you felt like you had to fill in the space with anything, even though they weren’t necessarily valuable,” says Toby. “Instead, just do less and focus on what’s actually valuable. And honestly, I’m taking advantage of that to spend time with my family as much as I can. So be sure to take advantage of that benefit too.” 

Elise Cox also echoes Toby’s sentiment on doing less when you work remotely. 

“When we come into a position, we want to outperform. Everybody’s like, ‘What’s the top person doing? I’m going to beat them’, says Toby. “But working from home, it can get overwhelming. So see how the second or third or fourth person is doing and just stay around there for a while, otherwise it can get overwhelming. Just stay in the middle, chill a little bit, get used to what you’re doing, and just manage what’s happening. Once you get your bearings, then you can be like, ‘All right, I’m coming for the top dog now.” 

On Unplugging from Work

When you work in the same place that you live, it’s easy to let your professional life bleed into your personal life. You not only have less to do in your free time but you also literally can’t leave your work. So how do you avoid tipping the scales of your work-life balance?

According to Elise Cox, who balances her career while being a loving mother and grandmother, setting a hard stop time for work every day is one of the most effective ways to maintain your work-life balance. If you have little ones in your life too, Elise suggests sitting them down for a clear conversation to express which hours you will routinely be unavailable to them and why. Then, when work is over – walk out the virtual door and stick to it! 

“I actually have a red end of the day, where I block my calendar for the last hour and a half of the day, just in case someone tries to throw something in there. But when that time comes up, I slam my laptop down. Like I’m done. I have to walk away. It’s honestly a great feeling. ” says Elise. “You have to be protective of your personal time because it’s so easy for it to bleed over. And don’t forget to turn those Slack notifications off.”

Nagieb Musaid also sets a hard stop time to end his day. But to make sure that he actually sticks to it, he makes an appointment at the gym so he literally has to leave his house.  

“I started going to the gym at the time that I want to stop at,” says Nagieb. “It gives me a reason to get out of my office, get out of my room, and actually do something else, which is good for my mental and physical health.”

If you’re struggling to find time for yourself within your busy schedule, check out the Reclaim calendar assistant for help with improving flexibility. 

5 Fun Work Activities to Help Get You Through the Pandemic

Work obviously has a professional nature, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, especially when we’re cooped up in the house all day. 

Here are some fun activities that our panelists do to get through the day at home. 

1. Get Goofy at Work 

“I love my onesies, and I love giraffes, so every Wednesday, I will put on my giraffe onesie and let folks know if you want me to turn on my camera, they’re going to see me with my hood on. And it just lightens the mood. And then if you are doing Zoom, they have a whole bunch of beta testing where you can put on mustaches and all kinds of other things. So we’ll have meetings where I walk in and  have a mustache and a beard on, and it’s just because, ‘Hey, why not?’” – Elise Cox 🦒 

2. Cook New Meals 

“One thing that I love to do between work is trying new recipes. It brings me a lot of joy. I just like cooking food that’s nutritious and delicious. I take care of myself and my family that way. That’s something that I love to do while working at home. It allows me to be more creative.” -Dunetka Cussi

3. Meditate at the Beginning of the Day

“Before I start my day, I do a little ten to 15-minute meditation to get that Zen and sharpen my mind. I’ve seen an improvement in my focus over the last two to three weeks. I’m still a newbie, but I’ve seen an improvement in my concentration during interviews and on the phone. I’ve even been doing it on my own and just feel like it’s helped me out so much. It’s night and day.” – Nagieb Musaid

If you’re unfamiliar with meditation or simply haven’t gotten around to giving it a try – now is the time! Check out Meditation 101 and try the Headspace app, it’s great for beginners. 

4. Get Your Smells Right 

“I’m all about my candles. I’ve tried a whole bunch of different kinds of candles. I gotta make sure my smells are right. I light a candle upstairs, downstairs, really everywhere in the morning.” – Toby Ukandu 🕯️

5. Develop a Morning Routine 

“I have this really intense morning routine. And if I don’t do it, I feel like everything breaks, and I just need to go back and try again. But I get up, I work out, and I make my breakfast and eat it in my workout room. And then I’ll listen to something positive or a random book in the shower. And then I can start work. But all of those things have to be done. I can’t break from any part of the process, but that’s become my hour and some change before I can come and talk to everybody.” – Brittany Leverett 

Make Working Remotely Work for You 

Today, right now, is a great time to start putting some of these tips to good use. What works for one person may not work for another, so it’s important to be patient and stay curious as you lay the foundation for your most productive remote work environment.

If you are seeking more opportunities to learn and work remotely, consider learning more about Flockjay’s 10-week tech sales training program and applying. We’ll help you launch a new career in tech sales, even without prior experience or a college degree. And with the state of remote work, many of the opportunities you’ll be applying for after graduation will have immense remote flexibility. Look into it and please let us know if you have any questions!

Your New Career in Tech Sales Starts Now

Sales is the best kept secret in tech, and Flockjay will show you the way. With online classes and live instructors, Flockjay teaches you everything you need to know to be job ready in just 10 weeks. Ready for a career change?

5 Remote Work Tips to Boost Happiness and Productivity

5 Remote Work Tips to Boost Happiness and Productivity

 We’ve officially been working from home for a year now, but there’s always still room to grow, especially since we’ll be working remotely for the foreseeable future. 

Fortunately, Brittany Leverett, an Alumni Success Manager at Flockjay, recently moderated a Lunch & Learn about working from home with a panel of Flockjay employees and alumni: 

  • Dunetka Cussi, Success Advisor at Flockjay
  • Toby Ukandu, Account Executive at Stripe and Senior Sales Trainer at Flockjay
  • Nagieb Musaid, Admissions Advisor at Flockjay and Former Tech Fellow at Flockjay
  • Elise Cox, Customer Success Advisor at Gusto and Former Tech Fellow at Flockjay

Here are five quick remote work tips that Brittany shared that can not only boost your happiness during the day but also your productivity. After that, read more remote work tips from the full panel here.

1. Take regular breaks throughout the day

When you work from home, it’s easy to just sit at your desk and keep plugging and chugging away at your work. Obviously, you’ll take breaks to get water, eat, and go to the restroom. But those aren’t enough to sustain your energy and focus throughout the day. 

“There are a lot of different types of breaks that you can take to better care for your mental and physical health while you work, like playing with your pets, taking them on a walk, or hanging out with your kids,” says Brittany. “Watching an episode of your favorite show during your lunch break is even a great way to recharge.” 

2. Have your favorite snacks ready at your disposal

“No one likes working with hangry people, and you’re bound to get hungry throughout the day,” says Brittany. “So consider buying snacks that you can quickly pull out in-between meetings or during your breaks.” 

Snacking is also a great way to keep your tank full and avoid stuffing yourself during lunch, which can lead to the dreaded food coma and, in turn, an afternoon lull.

3. Do walking one-on-ones

Switching things up not only freshens your day but it can also skyrocket your creativity. That’s why skipping the traditional Zoom meeting at your desk for a walking one-on-one meeting on your phone is one of the best things you can do when you work from home.  

“Walking one-on-ones also allow you to explore your surroundings or run some errands at home, all while connecting with your colleagues,” says Brittany. “This is especially beneficial when your work or personal life has gotten a bit overwhelming.”

4. Set alarms to remind you to take breaks and stop working

Sometimes, you need an alarm to remind you to get up and stretch, go walk the dog, get outside, drink water, or whatever you need to do to take a break.  Additionally, you might need another alarm to remind you to stop working. 

“We’ve all had nights where we worked until 9:00 pm, especially during the pandemic,” says Brittany. “But it’s definitely healthier to set a cut-off time so you can respect your time and your work-life balance.” 

5. Connect with coworkers 

Working from home can get a little bit lonely sometimes. It can get even worse when you’re new to a company and don’t really know how to connect with your new colleagues remotely.

A few ways to start socializing at work are to schedule bi-weekly lunch breaks with co-workers and attending company events.  At Flockjay, we have a different team host our weekly happy hour, which is called Friday Wine Downs. We also have a bunch of different identity groups that meet on a consistent basis.

“Odds are, your company hosts events and has identity groups, so don’t be afraid to join them,” says Brittany. “It might seem a little intimidating at first, especially if you’re new to the company, but everyone will likely be super welcoming and excited to have you there.”

Stay Productive While Working from Home 

We might be at the beginning of the end of COVID-19, but WFH is here to stay. Be sure to reference this blog if you’re ever struggling with remote work. We hope these tips can help you boost your happiness and productivity! Hear from the full panel when you read How to Make Working Remotely Work for You

Your New Career in Tech Sales Starts Now

Sales is the best kept secret in tech, and Flockjay will show you the way. With online classes and live instructors, Flockjay teaches you everything you need to know to be job ready in just 10 weeks. Ready for a career change?