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:
- There was no upward mobility in bartending, and
- 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!