104: Drinking From A Fire Hose: How To Handle The Fast Pace Of Technology

One of the biggest truths about the technology industry is that it’s fast-paced and always changing. I compare it to the bustling streets of downtown Indy. Each morning, the sun will rise to the beauty of curved, ornate architecture, the smell of coffee and baking bread, and the allure of clothes in store windows. But with that comes honking horns, jaywalking pedestrians, and the occasional street festival. The action never stops and it’s different every day.

Sometimes, I think back to the moment when my husband found the job listing online and read the requirements out loud to me. I crossed my arms and shook my head to dismiss him, “I don’t even know what that job title even means!” So…we googled it.

During my first week at Salesforce, onboarding was compared to drinking from a fire hose. My trainer smiled and said, “A year here is three years somewhere else.” He seemed almost sentimental about it. This both intimidated me and excited me. I’ve been at Salesforce for 5 ½ years, which is like 16 years in technology years. Let me tell you, I’ve grown more than I could have ever imagined.

And you will do the same. Yes, at first, you will feel like you are drowning in technical processes and product knowledge, but you will learn. You will change, adapt, and excel.

The fast pace doesn’t end with onboarding. Your calendar and to do list will fill up quickly. I can honestly say I’ve never been bored. I’ve never not had something to do. There are days I add three things to my list and cross off one. You will learn when to say yes and when to say no or not right now. Make quarterly and yearly goals so you can stay focused and prioritize what is most important. Align yourself with team and company goals and knock them out. Make sure to include personal development in your goals as well.

Know your stuff. You can differentiate yourself by becoming an expert. Read about your industry, your competitors, your role, and your products. Take classes and volunteer for things outside your job. Shadow other roles. Anticipate what’s coming and how it will affect you and others. Learn about change before it happens. If you can bring up a project idea or forseeable problem to your manager and have a plan ready, your proactive attitude will speak volumes. This industry moves fast and if you don’t stay ahead, it will drag you along and you’ll feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up.

Reignite your passions by finding projects and personal development that mean something to you so you don’t lose energy and drive. Celebrate met goals and accomplishments! You will work hard but the payoff is so rewarding. Keep a list of all of your personal victories and finished projects so that you can look back and remember that you’re actually good at this. (See, I told you!) And it will be a great reminder for your manager when those yearly reviews come up too.

Finally and most importantly, never forget that you belong. You can handle anything and your career is full of possibility and new things. This line of work is interesting and challenging so you always have an opportunity to grow. You will stretch and do things you never thought you could. Remember you are talented, adaptive, and you can handle anything that comes your way. Repeat after me: I am going to KILL this. 

So walk those sunlit downtown streets toward the best version of yourself.

 

Carrie Birge is a former museum professional turned tech worker who spends her free time exploring the great state of Indiana, volunteering, enjoying the outdoors, and raising two mediocre cats. She is a featured columnist in the #1 ranked fan-run hockey paper in the NHL and an avid karaoke singer. In retrospect, she's probably more of an Amy March than a Jo March. 

Heather Thomas is an RFP Analyst at Salesforce and enjoys spending her time with her husband, Joel, and four-year-old son. Heather dreams of visiting Israel and England, and is obsessed with movies, TV, archaeology, EDM music, and food. All food. In the accompanying picture, Heather is standing on the set of Friends in Warner Bros Studios (yes, she almost lost her mind with excitement). You can follow her on Instagram @hrft or Twitter @hrthomas83.