In November 2020, after a very long period of searching and bounding from lockdown to lockdown, the invitation to interview with a tech company arrived in my LinkedIn inbox. I secured the role of entry-level Sales Development Representative. Now, this may sound like a fancy title but most entry-level sales roles are not that different to customer service jobs or call centres. I answer phone calls from clients looking for a consultation about communication within their company infrastructure. Keep in mind, I am in the third year of an Arts with Journalism BA at NUI Galway – no computer science or business degree. The job demands a hunger for self-growth as without motivation and ambition you won’t get very far in a tech career freshly out of college. According to Indeed.com, “Employers care most about your GPA when you are applying for your first job out of school.” A degree offers a foundation but experience is key, whether that’s part-time work or volunteering.
Before joining this company, I knew little about Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. I didn’t know how to manoeuvre my way around ticketing systems and salesforce tools that help with data hygiene. I was simply a third-year student trying to learn a whole new system of tools and products while also studying for my midterm exams. The training was intense but surprisingly achievable. Before I started, I had never paid much thought to our student services and websites. I believed it was standard for websites to be confusing, laggy and uncomfortable to use. I put this all down to the sheer volume of information and student resources loading. Our use of Microsoft 365/Outlook was another factor I hadn’t considered. Why did we as a university choose this software for communication over the more familiar and user-friendly Gmail by Google? Why are we using Zoom when it has so many security concerns? Lecturers in some universities were also struggling to get a handle on these technologies, leading to controversies wherein they were caught bad-mouthing students without realising that they were not on mute.
I feel as though we have not received proper training for the tools we use, and have not taken full advantage of the amazing software available out there. Better training would help us navigate student services while also allowing for the opportunity to demonstrate new skills to future employers. For example, more online tutorials for tools like blackboard, or even for the student website, would be very useful. The university has had its share of technology mishaps affecting students. If there were perhaps more up-to-date, secure technological services for students, it would create a bridge in awareness to services in use in workplaces today, such as Hubspot and Salesforce. This could help train students for the future, working with CRM [customer relationship management] systems, creating further appeal for companies hiring new graduates. Indeed, a career in journalism is no longer a matter of carrying around a notepad. Positions in news and media organisations often require technical skills, and traditional staff writing positions are hard to come by today.
Positions in news and media organisations often require technical skills, and traditional staff writing positions are hard to come by today.