At Cloud Giants, we benefit from a generous unlimited paid time off policy. But paid time off doesn’t always mean relaxing on a beach with an ice-cold margarita in hand as the waves crash in the background… Sometimes it means standing up in front of 80 ten-year-olds talking about your profession and why you were drawn to it for Career Day.

Don’t get me wrong, I had so much fun in that classroom. I hope the kids did too. After all, having fun is one of our Core Values.

Career Day this year was a diverse group of professional women sharing their stories and there’s nothing I love more than being part of a take-charge group like that. I had the pleasure of representing women in marketing and women in tech, so it was extra special to be the face of both of those industries for the kids.

Admittedly, I had some nervousness at first about speaking to them. Ten-year-olds can be a tough crowd. My thoughts immediately turned to that City Slickers scene where Billy Crystal launches into a mid-life crisis while trying to describe his advertising work for the radio station. Cue a young Jake Gyllenhaal rolling his eyes.

So when I thought about how to share what I do with the students, I wanted to share more than my daily responsibilities in the Salesforce ecosystem as a marketer. Maybe that’s where Crystal’s character went off track. Instead, I wanted to share how and why I became one in the first place.

I opened the conversation by asking who in the class already knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. It seemed a natural starting point. And sure enough, a few hands determinedly shot way up in the air when I asked. Of course, when I asked the inverse — who wasn’t sure or maybe didn’t have any idea at all yet — hands raised then, too.

From there, I shared my desire to become a paleontologist when I was their age. (Spoiler alert in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I didn’t become one.)

My whole point, the one thing I truly wanted them to take away from my own career journey, is that plans can change. Interests develop where you didn’t necessarily have them. Skills you learn and love might sway you from what you originally had in mind. It’s more than ok to pursue something new. Actually, it’s encouraged.

When I was in fifth grade, there was no such thing as Salesforce or marketing automation. How would I have even identified that as a career for myself? What new, rapidly advancing thing (ahem, AI...) could be out there (it’s AI) that will rock their world like marketing rocks mine?

A number of students in the different sessions wanted to know what I loved most about my job. It’s a pretty tough question to answer because I could have filled the entire school day with answers to that one question alone.

I love getting to share my colleagues’ stories of success. They’ve helped Habitat for Humanity automate processes, saving money and people power so Habitat can connect more families with new homes in North Carolina.

My colleagues have implemented powerful tools for companies that have affected the bottom line in the best possible way. And they’re constantly delivering value to other organizations, helping them think about why, and giving before we get. They make my job as a marketer so easy and joyful — they are expert Salesforce problem solvers who’ve helped so many organizations achieve their big goals.

Students also wanted to know what my workspace was like. Aside from the physical aspects, Cloud Giants is also an organization that truly uses its Core Values to guide culture and company decisions. That’s pretty major. I’ll never forget sitting in on my first quarterly meeting and being amazed at the efficiency and purpose with which it was run. It was a game changer.  

And then, of course, there’s our origin story. It’s incredibly rare for a tech organization to have a woman in a position of leadership, let alone as many as we have at Cloud Giants. The fact that we started at CEO and Founder Kelly Pfrommer’s dining room table and have outgrown a number of offices in RTP is such a compelling and cool story.

Representation like this matters, so when I had to choose just one thing I loved most to share with the students, this was it.

One student’s eyes got so wide when I said shared this with her class. That look alone made my whole week.  

For Billy Crystal’s character, Career Day was absolute drudgery. For me, it was a great opportunity to take stock of the work I get to do, the journey that brought me to it, and the amazing people who make it possible.

I’m so grateful to have been nominated as a volunteer for the event by school staff and hope the fifth graders had as much fun as I did during the event. I look forward to welcoming them into the workforce in 12 years or so, maybe when I’m in the midst of my own City Slickers-style mid-life adventure someday.