Kalyn Hutchinson of the National Basketball Association is a big movie fan.
“I love a good rom-com, but I'm also a big Marvel person,” says Kalyn, who doesn’t miss a chance to watch the latest in The Avengers series. “As soon as a new Marvel movie comes out, I'm in line trying to buy tickets.”
When she is not watching the big screen, Kalyn takes The Avengers’ team-focused approach to her work at the NBA or is making an impact within her community.
“I do a lot of volunteer work around homelessness, domestic violence, and child abuse,” says Kalyn. “I'm involved in passion programs across my home city of Chicago and here in my current home city of New York.”
Her desire to give back to the community parallels the work she does at the NBA. As a Director of Team Marketing and Business Operations and the co-chair of Dream in Color (the NBA’s Black Employee Resource Group), Kalyn makes it a point to make an impact both on and off the court. We sat down with her to learn about her career journey and tips for creating a well-rounded career.
Turning 2 Passions into a Career
For Kalyn, basketball is more than just a sport.
“I played basketball my whole life,” recalls Kalyn. “It is a huge part of my family. Growing up, everything we did was centered around the sport.”
Pursuing a sports-related career was always in the back of her mind, but when Kalyn went to the University of Illinois in Champaign, another career option surfaced.
“I thought I wanted to be a creative writer,” says Kalyn, who graduated with a degree in Communications. Luckily, there was a route for her that could combine her passions for sports and writing.
“I thought, ‘Why not sports public relations?’,” says Kalyn. “I could put my passions together and bridge the gap there.”
With her new career objective in mind, Kalyn started working in the men's basketball office for the Fighting Illini to gain exposure in the sports business field, and after that started looking for opportunities in professional sports.
“During my senior year of college, I came across an internship with the Chicago Bulls. It was a PR and Marketing position with the Bulls/Sox Training Academy,” recalls Kalyn about her 10-month long experience which set her on her course in professional sports.
However, the ever-changing demands of the sports industry meant making some overwhelming changes.
“Sports public relations is incredibly competitive, especially when you're not ready to move around and go to a new city,” Kalyn elaborates. “And, at that time, I just knew that Chicago was where I wanted to be.”
So instead of taking a step backward, she pivoted into a new field within the industry.
“Someone suggested the inside sales program with the Chicago Bulls.” says Kalyn about her next career decision. ‘‘’You're a great writer. You are a great communicator. Why not try sales?’ And that is exactly what I did.”
Pivoting from PR to Sales
Pivoting into sales helped Kalyn better utilize the talents and skills she had acquired throughout her career.
“I think oftentimes we get set in stone only wanting to do one thing, but we all possess such unique talents and ideas that we can bring to any position,” Kalyn advises.
Because of her flexibility, she continued to step outside of her comfort zone, which included the risky step of joining the Chicago Bulls’ G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls.
“Not many people raised their hands to join the G League,” she shares. “I was often asked, ‘Why would you leave the Bulls to go to the minor leagues?’”
But for Kalyn, career growth was at the front of her mind, so putting herself in a position where she knew she could learn more and be invested in the business proved to be the right move. Stepping into her new role with the G League helped her to gain leadership skills. With a small team of around 10 people, Kalyn noticed a need to add more diversity to the company.
“There weren't that many women when we first started the team,” Kalyn shares. “I was the only woman on staff, and I made it my priority to hire more women.”
Since then, equity and inclusion have been a top priority in Kalyn’s career — a shared interest of her current employer, the NBA.
Taking Her Shot at the NBA
Kalyn’s leadership skills and work with the G League in Chicago caught the attention of a mentor, Justin Gurney, Executive Vice President of Partner Success at FEVO.
“He thought I was doing a great job building Windy City’s brand and shared that there was an opening within team marketing and business operations, and that I’d be a great fit,” she shares.
After careful consideration, Kalyn accepted the position and made the move to New York to work for the NBA as part of its Team Marketing & Business Operations team under the direction of the highly-respected President of Team Marketing & Business Operations and Chief Innovation Officer Amy Brooks. A bulk of Kalyn’s work involves being the liaison between sports teams and the league business.
“The NBA is the brand and teams are its entity,” explains Kalyn “We serve as a consulting group where we bridge the gap between NBA business and the teams.”
Her work also focuses on bringing in new fans.
“Some people may not be huge basketball fans, but we organize activations in arenas that might entice those individuals to come out to a game in the future,” says Kalyn. “My goal is to create best practices around bringing fans into our facilities.”
Working at the NBA has also provided Kalyn with a more diverse workspace.
“Right now, about 43 percent of our professionals at the NBA are women, that's the highest it's been in decades,” says Kalyn.
Making an Impact with Dream in Color
Diversity and inclusion are big parts of the NBA’s mission, which is why programs, such as Dream in Color, exist. Dream in Color celebrates and promotes the diverse talents of the NBA's Black employees through professional development initiatives and community service.
Kalyn was introduced to this group shortly after joining the League Office.
“I don't have any family in New York and didn’t have a lot of friends on the east coast,” she says. “Another mentor of mine, Mike Taylor [Associate Vice President at the NBA], suggested joining Dream in Color for the social aspect. It was my saving grace. Dream in Color was an opportunity for me to go to social events, but also network and have career discussions. It was an excellent way for me to get to know folks.”
Beyond networking, Dream in Color supports social issues both in and outside of the company.
“All the societal issues that we face, Dream in Color taps into a lot of that,” Kalyn explains. “I knew I wanted to be involved and make change across sports, which is what motivated me to become the co-chair of Dream in Color for the last two years.”
And within that time, she has seen the organization expand and include ERGs focused on other groups of people.
“We have lots of different ERGs — there’s NBA Pride, our Women's Network, Young Professionals,” she elaborates. “For every demographic you can think of, we really are trying to create safe spaces for people and help them advance.”
Advice on Creating a Well-Rounded Career
Kalyn has a passion for creating positive change both inside and outside of her work. For those looking to create a more rounded and expansive career, Kalyn offers this advice.
- Give yourself grace. “Stretch yourself, but not too much. It is good to get involved in different initiatives, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. Women are superheroes. It is important to give yourself some grace.”
- Volunteer in spaces you're curious about. “It doesn't mean that you have to take a full-time position or that you have to do something as a side hustle,” Kalyn states. She recommends dabbling in different spaces and getting involved in conversations that will get you out of your comfort zone. “You never know what opportunities can come to you when you just raise your hand.”
- Allow yourself room to grow. “There's so much that we can explore and do. Try to tap into things that you don't normally do.”
If you’re looking to grow in company that believes in supporting its employees, both personally and professionally, check out the open positions at the NBA.
Tiffany Witwer from Elastic is a proud mom of three.
“I enjoy being a parent because it teaches me patience and it gives me a different perspective,” she shares. “It allows me to be more present, laugh more, and appreciate the small things.”
In between her duties as a mom, she keeps herself mentally and physically healthy by running, biking, swimming, or doing yoga — all activities that help her start the day with gratitude. "It gives me the right perspective and attitude to go into the day,” she says.
With an overall positive outlook on life, Tiffany brings that same energy to her customers at work as the Head of Customer Service for Elastic.
We sat down with Tiffany, who shared with us her career journey from civil engineering to customer service. Keep reading to learn top tips for creating happy customers.
Starting a Career in Engineering
Tiffany pursued an undergraduate degree in biological engineering.
“I was always really good at math and science, especially chemistry. And I love being outside in nature and learning about it,” she shares.
It was a college professor’s research on stormwater runoff that motivated her to pursue her master's degree in biological and civil engineering. “I liked his energy and attitude toward learning. It was contagious,” she describes.
While working alongside this professor at North Carolina State University, she presented her work at a conference that helped lay the groundwork for her career. “I met a man who liked my presentation," she says, "and was hiring a civil engineer for a consulting company.”
Taking on this new opportunity, she moved to New York City where she discovered her love of being surrounded by diverse people and cultures, in addition to her new job.
“I enjoyed doing the design work and meeting the customers,” she explains. "I was always the one on the proposals, winning the design work, and building relationships with customers.”
While emerging in the complex realm of storm waste engineering, Tiffany saw how the world was progressing and thought that knowing software and technology would be beneficial.
“So I learned to code, networked, and got a job at a business analytics and software company as a pre-sales systems engineer,” Tiffany says.
Pivoting into a Customer Success Role
As she dedicated more time to customers, her interest in working with them soon began to increase. “What I loved most was that I was using my mind to solve problems, but I also got to interface with customers. I got to meet customers and hear what they were doing and hear how we could help them.”
Tiffany spent 10 years in pre-sales engineering and sales. She then took a job in a different company where she helped build out their advisory services business.
It was there that she built a successful team with coworkers who would lead her to her position at Elastic.
Elastic is the leading platform for search-powered solutions. They help enhance customer and employee search experiences, keep mission-critical applications running smoothly, and protect against cyber threats.
As the Head of Customer Service, Tiffany is responsible for making sure customers are getting the most value out of their software. "It's not only about how customers are using the technology," she explains. "It’s, ‘how is a customer's experience with Elastic? Are we meeting their need for technology?’ And, ‘are we meeting their needs from a support and empathy standpoint?’”
In order to meet her customers’ complex needs, she emphasizes how crucial communication is.
The Importance of Communication in Customer Success
Quality communication is a skill that can often be undervalued. “I think people underestimate how much time is needed for clear communication,” she points out. “Just because you put a message out there, it doesn't mean it’s clearly understood. You need to think through how people are going to respond to the information.”
With the complexities of communication, Tiffany relies on setting clear intentions when communicating in meetings. “I always ask at the beginning, ‘what is your goal for this meeting and what does success look like for you?’" she explains.
Communicating clearly what success looks like for both parties allows for a better outcome. “I think for communications, it's making a lot of time and clearly defining what you want to get out of the interaction.”
Advice for Clear Communication with Customers
Tiffany’s career journey has been a mixture of understanding technology and building relationships with people — learning how to explain the technology to customers and problem solve in an empathic way. This has led to overall customer success. To create clear communication, Tiffany offers this advice.
- Be empathetic and listen to your customers: “If you think about it, you've been trained in your technology, you know it inside and out,” she explains. "But when you meet with a customer, the technology may only be a small part of their job.” Taking this perspective can help you to communicate with more empathy. “It's understanding people's vantage point and then using that to communicate to them.”
- Defining success and clearly communicating it: “I'm a strong believer in getting on calls and confirming the goals and what people want to get out of the call," Tiffany shares. "This way, you know, you are aligned on what success is no matter what type of call.”
- Be genuine: “At the end of the day, people will remember how you made them feel," she shares. "I think for me, it's about being a good human and making the world a better place. And if you can do that in your job as well, that's a win-win.”
- Get to know people: “Getting to know people, their perspectives, and growing with them is what has led me to customer success and to where I am in my career,” Tiffany advises.
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
Josephine Roh loves brunch. Particularly hosting it — and bringing special dishes to life to share with her friends.
The latest recipe she’s mastered is for lemon ricotta pancakes.
Cooking is part art and part science, which might be why the senior technical writer for fintech platform Moov is such a big fan of it.
“I’ve always liked using both sides of my brain,” says Josephine, who studied English literature in college, in line with her right-brain strengths, but also added an economics major to sharpen the analytical left side of her brain. She credits this double-barreled approach with setting her up well for her current career.
“It prepared me to be a holistically well-rounded person when it comes to how I think and work,” she says.
We sat down with Josephine to hear more about how she found her way into a career in technical writing, as well as the tips and tricks she has for people interested in following in her footsteps.
A Career Exploration
Josephine started her tech career in customer success at an edtech startup. “It was great training because at a startup you wear lots of hats,” she recalls, noting experiences in user research and operations. After trying a more quantitative-heavy role that gave her exposure to fintech, she realized she wanted something more creative, with an innovative, distributed company.
That’s how she found Moov.
“I was looking for a place with a remote-first culture, and Moov stood out. Some places were hybrid, or said, ‘Maybe we’ll go back to the office,’ but Moov originated without an office and intended to stay that way,” she says. “But I didn’t want it to just be remote — I also wanted it to be very human.”
To Josephine, that meant a culture of coworkers getting to know each other, respecting each other, and caring about each other — which is how she’s experienced Moov’s culture.
“There’s a lot of mutual understanding,” she says. “Something kind of sweet Moov does is this monthly “unbemoovable” meeting where someone shares their story, with pictures, to the extent that they want to. We’ve heard a lot of nontraditional, exciting stories, including from career switchers, and it lends itself to an angle of diversity and creativity that feels like a very healthy, human-first culture.”
Her first few months on the job were spent learning about the product, coming up the curve on technical writing, and pulling together documentation. After finishing the first set of docs, Josephine decided to start focusing on making Moov’s documentation better.
Her manager saw and appreciated Josephine’s initiative and promoted her to senior technical writer, which made her feel like she had chosen the right environment for her growth.
“Moov has let me run with this, building our docs from the ground up because there wasn’t red tape. There weren’t people standing in my way saying, ‘No, this is not how you do it.’ Me being comfortable with that ambiguity and trusting that people like my manager were supporting me, allowed me to be able to grow in my career to where I am now,” she says.
Technical Writing: An Intro and 5 Tips
Josephine explains what technical writing is by referencing a multi-layered puzzle. “You have to understand a certain level of technical stuff, then be able to build a translation layer and explain it in a way that anyone can understand,” she says.
“It’s about writing guides and documents that help developers implement or integrate with different software. It requires some level of knowledge of how developers think and speak, as well as the tools that they're going to be using to make things happen.” That can take the form of API-heavy reference documents, which are more technical, or more “prose-y guides” that explain more holistically what a feature is and how to use it.
Here’s what Josephine recommends to others interested in the field:
- Make sure you have the right skill set. “Tech writing is good for folks who like writing, and don't mind writing about things that they don't yet understand, who are comfortable with ambiguity or diving into the challenge of learning something new and very specific.” Other key skills, per Josephine: interviewing, talking to people, process management, research, relationship building, editing, writing (duh!), and empathy (to imagine the final product from different audiences’ points of view).
- Brush up on key tools. “I’d recommend that future tech writers learn the suite of tools they’d work with. It’s almost imperative that you would know Markdown, which is kind of like HTML, but it's the language that formats text. It’s what most tech writers type in, basically. It would be good to know how API references are generated, too, and also helpful to know how to work with GitHub.”
- Interview other tech writers! “People are super open to talking about their experiences and because it's different at every company, you may want to get a more holistic perspective and talk to a couple of people. The company really makes or breaks your experience.”
- Practice, practice, practice. “Look at the world of open source. If you want hands-on experience, look for a project with incomplete documentation and ask the owner if you can help with documenting it!”
- Find communities to learn with. Josephine says that the online technical writing community is active and generous. “There are communities for any question you might have about tech writing, as well as free resources. I definitely recommend them.” As far as specific resources and communities go, Josephine personally suggests the following:
- Google’s Technical Writing Courses
- Git and its own reference documents
- The Product is Docs: Writing technical documentation in a product development group, a book by the Splunk Documentation Team
- The Write The Docs Slack community, with job postings, recommendations, and channels for sharing other resources
💎To make a successful career move, you need to follow some steps. Watch the video to the end to get ideas on how to achieve it!
📼Wondering how to make a non-traditional career move? Play this video to get three top tips that will guide you through the process. You'll hear from Lindsay Syhakhom, Cloud Solutions Architect at Logicworks, who shares her own experience in moving from a non-technical role into a technical role.
📼 Make a career move inside your company! Tip #1: Cross team boundaries. Volunteer for tasks that cross teams at your current organization. A lot of people assume that to change careers, they also have to change employers. And that's not always the case. You can lay the foundation at your current job for the career that you want to have. Look for teams in your organization that either partially align or even fully align to the position that you want. And then think of creative ways to interface with that team.
📼 Make a career move using your institutional knowledge! Tip #2: Become the expert. If you are applying to another team in your same company, one of the advantages to your company hiring you versus hiring somebody else is that you know what the company sells, you know how teams function and take seriously that that institutional knowledge is very important. Every company has its quirks. Knowing those things is going to help you when you're applying for the next job.
Make A Career Move Confidently! - Tip #3: Ask For What You Want
Before she applied to become a cloud solutions architect, Lindsay Syhakhom had conversations with members of her team and reached out to people on other teams at Logicworks that she really trusted and had the conversation with them first. This helped take the edge off of her first conversation with HR, and with a hiring manager about her desire to move into this other field, and get their feedback. Remember that you have to apply for the job. No one can read your mind and know that you want to make this non-traditional career move!
📨 Are you interested in joining Logicworks? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Lindsay Syhakhom
If you are interested in a career at Logicworks, you can connect with Lindsay on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Logicworks
Logicworks helps customers migrate, run, and operate mission-critical workloads on AWS and Azure with security, scalability, and efficiency baked in. Their Cloud Reliability Platform combines world-class engineering talent, policy-as-code, and integrated tooling to enable customers to confidently meet compliance regulations, security requirements, cost control, and high availability.