Her dyslexia led Audible's own Lauren Benton to a love of audiobooks—and her dream job.
Below is an article originally written by Lauren Benton, of PowerToFly Partner Audible. Go Audible's Page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
How do you tell a 9-year-old that she has dyslexia? I don't remember how my mom explained it to me. What I doremember about that day is that I was given a gift. No, this is not where I am going to tell you about how dyslexia has shaped me into the person I am today. (I am saving that for the second paragraph.) My mom gave me the first gift, a stuffed troll doll dressed up in a bat costume. It has blue eyes, green hair, and a black and purple bat costume on. I still have it.
Now I will tell you about the second gift, dyslexia. Being in special English classes until 6th grade, taking Hooked on Phonics for two years, always messing up when reading or writing the characters b, d, p, q, 6, or 9, and almost failing my driver's license test at 16 because I kept turning left when I was told to go right — none of that was a gift. My gifts are my strong public speaking skills, creativity, the ability to laugh, and to forgive small mistakes. Most importantly, dyslexia introduced me to the audiobook.
She said, "Stop telling us about it … and do it." And in a moment, my world changed.
Dyslexia makes reading challenging for me. As much as I loved stories, in school, I always steered away from English and History courses that involved intensive reading lists. For one course, I found myself with 48 hours and more than half of The Grapes of Wrath left to read before a deadline. The Grapes of Wrath is almost 500 pages long, and at my reading pace, completing the book on time was an impossible task. I don't remember how I got the idea, but I ended up at the library and brought home two shoebox-sized boxes of cassette tapes. My first audiobook.
Here comes the swelling of the background music and that ethereal moment in my story where my life is changed forever. The burden of sounding out the words was gone. I was relieved of the frustration and pressure I felt reading, and I was free to enjoy the story. My imagination was consumed with Steinbeck's vivid descriptions of dust and light — all wrapped up in an unforgettable story. I brought my Walkman outside. I did laundry, cleaned my room, and painted my toenails. "Reading" was no longer a laborious chore — it had suddenly become fun and productive.
Fast forward to post-college, when I got my first iPod and downloaded my first audiobooks. I trained for a marathon and literally raced through Moby Dick. I took an outside sales job that required me to drive 4-6 hours each day. The travel quickly became my favorite part of the job, because I filled the time listening to audiobooks. You should have seen the looks I got from the drivers next to me when I was sitting in Chicago summer traffic with the windows down, listening to Fifty Shades of Grey, as Anastasia and Christian went at it in the Red Room. I can still vividly remember what stoplight I was at when Hester Prynne was made to wear that scarlet letter, and what parking lot I was in when I finished listening to (and immediately restarted) The Fault in our Stars.
I listened to everything: Wall Street Journal in the morning, business and sales books during the day, and fiction on the way home. I would ask my customers what they were reading and then would listen to the entire audiobook by the time I met them again later that week. I went from avoiding books to being an audiobookworm who started referencing books in nearly every conversation I had.
Audiobooks allow me to fit so much more learning and exploring into my day. Not only do I listen when I shower, drive, fly, run, shop, and fall asleep, but I listen to almost all of my audiobooks at a 2x or 3x narration speed. Try reading a book that fast!
My passion for audiobooks comes out in almost every conversation I have. Two years ago, I was (once again) singing the format's praises by the poolside on a vacation, when my best friend Della interrupted me, joking that I should be paid for being a walking advertisement. She said, "Stop telling us about it … and do it." And in a moment, my world changed. I needed to get a job selling audiobooks.
As fate would have it, at the time I was listening to Brad Stone's The Everything Store, a great title on the rise of Amazon and a close look at its unique corporate culture. The world depicted in the book inspired me to apply to work at Audible, an Amazon subsidiary. Through listening to the audiobook, I'd learned that at Amazon, new ideas are pitched through "press releases from the future," a future where the proposed new idea has been launched successfully. I had a new idea for Audible, and I wrote up my future press release and emailed it to Audible employees that I'd stalked on LinkedIn. I called and left voicemails and kept following up. The first time that one of the Audible employees returned my call, I was at the airport and missed it! I did not put my phone down again for a week, hoping the employee would call again. Audible eventually invited me to interview for their Business Development team, and now here I am, surrounded by a team of people who share my passion. My favorite part of the job is, still, listening to audiobooks — and Audible's library of more than 180,000 titles is, for me, heaven.
Let's bring this story full circle: I am writing this in February of 2016. It has been 22 years since that fateful day when my mom gave me that troll doll. I can only imagine how worried she was then for how her daughter's education and life would be impacted by dyslexia. Little did she know that one day I would retell the events of that fateful afternoon in a blog post, while working at my dream job … and thanking my dyslexia (and her) for helping to get me here.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of workers have turned to remote work. Before the pandemic in 2019, 22% of employers offered at least some remote work. Now in 2022, that percentage nearly doubled to 40%. The shift to remote work has become beneficial for me and many of my friends who are recent college grads starting their careers. It’s allowed us to dictate our own time and save money from commuting, spend more time with loved ones at home, and have the flexibility to travel and build connections from anywhere. Remote working has also changed how people network for jobs. We have more options now.
Since remote networking is so new, it can be challenging to understand how to do it effectively. Read on to learn my top tips for networking for a remote job.
1. Connect with your high school or college.
The schools you went to want to see you succeed! Connect with old professors, classmates, or alumni on social platforms like PowerToFly or LinkedIn. You can find connections through sports teams, clubs, or topics of interest that will help you build stronger relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice, mentorship, or even introductions.
2. Join a class!
Have you ever had a hobby that you never had the chance to pursue? Coding? Running? Painting? It’s never too late to learn something new. Plus, spending time doing what you love will introduce you to other people who love the same thing. Not only will this help expand your social circle, it can also help your career! Once you feel comfortable, talk to your classmates about your work, and ask them about theirs. The perk of classes like these is that you will build relationships with people from all different career backgrounds which will help you determine your career path, especially if you are looking for a mid-career pivot.
3. Register for the Early Career Summit.
My friends and I are very excited to join PowerToFly’s Early Career Summit this fall to meet the inspiring founders and CEOs of incredibly impactful companies. This is a great opportunity to get useful tips and learn about different perspectives, professions, and topics that you may be interested in.
4. Attend a virtual job fair and connect with leaders who inspire you.
Job fairs are great for meeting people who can be helpful because everyone attending is there to network! Job fairs at PowerToFly are a great place to meet hiring managers and recruiters from our sponsoring companies. If you come prepared with a resume it is an opportunity to make a great first impression with a company. After the virtual job fair, remember to connect with the people who stuck out to you and introduce yourself on PowerToFly or LinkedIn. Make sure to tell the recruiter who you are, and highlight what stood out to you about their talk.
5. Offer to help.
People really value your help (when it‘s needed). If you know someone in your network looking to hire a web designer and you know a great place to find one, don’t be afraid to make the connection! If you see a job opening that would be great for someone in your network, let them know! Helping people in this way will help build your trust and credibility.
Remote networking has its differences from in-person networking, but it has never been easier to have access to social platforms that can help create connections. It will take some creativity and hard work, but once you have the appropriate mindset the options are endless.
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.
💎 Are CallRail's engineering teams the right fit for you? Watch the video to the end to find out!
📼 Engineering teams at CallRail encourage collaboration, communication, and empathy. Ayana Reddick, Senior Software Engineer at CallRail, shares what they are looking for in candidates and tells you why you’ll thrive there.
📼Engineering teams want candidates who have a growth mindset, love to learn, and are really good at communication. They also value team members who are excited about solving problems and working collaboratively. If you think you have what it takes, don't hesitate to apply.
📼At CallRail, engineering teams use Ruby on Rails for their backend, Angular on their frontend, and PostgreSQL for persistent data. They also use Jira for creating and tracking tickets, GitHub for their version control, and AWS for many cloud tools. Get familiar with these resources if you want to join them!
Engineering Teams And Diversity - Company’s Culture
CallRail seeks to hire from underrepresented groups. They pride themselves in selecting from a pool of very diverse candidates. They value the work that people do over their resumes. They encourage people to take their authentic selves to work. And they strive to create a supportive and welcoming environment. For this, they have Employee Resource Groups, that give voice to, provide safe spaces for, and educate the company at large. Some of their ERGs include the Rainbow Coalition, Black and Brown, Women Circle, and more.
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining CallRail? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ayana Reddick
If you are interested in a career at CallRail, you can connect with Ayana on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About CallRail
CallRail is here to bring complete visibility to the marketers who rely on quality inbound leads to measure success. Their customers live in a results-driven world, and giving them a clear view of their digital marketing efforts is the priority for CallRail. They see the opportunities in surfacing and connecting data from calls, forms, and beyond—helping their customers get to better outcomes.
“In my early twenties, I wasn’t the best at saving money. So, when I got the job at Nike and found out a financial coach was offered to me — for free! — I thought, ‘It’s time to be an adult. I should use this service to help me learn how to buy stock, tell me what I’m doing right with my money and where I can improve.’”
That’s Ashlee Bobb, Nike Media and Influencer Relations Manager, on the free, unlimited access to financial coaching offered to every U.S. Nike employee through EY Navigate™. EY coaches are trained on Nike’s benefits and programs, so Ashlee was able to work with her coach on a budget and savings plan utilizing Nike’s 401k match and Employee Stock Purchase Plan – all in one 45-minute session. She left the meeting feeling confident about what her next paycheck would look like and how her money would work for her.
“The EY coaches are really willing to come on the journey with you,” Bobb says, adding that hers was willing to work with the fact that, hey, she’s not going to give up take out, but still wants to save for the future. “The cool thing is I can see how this financial guidance could help me down the road when I decide to get married, buy a house, have a kid. Every Nike employee should take advantage.”Sound like the kind of company you want to be a part of? Check out our open roles on jobs.nike.com