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Finding Confidence in the Face of Change: A CareerCircle Career Journey

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After a teenage dream of becoming a forensic psychologist, Nykyta Arnold, Product Owner and Business Analyst here at CareerCircle, switched gears in college.

Being an athlete (she played soccer and was a cheerleader) she was pretty immersed in the exercise science and kinesiology world so when she transferred to Georgia State, she declared her major as Kinesiology.

Kinesiology is a more medical-focused course and Nykyta ended up taking courses in subjects like neuroscience and cardiopulmonary sciences. “A lot of people who have a Bachelor’s go on to be a physician’s assistant or they go into nursing. And it began to feel like the right path for me so I fully intended to go into the healthcare field,” she shared when asked about her early career aspirations. After getting her undergraduate degree, she worked in a hospital and began getting her hours to become a physician’s assistant. Before long, she got accepted to graduate school.

Then life threw her a curveball.

When a Graduate Student Becomes a Working Mom

In the semester that grad school was due to start, she found out she was pregnant with her oldest child.

While her school was in New York, her family and her support were in Georgia so she decided to take a break and stay in Georgia.

“It’s a very hands-on program, but I took what I could online after he was born. But then I became a single mom. When that happened, I realized that working 12 hours in a hospital and doing what I had to do to succeed in the medical field wasn’t going to work for me as a single parent.”

She ended up moving in with her parents and was working multiple jobs to make enough to support herself and her son. “I started working at doctor’s offices and places here and there. I had, three part-time jobs to equate to enough money and I just finally got to the point where I needed one job with set hours and benefits. My brother-in-law was working at a staffing firm at the time and he ended up introducing me to this whole new career path.”

A tip for you: Never underestimate the power of your network. The people you surround yourself with could be the key to your next career path. Talk with the people in your life about what they do for work and how they like it and be honest with them about what you’re looking for. You never know what doors it could open for you!

While she was working at a staffing firm in Georgia, her territory was actually in Texas so she had to build relationships virtually with her clients in order to be successful.

“This is the most important part of my journey because I look back on it and it makes me really proud. My pay was $500 a week before taxes. As a single parent, I was coming home with essentially nothing, but we had uncapped commissions. I knew that I had to work really hard in order to do what I needed to do.”

But Nykyta is particularly skilled in working hard and making things happen. “So technically with a $500 a week salary, I was making $26,000 annually. But by the end of my first year, I had actually made $75,000. It was 2016 and it was the most money I had ever made in my life.”

That was when she realized that she was really good at this.

Since then she has worked in the staffing industry in a few different positions. She began working with MSPs (Managed Service Programs, essentially outsourced management of contingent workforces) and moved into positions, like Strategic Manager, where she was managing people as well as programs.

Understanding and Enforcing Boundaries at Work

While Nykyta is skilled at making things work on the job, there is one role that left her reeling.

“When I was brought into one particular company, I was told to manage an account that already had a great relationship. When I got there, there was actually no relationship at all. Nobody had heard of the company I was working for. The client contact I had been given wasn’t even with the company. When I approached leadership about it, I was essentially told that it was actually my job to make a relationship.”

That was easier said than done. It was the midst of 2020 and, as many of us remember, business relationships, sales, and hiring were at a standstill.

“I felt like I got set up where I was never going to be able to succeed. There were major metrics and goals that I was given to hit, but then no support or resources to hit those goals.”

But it was more than that that led Nykyta to leave that role.

“They hired somebody that ended up making a couple of sexist comments about women. I told HR about it and they had a talk with him, but the comments continued. The final straw was when he made a comment about my natural hair as a Black woman.”

She was able to find a new role before she left, but she continued to share her concerns with the company up until her exit.

“I felt so off-kilter at that time because I didn’t know if I was being too sensitive or if I should have stuck it out for longer, but then a couple of months after I left, some people on the management team reached out to me to apologize for how they handled the situation. I felt really validated and it helped me to see that it’s always the right thing to say something even if it feels uncomfortable in the moment.”

A tip for you: Sexist and racist comments are never welcome and standing and speaking up when someone says something offensive is the right thing to do. It will likely be uncomfortable and could leave you feeling vulnerable, but there are resources to support you. If you need suggestions for how to call someone out (or apologize if you say something offensive), check out this blog post.

Her Path to Product Management

Thankfully, she didn’t have to stay in a troublesome role for long. She ended up making another shift when she began working as a Customer Success Manager at HiringSolved, a software tool that used AI to help search ATSs more effectively. “I had never worked in Customer Success before, but the stars really aligned. I understood staffing so it was really easy for me to advocate for the customer’s needs. Inadvertently, that role set me up for my job here at CareerCircle.”

As a Customer Success Manager, Nykyta went above and beyond and not only provided support to customers but also played a key role in working with the development team to guide the software development toward the goals of its users.

Here at CareerCircle, she works as a link between the development and business teams to make sure that our platform is meeting the needs and goals of all of our users, both hiring teams and candidates. She gathers requests, maps them to the skills and bandwidth of the team, arranges timelines and roadmaps, and more.

A tip for you: You may be preparing for your next role right now and not even realize it. Think about the extra tasks that you take on or the projects that spark the best work from you. When you’re ready for the next step in your career journey, consider how those projects could be a career.

While it’s still a new role for her, she is taking each day as she always has: An opportunity to learn something new and do something different.

While Nykyta has always learned on the job, she is looking into more traditional training opportunities. “I do think I’m going to go for a certificate or do a course because I’ve definitely got the on-the-job training, but I’d like to go back and do a by-the-book training and see how I can merge the two.”

If Nykyta Could Give You One Piece of Advice…

“Don’t be afraid of change. Don’t count yourself out just because you don’t have the experience or you think you’ll mess up. If you have the opportunity to make a change and try something new and it appeals to you, do it.”

She also wants you to remember to have confidence in yourself to figure out what you need to do to be successful. After all, you never know where a change will lead you, but if you can carry confidence, compassion, and inner strength into the workplace, there’s no doubt you’ll end up in the right place.

If you’re ready to take the next step on your career journey, join the CareerCircle community here

For more career journey stories from the CareerCircle team, check out our posts with Cecily Guggisberg. Daniel Pugh,  and Courtney Remaley.