Job hopping can be a valuable means of career growth; there’s no denying that working in different roles and in different environments can help you pave the path that’s best for you. But job hopping from employer to employer isn’t always the answer to achieving a meaningful career.
Take it from Tina Kit, a Product Manager at AppNexus, a Xandr company. In her five years at the company she’s shifted roles various times, and she credits her professional success and satisfaction to the fact that she’s been able to grow and change while working at one particular company.
“The first conversation I had in a 1:1 with my manager when I first joined AppNexus was, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’” Kit explains. “Having him ask me that was great in that it showed I was not just another cog in a wheel, but also because it opened up the floor for me to have an honest conversation about my goals and what skills I wanted to develop.”
Kit recently spoke to Fairygodboss about how transparency has been a key factor in her job satisfaction and shared the most memorable piece of career of advice she’s received.
How long have you been with AppNexus? What about the company made you first want to join?
I have been here for a little over 5 years now. I had spoken with a few engineers and a recruiter at a career fair and it sounded like it would be a great place to really grow professionally. Turns out, my hypothesis was true; in my five years here, I started as an Engineering Quality Analyst and eventually moved into a Product Manager role.
Tell me about the roles that you’ve held at AppNexus, as well as your current one. What about this role most excites you?
I started off as a Testing Analyst for our Engineering Quality team. On this team, I grew to Senior Analyst and eventually Team Lead. In July of 2017, I joined our video team as a Product Manager. It has been exciting since video is a new frontier for a lot of people, including me, and it’ll be exciting to see how we get ahead in the video game.
What’s something you’re especially good at at work?
I’m planner, and I love organizing things (outings, events, backlogs, sprints…the list goes on). With that said, it has been such a hard thing to unlearn for product. While an aspect of product management is project management, I have had to learn that things might not always go according to plan, and it’s how you react to this that matters.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
The first thing I do is make a to-do list prioritized by projects. The last thing is see how much I checked off that to-do list.
A lot of people believe that developing your career means changing companies, and not infrequently. What has enabled you to develop/advance your career without job hopping?
The first conversation I had in a 1:1 with my manager when I first joined AppNexus was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Having him ask me that was great in that it showed I was not just another cog in a wheel, but also because it opened up the floor for me to have an honest conversation about my goals and what skills I wanted to develop.
This allowed us to work together to figure out what projects I could work on while still contributing to the team as an Analyst. If your manager hasn’t asked you this question, this might be something you could consider bringing up in your next 1:1.
Moreover, there are probably so many people at your company who could potentially be great resources or mentors for getting career advice. Talk to people about their background and find out how they grew into the role they are in today. This was definitely the first step in me figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Ultimately, what has led you to stay at AppNexus?
The transparency around growth opportunities and the encouragement to pursue those opportunities has been key. I don’t think the process was easy by any means (I had interviewed for a product role at the company twice before), but having the support there alone was great.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about AppNexus that you think they should?
AppNexus has invested a lot of resources into its affinity groups, and overall, it has been amazing to be able to be a part of one of our affinity groups. I think things can always improve, but providing resources for and support to marginalized folks within the community is definitely a good step toward creating an environment that is inclusive.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
I’ve been fortunate at AppNexus in that every manager I have had has been trusting, but more importantly, I never felt as if I was their minion, but rather a peer.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Figure out your strengths and use them. In contrast, lean on those who have skills opposite of your strengths. (I think to do this you also have to be willing to be self-reflective and admit to what you aren’t good at).
I’m the worst offender of this in that when I am not good at something, I will harp on that forever and try to improve it. However, sometimes I should learn to let the experts do what they are good at and when my expertise is needed, I will be there to help.
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