During the COVID-19 pandemic, Yesenia Rivera (pictured above left) and Caroline Richards (pictured above right) transitioned into new roles at SoFi. Both started their SoFi careers in Operations, a division of SoFi committed to helping employees with career growth, while providing industry-leading customer support to the company’s 1.8+ million members. Today, Yesenia is a Program Manager on the Employee Experience team, and Caroline works on the Creative team as a Project Manager. They recently shared with Fairygodboss their experiences taking on new jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the company supported them through their change in roles.
What are your priorities in your role?
Caroline: I’m the administrator for our project management software, helping marketing project managers utilize the tool to make their jobs easier.
Yesenia: My main priorities include developing and facilitating new-hire onboarding for all employees across SoFi and Galileo (a payment processing solutions platform company SoFi acquired in 2020), leading our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), known internally as SoFi Circles, and collaborating on strategic efforts to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are prioritized across the organization.
What were the most appealing aspects of these jobs?
Caroline: I love SoFi and learned a lot in my past role, but I’ve been in Operations for about 10 years. Last year, I worked with the Director of Creative Operations on a company culture project, and she mentioned an opening on her team. I asked her to give me a chance. I was excited to learn something new and work with an awesome female leader and creative team.
Yesenia: My passion for my work stems from three objectives that inspired me to pivot: the opportunity to propel DEI in strategic efforts across the organization, being a positive vehicle for change that can actively support underrepresented communities, whilst creating inspiring, engaging and informative experiences for our SoFi community.
Tell me a bit about your first day or week in the new job. What kinds of things made you feel comfortable?
Caroline: Although I’d been with SoFi for a while, I hadn’t met most of my new team in person. We do daily check-ins, which helps a lot. It’s nice to put names to faces and see what you have in common. We also do virtual happy hours when someone new joins the team.
Yesenia: Starting anything new can come with discomfort. The team I was joining was incredibly supportive. The collaboration and passion were tangible, and helped create a dynamic onboarding experience.
What’s something most job seekers don’t know about SoFi that they should?
Caroline: We’re really different from an old-school finance company. We focus a lot on inclusion. Our CEO is transparent and updates the entire company on where we’re at every week. It’s an amazing place to work.
Yesenia: In my experience, most organizations were not fundamentally built with diversity in mind. SoFi sets itself apart by not only prioritizing DEI in our culture, but redefining the narrative of what DEI advocacy looks like.
What opportunities did SoFi provide that helped you land your role?
Caroline: I was selected to be on the OneSoFi team, which is a group of volunteers who act as culture champions and assist the People team with their employee experience initiatives. SoFi sent me from Utah to San Francisco twice to participate in events where the group brainstormed ideas on how to improve culture and developed project plans to bring those ideas to life. This was a huge opportunity for me to network, and it’s actually where I met my current manager!
Yesenia: Being able to play a substantial role in fostering ERG growth in my previous role encouraged me to pursue further strategic inclusivity efforts across the entire SoFi culture. Working with our ERGs first as a volunteer helped provide me with leadership, programming, and strategic-thinking experiences outside of my typical function that further directed me into my work and what I wanted in my career.
A lot of people believe that developing your career means changing companies. What has enabled you to advance your career?
Caroline: Networking within your company, volunteering for projects, participating in company events and working toward new positions (even laterally) to broaden your skill set are all ways to develop your career. I left a big company prior to SoFi that wasn’t a fit for me after only a few months. I’ve been super happy at SoFi. Don’t be afraid to leave a company that doesn’t value you.
Yesenia: Advocates! Showcasing hard work by mastering your current role and creating authentic relationships with individuals across the organization. These diverse ways of thinking gave me the foundation to understand the necessity of seeking out mentorship and learning from interactions. Having people in my corner advocating for me is essential!
What do you believe is the #1 thing managers must do when onboarding employees? How did your manager support you?
Caroline: It generally involves building rapport and trust. If I trust my manager, I can be direct about what support I need and want their feedback. My manager made me feel comfortable when I was stumbling through my first week. I was nervous, but she gave me reassurance, always made time for me and answered my questions. I felt supported, and it helped me become self-sufficient quickly.
Yesenia: The gifts of time, transparency and rapport-building. As a new team member, it can be very overwhelming to deal with different emotions. Managers should remember these emotional variables when bringing new team members up to speed. Check in with your employee. Ask them questions. Allow safe spaces for them to ask questions in return. Be transparent in your expectations, and set the stage for trust via rapport. My own team emphasizes these components from day one.
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