My Active-Reserve Military Job and a Civilian Job Are Intertwined: Here’s How I Balance It All

Sponsored by Alteryx

Katie Ferencik. Photo courtesy of Alteryx.

Katie Ferencik. Photo courtesy of Alteryx.

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July 15, 2024 at 8:31PM UTC

As a Reservist, Katie Ferencik’s military job is intertwined with her civilian job as a Strategic Customer Success Manager at Alteryx. While both roles are important to her, holding two positions is not without challenge.

“Being a Reservist is tricky because we have a duty to perform for our country, but we also must perform for our employers,” she explains. “We are required to do our best in both situations and strive to be excellent “employees” of both. We have a foot in both worlds, and it is a very complex and delicate situation at times.”

For example, unlike her non-military coworkers, Ferencik notes that she will often be out of the office more due to things like needing a certain level of “readiness” for her Reservist position. These activities can often be done on weekends but may require the use of PTO, such as two to four weeks per year for training — and additional time off if she is deployed, Ferencik explains.

“The challenge of time is a tricky one because it can be difficult to find an understanding company,” says Ferencik. “Ultimately, communication is the most important thing. I’ve found that being upfront about the requirements for the year (to the greatest extent possible) is most helpful. Sometimes surprises are unavoidable, unfortunately, so we must communicate any potential absences from work with our supervisors as they come up, even if there’s only a slim chance that the absence will happen. It’s always best to over communicate!”

And this communication must go both ways, too! “In my current military role, I have had times when I’ve not been able to perform my duties because of demands coming from my civilian job,” shares Ferencik. “So, keeping my military supervisor informed of what’s upcoming is also of extreme importance.”

Thankfully for Ferencik, her current company, Alteryx, truly supports her and her work — both within and outside the company. “From my very first discussion with the recruiter, the company culture has been (and continues to be) about the benefits of diversity,” notes Ferencik. “My military background was seen as a positive, desirable aspect of what I would be bringing to the company, in addition to my hard and soft skillsets. My colleagues at Alteryx are so incredibly genuine, with big hearts, and I’ve found common ground with them in serving with empathy and kindness.”

“Alteryx is a very welcoming environment where you can be vulnerable,” Ferencik tells us. “I’ve never seen or experienced anything like this before, but it’s incredible and so powerful. I can be who I am — I can succeed and I can struggle, and I know that I have a team of people who are rooting for each other.”

Here, Ferencik took the time out of her busy schedule to tell us more about her work, her best advice for veterans, and more!

To start, can you tell us a bit about your job at Alteryx. How were you onboarded into the company?

My daily duties at Alteryx are different nearly every day! I love that aspect of the job, but I also like to have some form of regularity as well. I start my mornings out by checking the Teams Channels for updates and then going through my emails. I like to address everything that I can while it’s still early, in an effort to have a fairly empty email inbox.

I work very closely with my team, keeping myself updated on the latest that Alteryx has to offer, plus learning the ropes of how to serve my accounts. The best part of working at Alteryx has been the generous amount of time and space given for onboarding! My second week on the job was interesting, as the company had a week-long shutdown for mental health, ultimately giving extra time off for employees to spend with families or doing something that they enjoy. What an introduction to come into the company and almost immediately have some time off.

Onboarding is taken very seriously, and there’s a prescribed pathway that is taken by new employees, along with a generous amount of time to complete it before taking on customers. For example, I completed certifications, which are designed to teach and then test your ability to speak about Alteryx’s features and capabilities, to use its products as part of a complex solution, and to conduct a working session with a customer.

We are also required to take and pass the Core and Advanced training modules available on the Alteryx community — the very same ones we encourage our customers to take! During this time, we are also encouraged to shadow our teammates while they are working within their accounts, so that, when we finally get our last certification, it’s off to the races with our new accounts.

The learning doesn’t stop here either. We are continually challenged with increasing our knowledge in a variety of areas — the company is extremely interested in not only retention, but growth as well, and that is apparent in the opportunities afforded to us.

Do you believe that your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid in your career today?

Yes, it’s given me experience in accountability and leadership at every step of the way, which has prepared me for the same here at Alteryx. Through my experience in the military, I’ve learned skills that are valuable in a corporate setting: working in teams, doing your best in everything, striving for proficiency while also developing your team, being organized, prioritization of tasks, and being tenacious.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for veterans, and especially other women veterans, who are looking for jobs right now?

Military roles tend to be very broad with lots of responsibilities across a lot of areas, whereas civilian roles tend to be very specific. So, I would recommend that you focus on areas that you both enjoy and have skills and experience in. Then, get certifications (or a degree, if necessary) to bring you up to speed in that area. In many cases, something that is a special or additional duty in the military is a single role within a civilian company, so focus on those areas where you have previously found to be highly interested and naturally engaged.

If you’re a Reservist, you’re probably already finding it a bit easier to relay your military skills into “civilian” speak, so that employers can understand what you bring to the table. If you’re coming from active duty, this likely will be more foreign to you, but it’s imperative that you’re able to make the translation. Luckily, there exist multiple platforms available to you at no cost to help you with this!

Military OneSource is probably the most recognizable and well-known platform to help with all things military, but each military installation has an office that exists purely to assist with your transition into civilian life. Check out this resource for more information on how to find the installation.

Good luck, and remember to use your skills and values learned in the military. Be humble and brave, and you’ll find the right fit in no time at all! 

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