For most of us, stepping out of our comfort zone — particularly when it comes to our careers — can feel daunting. But according to Tenille Williams, a Custom Interface Specialist at Ultimate Software, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, her no. 1 piece of career advice for job seekers is to push themselves to develop by learning new skills.
Williams is fortunate to work at a company that makes this easy: Ultimate Software is hyper-focused on its employees’ personal and professional growth. “Ultimate has an internal learning system where we can develop ourselves based on the core competencies of the company by reading articles, watching videos, and more,” she explains.
Recently, Williams shared with Fairygodboss how, exactly, Ultimate puts its “People First”; why “going backward” has been her favorite mistake; and how her children inspire her to do the right thing.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’m very new to my current role as a Custom Interface Specialist; I just moved into this role this year. I started at Ultimate Software in January 2017 as a Core Specialist. I was actually in the first group of people to be hired for our new St. Louis office, which was very exciting. Before Ultimate, I was a billing coordinator for about five years.
What’s the first and last thing you do at work every day?
The first and last thing I do at work every day is check my email and team chat for any urgent issues. That way, I can plan for the day, get back to my priority customers, or tie up any loose ends for the day and prepare for the next day.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about Ultimate Software that you think they should?
Most people don’t know about ALL of Ultimate’s awesome benefits. People don’t believe me when I tell them! We have a 45 percent dollar-for-dollar match on our 401(k), unlimited PTO, the flexibility to work from home when needed (as long as your manager is okay with it!), and 100 percent paid healthcare premiums for us and our families—just to name a few. It’s real!
What’s something you’re especially good at at work?
Building relationships with customers. It comes very natural to me and I always try to give them the best experience I can. I love interacting with them on a day-to-day basis and helping them with their issues.
What about outside of work?
I’m good at helping and motivating people in any way I can. I’m working on building a blog called BeYOUtifully Konstructed at beyoukon.com. It’s about self-image. I want to help young girls and women rid self-doubt and stand up against body shaming, bullying, and more. We should know that it’s okay to be different and that we don’t have to look like what the media says we should, or follow the gender-role stereotypes. We were all constructed and created differently for a reason. I love how Ultimate shares the same values of diversity and inclusion. We recently launched U Belong, which is our new internal Diversity, Equality, and Belonging program, and I’m excited to see Ultimate become even more inclusive.
What are you trying to improve on?
I love helping out fellow coworkers, but everyone at work looks at me as their superhero and I don’t ever want to let anyone down. So I’m trying to improve on taking care of me a little more. That’s why I love Ultimate’s wellness benefits like massages onsite, using our treadmill desks at work to get moving, and meeting with Ultimate’s on-staff wellness coach to talk about ways to destress.
What’s your favorite mistake?
As crazy as it sounds…going backward. I feel like I did life a bit backward because I had kids before finishing school or getting married. I don’t regret it at all, though, because my kids molded me to be who I am today. I know they’re watching me, so that helps me always do the right thing because I’m their role model.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
My most recent career move! Moving into a more coding type of role has been my goal for a couple of years. I actually interviewed for my current position at Ultimate last year and didn’t get it. Instead of feeling defeated, I worked harder to achieve my goal. I applied for a program called CoderGirl and was accepted for the SQL (Structured Query Language) track. CoderGirl is part of a nonprofit called LaunchCode that teaches you coding for free. This was my way of getting the additional knowledge I needed to further my career at Ultimate. I reached out to the hiring manager to let him know about my progress. I must have impressed the manager, because soon after, I was able to interview again, and I got the job! I was and still am so happy I was able to develop my skills, and get rewarded for it.
What do you love most about Ultimate Software?
My company follows the “People First” philosophy. They put us first, and we, in turn, put our customers first.
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
I’m currently reading three different books: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, Next Level Thinking by Joel Osteen, and The Wait by DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good. I’m also currently watching all the Marvel movies and shows on Netflix—they are so good!
What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
Step out of your comfort zone by learning new skills! There are so many resources available to help develop yourself, and a lot of people don’t know anything about them. Ultimate has an internal learning system where we can develop ourselves based on the core competencies of the company by reading articles, watching videos, and more. But there are a lot of other resources, like the coding program I mentioned earlier (LaunchCode), that can help you as well.
Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
My kids. I have a 6-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son. They’re still young and innocent and give me advice without even realizing it. They teach me how to love unconditionally because they love me, regardless of my faults and imperfections. If I ever forget something, they don’t get mad. They teach me to forgive and not hold grudges. If I fail, they hold my hand, hug me, and tell me to try again. They cheer for me nonstop, which motivates me to never give up. They’re my biggest fans.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Do what makes you happy.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
Trust. Having an open and trustworthy professional relationship is so important. This boss knew my goals and took it upon themselves to push me and keep me accountable.
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