Networking gave Ivan Sanchez an edge to secure a tech role before graduating School16

January 5, 2023

In this interview, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Ivan Sanchez, an alum of our June 2022 cohort who secured a role as a Sales Development Representative before completing the program!

What made you decide to take the plunge and join School16?

I came from the finance industry working for a credit union. I had some good sales experience and was hearing about the great work-life balance that tech offered. Some companies that I worked for previously didn’t have work-life balance and benefits.

When you joined the program, is there a specific moment that stands out as helping your career transition? 

I remember learning the value of networking–and used it to secure my current role in tech sales. I started looking for roles as soon as I entered the program. I got a few referrals and ended up securing the role during the second half of the cohort.

You said that prior to starting your new role you felt like you had an edge against the competition.

I got two cold LinkedIn referrals. I tried to find something that we both had in common, like a prior company we’d both worked at, and built a relationship on that.

A lot of people fear doing cold outreach because it can feel awkward reaching out to someone you don’t know. What’s your take?

It definitely felt a little weird for me–not going to lie! I’d never done cold outreach before but I knew I had to if I was going to go into tech sales. By showing I had this outreach skill during the interview stage it gave me an edge and prepared me tremendously.

Way to connect the skills you used in the interview process to the ones you need in the role! 

I’ve been in the workforce for a good six years now and held a variety of sales roles. I made sure to show off this during the interview: 

  • Solid communication skills
  • The ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Letting recruiters know I’ve been mentioned as a top performer 

Anybody who is looking to transition into tech has to sell themselves as best as they can because nobody else can except for you!

Tell me about your current role. And now that you’ve secured your first role in the tech industry (!) what’s the biggest difference between working in finance sales versus tech sales?

I’m a sales development rep at FiscalNote. We’re the #1 policy tracking software, giving policy analysis, mitigating risk, among other things.

In my experience, the tech used in the tech sector is far more advanced than in finance–which sounds obvious but the difference is really amazing.

My final thoughts: don’t be afraid. It’s a big deal changing industries after being in the workforce. But if you’re always looking for a “great” time to make the transition, you’re never going to find it. Today is the best day you can break into tech.

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