My Career at Checkatrade - Jess
From Membership Advisor to Technical Program Manager, we are proud to share the Checkatrade success story of Jess. She is a great example of how talent, courage, drive, dedication, hard work and the hunger to learn can open doors you never thought of exploring and progress your career whilst you are with us. Here’s how it all happened…
Jess’s journey started back in 2016 when she applied to join our Membership Advice Team. Her unforgettable first phone interview was hijacked by the antics of her cat (who wouldn’t like a loving gift of a dead bird mid-interview) which set the tone for whirlwind of experiences she now has under her belt. From frontline customer service roles to IT testing and then Technical Delivery Management, we took Jess on a little trip down memory lane and as a result, she’s sharing her inspirational story and advice on how you can get there too, if you want.
Can you give us a quick round up of your career so far at Checkatrade?
“Sure! So, throughout my first couple of years, I learned the ropes within Membership Advice and then moved into Retention. I enjoyed the variety of the calls, the challenging conversations, and put myself up for extra responsibilities and projects whenever possible too.
I had an interest in IT, so I made myself a pain (top tip!) to follow up on opportunities for any vacancies (the weekly We Are Hiring emails are a must), got advice from connections already working in IT and also volunteered as a ‘guinea pig’ to undertake actual real-life testing (no animals were harmed during this testing).
We’ve had a lot of transformation and system implementations at Checkatrade during my time here, so the IT Team would sometimes ask me to support because they knew I’d be up for it. I would test and identify bugs, test the environments before release and share feedback and screenshots on outcomes in return.
In my spare time I also volunteered for testing at Apple and Game through previous connections having worked in both before. Then, when summer 2020 came, an internal opportunity finally came up for a Manual Tester in IT, I went for it and got the job!
I really enjoyed testing, and Amy Dennis (our current Head of Engineering, previously IT Programme Manager) started getting me involved in a lot more stuff. She recognised I’d be good in a Delivery focussed role and took me under her wing, coached me and provided me with opportunities to attend meetings with key stakeholders in relation to the product I was working on. This wider exposure and experience ultimately lead into a move to a Junior Technical Delivery Manager in summer 2021 and a further promotion to a Technical Program Manager July 2022.”
Wow! You must have some real highlights and lowlights from along the way?
“Absolutely. Getting to where I am now and the career journey I have been on is definitely one of my greatest achievements in itself. I am also particularly pleased with the ‘Secure Contacts’ project that I was part of, and it really was a great achievement. Plus, when I was in Operations, I had the opportunity to train new starters which I really enjoyed, and it makes me proud when I see them now doing well.
My biggest challenge has been starting as a Junior Technical Delivery Manager – the transition from QA to Tech Delivery was a vast one and involved real learning around a much more product-based role. I went from an individual contributor QA in a pod of Developers to helping run it from a product perspective!
So, what advice would you give someone at the start of their career?
“Four key things:
1. Keep learning! Learn outside of work – find out what interests you, research, get some experience if you can. For example I did some beta- testing for Microsoft and Apple, through platforms I had gained access to from previous employment. This helped me get to where I am job-wise. Currently I am doing some online courses in various coding languages and platforms including React and GCP fundamentals so I can understand better how the Developers work and their technical solutions.
2. Get hands-on. Any experience you can get by rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in will also help. Take on additional responsibilities, ask how you can contribute and find out more about the wider business when and where you can.
3. Be vocal. Know where you want to go and own it. If you’re not sure where you want to be, ask for a mentor to help. Tell your Line Manager what your aspirations are, tell your colleagues that this is what you want to be doing. Ask people for their advice on how to get there. Take time to get to know people in the kitchen and tea points - it’s a big part of networking - knowing what they are up to, and seeing if it’s something you want to get into.
4. Work our whose job you REALLY want. Once you’ve done that, plan what you need to do to get there. And once you’re there – think OK, what do I want to be doing next? Stop, take stock, think again. Revaluate constantly and ask yourself the key questions regularly - are you happy? Are you content? And if not, what’s next?”
Great, so what advice would you give to someone who wanted a career change?
“Be honest about where you want to go. If you are not sure, look at what you enjoy about your current role or outside of work and see what you can do to fit that into work.
Keep learning, learn about anything and everything you can, because you don’t know when it’s going to prove useful. Sit with different people, absorb what they are doing, and learn.
Take risks – find out more about things you find challenging, focus on it, fail fast, and then move onto something else. It’s all about learning as you go.”
OK – so what’s a key lesson you have learned along the way?
“Be bold and vocal! Be brutally honest about what motivates you. I had to learn this, as you often think what ‘should’ motivate me? But it’s about asking yourself ‘what does motivate me?’
Be honest about what you want to be doing – work is so important, as we spend a lot of time doing it! So, find out what interests you, and try incorporating that into your job.”
Got it. So, what’s next for you Jess?
“Thinking it through, my most recent goal was Technical Program Manager - now I’m there, I am re-evaluating. I am enjoying where I am, however, I am powered by having a goal in my head, something to work towards - so watch this space.
I’ve also signed up to be a mentor – and I’ll be completing my training for this in February. So if you’d like to learn more about my journey and see how I can help you, feel free to sign up to our mentoring scheme – we might be a match!”
A huge thanks to Jess for sharing her story, advice, and encouragement. I am sure we are all in agreement that if there ever was a question on the importance of being in the driving seat of your own development, Jess has truly brought this alive. She’s got the licence and the t-shirt and a fantastic track record to support. A massive well-done Jess – we can’t wait to see what you do next!