Interviewed by Steal This Job Blog
Recently I was approached by Caroline Dobuzinski from Steal This Job Blog, that features career news, tips and profiles of people doing interesting jobs. She appreciated my “positivity about the job possibilities for young people,” so she asked to interview me and of course I obliged. I’ve re-posted it below, but it can also be found on her fantastic blog here.
“Smart, savvy start-up business developer”
Name: Grace Boyle
Age: 22 (turning 23 on Friday, March 13 – Happy Birthday, Grace!)
Occupation: Business Development
Place of Residence: Boulder, Colorado
Employer: Lijit Networks, Inc. (http://www.lijit.com/)
Interests: snowboarding, travel, cooking, laughing, blogging, technology, progressive mindsets, art, live music, my Italian family, a good challenge, authenticity, the outdoors, road trips
Favourite Quote: “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” -Hunter S. Thompson
What training was useful in getting your job?
Going above and beyond the requirements led to Boyle’s success in the online business world. Her public relations degree at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont required the completion of at least one professional internship. Boyle completed a total five, giving her invaluable skills. “Not only did I challenge myself, but I gained mentors in my field, was promoted to employment from two of the internships throughout college, and had a resume filled with relevant experience by the time I graduated,” said Boyle. “I learned to be assertive, how to network, meet the ‘right’ people and leverage my experience to employers.”
Boyle also gained perspective on the field by travelling abroad, studying for a year in Florence, Italy. “I stepped outside my comfort zone and learned to adapt in another culture other than my own,” she said.
How did you get your job?
Whatever you want to call it—be it a familiar expression, truism, cliché—being in the right place at the right time is so often the way to a career. But luck and happenstance aren’t the only factors to success.
Boyle moved to Boulder, Colorado without a job because she was passionate about living there. She started networking, asking her contacts if they knew anyone in the city and building a list of names. This eventually led to an informal meeting with Micah Baldwin, Lijit’s VP of Business Development. The meeting came about after Boyle mentioned to a contact that she had added the Lijit search engine on her blog.
In an unexpected twist, the meeting quickly turned into a job interview. “Micah began to perk up as I talked about Lijit and how I loved their service so he said, ‘Well, we’re actually hiring,’” says Boyle.
The rest of the story is pretty simple, says Boyle: “Walter the COO walks by and Micah goes, ‘Walter, Grace is interested in the Biz Dev position. Can you interview her real quick?’ Just like that, I bounce into an interview with Walter the head of the company (I laugh now, because Walter travels a lot and the fact that he had time and was in the office is serendipitous).”
Boyle left the office at noon after her impromptu interview. By 4 p.m. that afternoon, she was offered the job in business development with Lijit and was in the office by Monday. The COO said that it Boyle’s enthusiasm, experience, drive and grasp of the company’s work had landed her on the job. “He said it was the quickest hiring decision he had ever made,” says Boyle.
Describe your typical workday.
“In a start-up you always experience something new and life happens fast around you,” says Boyle. The workday usually starts for Boyle by staying on top of the online buzz about Lijit. She also checks the site’s stats to see how many people have signed up for the search engine service. “I like to keep tabs on our users and our brand,” says Boyle. While Boyle is not meeting face-to-face with her clients, developing relationships and having excellent people skills is essential.
Internally, Boyle meets with the business development and marketing team. She is involved with the technical end in helping to customize the search for larger sites. “This allows my inner geek to shine!” says Boyle.
Today’s online business environment also requires excellent attention to customer service which is what Boyle aims to provide. “I strive to be personal and ‘available’ for our bloggers so at any given time I have about 70 conversations going on with current or potential Lijit users.” Boyle describes her position as “a mix of customer support, marketing, and direct conversations regarding Lijit.”
What are your regular responsibilities and duties?
“I forge new relationships with online publishers and bloggers, manage existing relationships, and help to contribute to Lijit’s growth and reach with more bloggers using Lijit’s search service,” said Boyle. Boyle also promotes, or “evangelizes” in start-up speak, Lijit’s services through vehicles such as Twitter and her own blog.
By taking on an expanded workload, Boyle also created an identity for herself at the company: “I have also become a trusted voice for Lijit,” she says. “On my own, I help arrange online pieces about Lijit with my new users as well as set up press interviews with influential marketers and bloggers, with our CEO, Todd. This wasn’t part of my job description, but with my background in public relations and wanting to go beyond the call of duty.”
She tries to stay one step ahead of her boss, anticipating his next move and completing tasks ahead of time (probably also a good strategy for foosball).
Who tells you what to do? Are there opportunities to exercise some creative freedom in your line of work?
The culture at Lijit is one of sharing ideas and encouraging open conversation, learning, teamwork, innovation and cooperation housed in a lively, lime green office. “Each of us at Lijit respects the other and there isn’t a hierarchy,” says Boyle. “I can walk into our COO’s office, Walter ask him a direct question or take a break by playing on our foosball table.”
What is the best part of your job?
Through her work, Boyle gets to follow the many threads of conversation happening online. “Whether it’s a gourmet cake blogger, an expat in Italy or a blogger who writes about crafts gone wrong around the world, I still maintain a connection with each of [
the bloggers using Lijit],” says Boyle.
Through her work, Boyle recently connected with her Italian heritage through a blog called Bleeding Espresso. The writer, Michelle Cabrio is living in Calabria, Italy where Boyle’s family is from. “Not only did I help to customize her Lijit search and she wrote a blog post about Lijit and me, but we’ve become friends,” says Boyle. “I am very passionate about Italy and I’ve been able to connect with someone living and breathing a little piece of my dream.”
What or who inspired you to get into this line of work?
There were many people in her academic and professional life who inspired Boyle to pursue a career in business. Gregor Barnum, Boyle’s boss for an internship with Seventh Generation has an offbeat and intriguing job title of his own: Director of Corporate Consciousness. He got Boyle blogging for the company’s website. “I learned html, edited the blog, and worked directly with their blogging team.” At school, a professor of Internet marketing, Elaine Young taught Boyle to understand online tools for businesses.
Is there something that makes you stand out in your position?
Boyle lets her passion for her job show through her had work, perseverance and positive attitude. “Everyday, I think, what can I do differently? I ask questions and stay hungry. I never turn down a challenge,” says Boyle.
Knowing that it would be a good contribution to Lijit, she recently went beyond the call of duty by creating an orientation package for a new hire. “Sometimes it’s the little things you do to fill the gaps that go a long way,” says Boyle.
“To be good at my job you have to be personal, motivated, creative, highly organized, adept at negotiating and maintaining relationships, Internet savvy, a bit geeky, and a multi-tasking extrordinare,” says Boyle.
Where would you like to go from here?
“I really got into blogging when I began at Lijit, so I want to continue that personally, but would love to work for another start-up, specifically in technology and social media. I’m very happy at Lijit, so I’m not looking too far ahead but I broadly see myself running online marketing and social media for a company in the future.”
What advice would you give someone who is trying to break into a career like yours?
“Walk the talk,” says Boyle. “I came into Lijit with a blog, Twitter account and my Lijit search set up. I was the target audience and did my research because I knew what Lijit did. I have an innate passion for connecting and building relationships and any business development professional needs those qualities to succeed.”
A little realistic self-assessment can also go a long way in creating a clear sense of career purpose and drive. “I also think it’s very important to know your strengths and weaknesses,” says Boyle. “A lot of people say that, but by knowing them you understand how to work and can articulate to the company how you will personally make them better.”
Any links that you recommend?
Chris Brogan: Social Media Business Strategy and more
Modite: Career and Life Advice
Brazen Careerist: This site, run by the founder of three start-ups, has articles and tips, and includes a profile of Boyle herself.
Lijit’s Company Blog: “What we do, who we are and company culture,” says Boyle.
Conversation Agent: Connecting Ideas and People