If you’ve ever wondered what business development, partnerships, and sales roles entail, then tune into Episode 4 of Career Memos withSarina.
Today, I’m speaking with Ellen Da Silva, the Head of Strategic Partnerships at hims & hers. Ellen is going to take us through her fascinating career journey, graduating college at the height of a recession, and how she thrives today in a role at a fast-paced, direct-to-consumer company.
You’ll also learn about the importance of mentorship, taking risks, and how Ellen scored a role at Twitter in their early days, thanks to the power of tapping into her network.
Think critically about your next role – don’t chase the money and the prestige
Recessions and pandemics are stressful! So what do you do if you’re graduating college next year right in the middle of one or both?
Ellen’s advice is gold. Be thoughtful about the job offer you choose to take and think critically about what you actually want to do. If you’re given an offer, ask yourself, “if this is the only job I’ll ever have in this life, will I be happy doing it?”
It’s easy to jump into job opportunities that seem prestigious and lucrative – there is something alluring about a fancy job title or knowing you’re going to make more money in your paycheck, but the job may not be the right fit.
Finally, don’t let the economic uncertainty stress you out. If you’re currently in an internship, embrace it and soak up the learnings. See if you can parlay your time into 2-3 internships so you can try a variety of companies and positions.
Finding a company that’s in alignment with your values could lead to a job offer
Ellen landed a role in business operations at Twitter in 2012, first by strategically thinking about companies she’d love to work for that had tremendous growth potential and products she actually enjoyed and aligned with.
But how was Ellen going to get the job? She started by leveraging her personal network to see if she knew anyone who worked there. By a stroke of luck, she connected with an engineer there who helped shepherd her through the application process. Within 10 days, she was on a plane to San Francisco meeting with the team and getting the offer.
This opportunity wouldn’t have landed for Ellen if it weren’t networking. Networking is about being shameless – do not hesitate to look on LinkedIn and reach out to someone you met once, and ask them to introduce you to one of their connections. If you have a point of connection, a blind outreach can often be effective.
Mentorship should be organic
Mentorship is a hot, coveted topic. Maybe you have a mentor already, or you dream about having one. A mentor can single handedly elevate and change your career for the better. A good mentor could become a lifelong friend or even a spiritual advisor.
Ellen is adamant that mentorship should be a two-way street and a symbiotic relationship.
You may be learning from them, but they may be learning from you too. Allow the mentor / mentee relationship to form organically. Maybe you gravitate towards someone who has a specific knowledge base, or they have a personality type that resonates with you.
It is these types of relationships that can hold so much value, especially when you’re on the ground level of your career after college.
Working for an early stage startup requires grit
Strategic partnerships are when two companies selling two very different products join forces together for a mutual benefit, like when Dell bundles their computers with Windows or when Google Suite integrates with Slack. These partnerships exist with the purpose of generating revenue, augmenting or creating a new product, or bringing in new users.
When Ellen landed in this prominent role at hims & hers, she felt well-equipped to help the company figure this out with her past experience in sales, business development, and deal negotiation.
If you’ve thought about joining an early stage startup like hims & hers, Ellen has great advice.
Know that the work will be very inspiring, but it will get gritty, from long hours, to moving at a faster than usual clip to make sure everything gets done. Also? No job is too small. Ellen recalls setting up fundamental software systems and building desks by hand in the hallway. It was par for the course.
SOME QUESTIONS I ASK ELLEN
- What was your first job out of college?
- What is some advice you’d give to a college student who is graduating in 2021?
- What was it like to work at Twitter and how did you get the job?