If there’s one thing that I’ve learned as both a job seeker and now a recruiter, it’s that starting and growing a career as a college student or graduate is just as unpredictable as starting and growing your own business.Sometimes your major becomes your profession. For others, your job might have nothing to do with your major. Then other times, you’ll make an unexpected career change because your eyes opened up to something brand new.
Whether you're a college student, an upcoming graduate, or even a recent graduate, it’s never too early to start looking for either career advice or inspiration to help you find your path, which is why we created our Campus to Career series.
About the Series and What's New in 2020
In our Campus to Career series, I sit down and chat with remarkable people about how they started and grew their career.
What was going through the mind of their college self? What prepared them for a job? What worked (or didn’t work) for them in their career search? What would they have done differently? What is their career today and what do they love about it?
Every episode is an opportunity to uncover these questions and more, and our goal is to provide some advice and inspiration to spark your career path.
In This Latest Episode
I sat down with Jenner Paulino, currently a Business Development Representative on our Corporate Sales team at HubSpot.
From Jenner's journey, we learned a few key lessons that not only served him well for his career, but are also great tips to keep in mind as you think about starting your career:
- As a college student, having patience and removing timeline pressures in the job search process is worthwhile.
- Keeping an open mind, stepping out of your comfort zone, and taking on new challenges can expose you to opportunities and career paths you didn't expect, but ended up loving.
- If you don't know where your career interests are yet, start by making a list of the things you want to get really great at, find ways to hone your craft, and let your interests develop and guide your career choices from there.
Check out the episode and transcript below, and don't forget to subscribe for updates about upcoming episodes!
VC: I’m here with Jenner Paulino, Corporate BDR here at HubSpot. So excited to chat with you a little bit more about you and where you’ve come in your career. Thanks for joining us, Jenner.
JP: Thanks for having me, Viennie. Appreciate it.
VC: Awesome! I feel like I’ve spent some great time with you because we’ve worked together on a lot of events, and now we get to just focus on you and you alone, so I’ve got you in the hot seat!
JP: Thank you, brother!
VC: So, I’d love to learn a little bit more about, first, some introductory things. When did you join HubSpot, and what does it mean to be a Corp BDR?
JP: I’m originally from Miami, had some time abroad living in east Asia, primarily in Japan, for a couple years.
I joined HubSpot in May 2018 right after five years of living abroad. Never been to Boston before or Cambridge where HubSpot’s [main headquarters] is located. I wanted to move here primarily just for the job, for the company, after visualizing the growth HubSpot was having and what it actually meant to understand what their actual mission statement was to help millions of companies grow better. I felt like I resonated with that a lot.
Fast forward to now, since I started, I’ve been promoted twice, and now currently am a Corp BDR.
VC: I realized I’m using acronyms and abbreviations, so what is a Corp BDR? What does that mean in full because I know that’s a shortened title?
JP: A BDR is a Business Development Representative. Some people call it a Sales Development Rep (SDR).
Primarily, my role here is to proactively seek out new opportunities of business that partner with and evaluate HubSpot.
VC: And what’s the Corporate piece of your role?
JP: The sales organization is divided into different tiers. We have a team that is focused on small businesses, a team focused on mid-market businesses, and a team focused on corporate sized companies. The definition of Corporate is going after companies that have an employee range of 200+ employees up to about 10,000 employees.
VC: This is why I love your story because you’ve literally come from different angles for your career.
You went to school in Florida, and then you moved to Japan for a little while, so let’s unpack that a little bit. Where’d you go to school?
JP: Florida International University.
VC: When’d you graduate?
VC: What was your major?
JP: My major had nothing to do with what my life or career ended up being.
VC: It happens so much!
JP: I know! I was a Parks and Recreation Sports Management major with a minor in Asian Studies.
VC: So, does the show Parks and Recreation mean anything to you by chance?
JP: It’s funny because I never watched the show, but I know of it. I never watched it, but I did have my first internship at a parks and recreation facility in Miami Lakes.
VC: The more you know! I had no idea that was a concentration. How did that lead to Japan? How did you get from parks and recreation to Japan?
JP: Living in Miami, everyone is bilingual. Most people there are of Hispanic origin. I myself come from the Dominican Republic, first generation Hispanic.
Living in Miami, you go to school and everybody takes a language course in university. All my friends already chose Spanish because it’s an easy cop-out to get an easy “A.”
I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to challenge myself and take a language class. For us, it was required, but I wanted to do a language that was so different and so challenging. I started going through the list: French, Italian, etc. I thought, “What’s different? What about Japanese?"
Japanese is different. I liked anime when I was younger. I liked Dragon Ball, I liked Rurouni Kenshin, so maybe it fit.
From there, I started taking some Japanese courses in university for two and a half years, so I fell in love with the language. Started learning more about culture. That’s why I started to dive into more Asian studies, really enjoyed Asian studies and history, particularly East Asian history and film. That’s what led me to study abroad in my junior year of university.
I studied abroad in Japan for about eight weeks and that’s when my eyes blew up. It was my first time in Asia. The culture was so different. People are so different - and I fell in love with it. I fell in love with all of it. I was like, “I need to come back here after I graduate, at least for one year.”
VC: And it seems like you did a couple years from what I remember?
JP: I did five.
VC: You did five?! Ok, so I love that you chose Japanese as your language requirement. I think that’s a great way to step out of your comfort zone. For me, when I had to take my language requirement, I chose German because I thought it was actually closer to English at the time, so I was actually one of those students that thought I could cop-out.
JP: German’s pretty tough [to learn].
VC: It is! I learned that after the fact, but I actually came to love it because it was different. It was a new culture, offered me a new perspective that I hadn’t thought about before so it’s great when you can use those instances to actually expand your horizon there. That’s awesome that you did that with Japan and Japanese.
Let’s fast forward then to how you got your job after graduation going to Japan. What did that look like?
JP: When I was in university, I applied to this prestigious program called the JET program, the Japanese English and Teaching program. The JET program receives about 8,000 applications a year, and they only choose about a thousand people a year.
VC: From the United States?
JP: From the world, around the world!
The purpose of this program is for me to teach English to elementary, junior high school, or high school students in countryside Japan. You don’t know many details. You just know that you go through the application, through an interview process that takes about 5-6 months. Then around April, [the program] tells you that you’ve been approved and in May, you’re told where you’re going exactly in Japan. It could be anywhere.
VC: So, where did you end up?
JP: I ended up in the most southern tip of Japan. I lived in a countryside area where there were only six foreigners there. It was a suburban town, very countryside, where I lived next to a farm with some pigs and mountains everywhere. It was gorgeous. There were no English speakers at all, and I was teaching 8 elementary school and 5 junior high school students.
VC: So to go from Miami to Japan almost overnight, how did you even think about that? Was that scary? How did you go through that mentally?
JP: It’s really not that scary. It’s sort of like how I was raised.
Again, I’m Dominican, and most of my family is in the Dominican Republic, but I always grew up traveling when I was a kid. My mom lived in Jersey, and my dad lived in Miami, so I would always go from Miami to Jersey, and then to the D.R. in the summers for three months, back to Jersey and Miami. And my dad is also a travel agent, who is a HubSpot customer and owns a travel agency (runawaytravelinc.com), so traveling was normal for me.
A lot of people think it’s scary, but it’s really not that scary, as long as you’re doing it for a reason that you care about. It’s doable, 100%.
It’s all about a new city, new experience. It can seem a bit daunting, but you adapt.
VC: So after five years in Japan, you came back to the States, of course, and so what brought you back to the States? Why did you want to leave?
JP: That’s a really good point. After teaching, I went into recruiting for a little bit and then I went back to teaching English for professionals, but I didn’t see a career growth path there so I wanted to go back to the States. It could have been anywhere. I’ve already done the whole “Let’s go to another country” thing, so I could go to any city and be alright with it. It was all a matter of what was the best fit.
So, I came back to the States. I wanted career growth and grow my career in something that I care about, and HubSpot was top of my list.
VC: How did HubSpot get to the top of your list? Were you researching online, or did you hear from a friend? How did you discover HubSpot from Tokyo of all places back then?
JP: I was going through Glassdoor back in late 2017. I remember it was October 2017, and I was on Glassdoor checking out the top 50 companies in the U.S. I saw HubSpot at the time was in the top 10 at #7, so I started reading about all these different companies and checking out what would be a good fit.
I was always interested in tech, and then I started reading more about what HubSpot was doing. I thought it was interesting. I loved the mission statement, liked what they were about and thought about how I could get started.
I told my girlfriend at the time that I was thinking about this company, and asked what she thought about it. She said, “I think that’s interesting. I think I know somebody who used to work there a long time ago.”
It’s such a small world. She was a former JET [participant] doing the same program I did, and she lived in a state above Tokyo. She met up with my girlfriend someplace, and they became best friends. She’s originally from Boston, and my girlfriend’s friend, Christina, went back to Boston to work for HubSpot.
VC: My mind is blown right now by how much of a coincidence this all was. You didn’t even run into each other, right?
JP: No! So, my girlfriend told me and asked if she should reach out to learn more. She did, and I spoke with Christina about how HubSpot was such a great company when she worked there. It’s starting to grow a lot. A lot of things are changing for the better. From there on out, she actually connected me with David Torres, a Latin American sales manager here at HubSpot.
During my interviews with David, it was a three and a half month process at the time because I was in Tokyo and he was here in Cambridge. Day was night, night was day, so it was hard to coordinate.
VC: Talk about time zones!
JP: Yeah, 13-hour difference. But yeah, that’s how it happened.
VC: So what was the role you started in? I know you’re in sales right now, but did you start in sales?
JP: I was actually applying for his Latin America BDR position, so I wanted to continue to diversify myself. I did my Japanese thing, but I wanted to go back to my roots, go back to speaking in Spanish. I applied for David’s position and got all the way to the end, spoke with the leadership team.
It was great, but the only thing that happened was that even though I’m a native, fluent Spanish speaker, my Spanish was very rusty after being abroad for so long. He mentioned, “your drive is there, passion is there, but your Spanish is still rusty. I wouldn’t be able to get you this role unless you get that better.”
VC: Funny how that happens when you’re learning Japanese and a new language, and how much that impacts your native speaking abilities.
JP: Yeah, that happened, but he then mentioned an open position on their Inbound Sales team as an Inbound Success Coach.
There was a new position open, a seat to be filled to support our Latin America customers. Instead of doing outbound sales, this team is focused on inbound sales - more listening and helping.
VC: So, did you go for it?!
JP: Yeah actually, I got my shot on our Inbound Sales team, doing a fusion: 50% of my time focusing on Latin America and the remaining 50% on North America, so I was a hybrid role.
VC: So, how long were you in that role? Back then, it was referred to as an Inbound Sales Coordinator, but now it is currently called an Inbound Success Coach.
JP: I was doing that for about 9-10 months.
VC: You’re actually leaving out an important detail too because I knew this before, but you helped grow and expand our LatAm Inbound Success team. You helped start and hire for that team from what I remember, so it was cool to be able to witness that on my side.
JP: Yeah, it was wonderful. I realized that my role here in Cambridge should really be in Bogota, our new office and headquarters in Latin America. They actually took me up on that, and gave me the opportunity to fly out to Bogota to help new prospects, build the team and do some interviews. That was an awesome experience.
VC: That was pretty cool. You should be so proud of that. I know you’re being very humble about it, but you should be so proud of being able to be part of that growth.
JP: It was awesome, man. It was really good, so thank you, HubSpot, for giving me that chance.
VC: So then, you helped grow that team. You were an Inbound Success Coach and became a BDR. What was that transition like? How did you know you wanted to go be a BDR?
JP: As an Inbound Success Coach (ISC), it’s changed so much since I started.
The normal path of an ISC was to go BDR. Again, an ISC focuses on inbound sales and a BDR on outbound sales. When I started back in May 2018, I was the 17th member of the ISC team, but in the last year and a half, the team exploded to over 80 people now globally.
The role has shifted to be a hybrid of sales and support together, so now it’s not a typical framework to go from ISC to BDR. Now, you have more options to go from ISC to an Implementation Specialist or a BDR, so there are different avenues now for people that may be interested in starting their careers as an ISC.
VC: That’s cool to see the different growth paths. You chose to go the BDR route, why?
JP: I was always curious about challenging myself. I really like waking up and having so much more to do. There’s something always waiting, never be satisfied or content with what you got.
VC: You didn’t really have previous sales experience. You were teaching English in Japan, you were a recruiter, so how was trying to get into sales? Was it a challenge for you, or were there things in the past that helped you feel successful going into sales for the first time?
JP: I think teachers make great salespeople, to be honest.
When I was a teacher, it was all about focusing on the student, their growth, explaining to somebody in the simplest way and seeing them get better at it.
It’s the same thing in sales, especially in HubSpot Sales. HubSpot Sales is mostly consultative sales so you really are like a consultant, and you’re diving into their business, figuring out what they’re doing, actively listening, asking strong questions and navigating pushbacks to understand what they really want to get out of something.
VC: It feels very human, which I love.
JP: Very human. Teaching and sales - at least the way that HubSpot does sales - is very consultative. Once you see the prospect or student get it and be on the same page as you, that’s when the magic happens.
VC: In your role right now, what does your day look like doing that? If you were to wake up and say, “I’ve got X things to do,” what would be those things?
JP: It changes every day.
The process never changes, and it takes a while to develop your process, but once you stick to that process, that never changes. In terms of things to do everyday, it could be to follow up with this person, call this person, prioritize a new inbound lead - but the framework is the same.
The messaging’s got to be perfect and personalized.
Always call someone with an initiative. What’s the reason for you calling? What are trying to give them? Always speak with value, value, value - and ask for a bit of their time, or create urgency.
VC: It seems like you have a lot of control over everything being in sales. What’s it like to have that much control in a job? Because there are some jobs where some things depend on many other people, but it seems like it’s on you in sales. What’s that like, and is that stressful or frustrating?
JP: BDR is not an easy job. BDRs grind; they have grit and creativity. BDR is not the easiest job, but it’s the most fulfilling if you can get through it. If you’re about that life and rise up to the challenge, you’re going to do great in this role.
VC: Seems like you need a lot of grit and intrinsic motivation to always keep going.
JP: 100 percent, 100 percent.
One thing you talked about is controlling your own destiny. As an Account Executive, you do control your destiny, but as a BDR, there are so many things that have to play into your favor, so it’s a mix of being prepared and also a lot of luck as well because there has to be the right timing. You have to be reaching out to the right person. The messaging has to be right, and they have to reply back. A lot of things have to be in your favor for things to work well.
As a BDR, we are warriors, so we always have to be prepared once the opportunity arises.
VC: What’s it like being a BDR here specifically at HubSpot? Like you said, being a BDR is a very challenging role in the sales organization, but what’s it like at HubSpot? Do you find that you’re set up for success? Feel like you’re supported and doing well?
JP: 1,000 percent. First of all, with the nucleus of this team right now, I’m so proud of it. We are very diverse, very team-oriented, never selfish, feeds off each other’s energy, helps each other out. That’s based on the nucleus of the team, and obviously, shout out to our BDR manager. She’s great, helps us out and has our back for anything.
We also have support from our account executives, whom you work very closely with. Those individuals are more like your mentors. They’re going to finesse you and help build you into an account executive eventually. You end up having a very strong relationship with lots of key individuals as a BDR: your team, your manager, and your account executives that you work very closely with. They’re always there, door’s always open for them. You just gotta ask.
VC: That’s awesome, so it seems very close-knit and accessible. You’ve now been at HubSpot for almost two years?
JP: It’s actually been about 18 months.
VC: We actually started about a month apart actually now that I say that because you started in May 2018, and I started in June. That’s incredible to see how much you’ve grown since May of 2018.
JP: I feel like I’ve grown a lot just career-wise and as an individual in just 18 months. It’s great.
VC: You graduated from college in 2013, right? That means you are now 7 years into your career, so when I look back, [your career] feels so non-traditional in the best way possible. It’s great because this is the thing about going to college nowadays. You said this earlier, but sometimes your major doesn’t always dictate your career.
I think that’s a narrative we need to tell a little bit more because we’re very much accustomed in the U.S. (and maybe globally) that our major should become our vocation. That’s not always the case for everybody, and this is a great example.
I have some dying questions that a lot of us and maybe those of us in university still trying to find our way. First, knowing what you know now, what’s something that you wished you could have told yourself back in college about how to approach your job and career search? Is there anything you would do differently? Wished you would have known earlier?
JP: There’s so much pressure for students nowadays. I’m not deep into my career. I’m only about five years out.
VC: I would say that’s pretty deep still.
JP: I think it’s okay to be patient.
Students going out of university think there’s so much pressure on them because “I have to get a job,” “pay off my loans,” “I have to do this,” or “I have to do that.” I feel like there’s so much pressure that they feel rushed.
I think that would be advice for incoming graduates. Don’t rush it.
I was fortunate to have that experience in Japan when I studied abroad, and I was like, “I don’t know where I’m at. I need to come here for at least a year.”
That was patience too. I was willing to backtrack the start of my career in order to figure out what I would like. I was like, “I need to live here for one year.” One year turned to two, two turned to three, four, five years - but I’m really just starting my career right now.
I’m totally ok with that, so I would say for advice, it’s about patience.
VC: That’s stemming from something you said a lot earlier, which was stepping out of your comfort zone. You made this decision early on in your college career to go abroad, whereas some students are afraid to do that because they’re afraid of the unknown or change. The fact that you did too opened your horizons to what a career could look like.
Something else that is on a lot of students’ minds is that come second semester, no matter what class year you are, there’s always a pressure about getting that job or internship right away.
When you were thinking about getting that first job after college, when did that process happen for you? Did that happen for you first semester or second semester of your senior year?
JP: My first real job was that JET program that I applied to, and that is a pretty tedious interview process. It started way back in October of 2012 and lasted until April/May of 2013. It took a long time, but it takes time.
VC: There’s a lot of pressure right now, where you have to get a job during the fall semester. That’s what traditional timelines look like, but it’s 2020 now.
Things are different where a lot of jobs or companies don’t follow those traditional timelines (and shouldn’t always), so breaking students out of that pattern is something we’re starting to move into as a global movement, not just at HubSpot.
I think [as employers] that’s something we could all do better, which is moving away from those timelines and actually having more opportunities throughout an academic year for people to actually pursue opportunities and not just feel like they have to do in the fall.
JP: 1,000 percent.
Don’t rush into things. The world is a lot smaller than you think. This goes for a lot of things. It goes for people getting out of their comfort zone, and they want to go backpacking, taking three or six months off.
Figure out what you want to do and don’t rush into something just because you need a job. It will come.
Life is the longest shortest thing in the world. We obviously know that it’s fragile and it can be taken away any second, but it’s also very, very long in the grand scheme.
Don’t rush into anything, take your time, figure out what you really want to do, whether it takes you a couple months or couple years, it will happen.
VC: One last question for you - for a lot of us who are early in our university career and we don’t really know what to do yet, we mentioned one tip, which was to take yourself out of your comfort zone, try new things and just go for it. What would you say to someone that doesn’t know where they want to go? Where should they start?
JP: People always say to follow your passion. Passion is great and it will take you so far, but in order to realistically do that, you have to be good at something to be noticed. If you want to follow your passion and give it a go, great, do it - but passion is not always going to pay the bills. You got to be really good at something.
Make a list of all the things you really want to get good at, and then determine what are the opportunities and how are you going to get there. You don’t got a plan, you don’t got a way.
VC: Would you say it’s good to get great at multiple things or one specific thing? Because one of the things I see as a recruiter a lot is that I’ll have a candidate come to me and say that they’re great at these three things, and then it’s up to me [as the recruiter] to figure out where their best fit is. But at the end of the day, I actually would love to know where are they the most passionate [and interested].
JP: Depends on the person, it’s a case-by-case. I think it depends on who you are. You can be a renaissance [person] and do a lot of different things. For example, I like to work hard and then I go home, study Japanese for an hour, and then I go play my sax for an hour.
VC: You’re a sax player?!
JP: I started about six months ago, and it’s going well! I’m trying these different things, but I’m not labeling myself as only being great at one thing. Spread it out, but it’s a case-by-case basis.
Again, make a list of the things you really want to get good at and then figure out, how am I going to do that, how am I going to get great at it.
Originally published Feb 26, 2020 11:45:00 AM, updated April 12 2020