Training and Upskilling to Start or Change a Career: A PowerSchool Mentor Power Hour

What’s the secret to a successful career pivot?

At a recent Mentor Power Hour, Training and Upskilling to Start or Change a Career, we got the chance to explore this question with three accomplished employees of PowerSchool. According to them, there are many contributing factors — tenacity, patience, passion for learning, and more.

Yet with all of this, one theme that consistently emerged was gratitude: Gratitude for mentors. Gratitude for supportive companies. Gratitude for the opportunity to learn and grow.

We’re diving into the highlights of our PowerSchool session to learn how to best navigate a career pivot, how training helps you grow, and how perseverance and gratitude can lead you down paths you never expected.

Meet the PowerSchool Panelists

If you’re a parent with school-aged children, there’s a good chance you’ve had experience with one of PowerSchool’s products. PowerSchool supports K-12 school systems with cloud-based software, as well as HR technology and more for higher education. 

The Mom Project’s Elizabeth Shackelford hosted the discussion with Ircka West, Emily Cohen, and Kristin Oleksinski from PowerSchool, uncovering how PowerSchool supports career development through every stage of the journey.

Kristin joined PowerSchool in July 2022 as a UX designer after completing her UX design professional certification through the RISE scholarship program. Prior to her career shift, she worked as a freelance designer for several prominent companies, focusing more on marketing. Yet she missed using her logical and analytical side, so she took the leap toward a career in UX design.

Emily’s start as a geography major helped inform her skills she would grow throughout her career. After working in higher education enrollment and elementary school teaching, she started at PowerSchool in the sales department. Recently, she made a pivot within PowerSchool, moving from sales to the customer operations team.

Ircka got both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in communications. This led her to teaching courses, which she continued until beginning at PowerSchool. Once there, she started in marketing and customer advocacy. Recently, she switched over to the higher education side — going back to her roots and where it all began.

Working Parent Life at PowerSchool

For a company to provide true work-life balance, they must do more than use buzz words. They must live up to the promises they make. As a remote-first company that has flexible schedules, PowerSchool delivers.

The tangible results of this flexibility are nice: not having to commute; being able to attend events for their kids. But the best part of being flexible, they say, is the recognition of their hard work and the respect of their time.

Words to Live by

The flux of the past few years made all three panelists reflect on their choices and see the possibilities for growth around them. It allowed the time and space to reflect on what they truly wanted out of a career.

“There’s a lot of room for growth and a lot of support for growth, and for me, that keeps me here. So I’ve been at PowerSchool for about seven years, and just knowing that I can keep growing and changing and evolving has been a real win for me.”

- Emily Cohen

Having a supportive company that delivered opportunities for growth made their successful career pivots possible.

Changing your career can feel overwhelming. There are new things to learn. Imposter syndrome can rear its head. Yet there are a few things that can make the process easier. Here are the top tips from each panelist.

1. Talk to people

According to Ircka, your best bet is to make connections with the people in your community. You may be surprised by what you find.

Networking doesn’t have to be official or on LinkedIn. It could be as simple as chatting with other parents on the soccer field.  Your resume may get overlooked for not meeting the exact right criteria, but people will get you.

2. Hold out for what you really want

For Kristin, she wanted flexibility. And she was willing to wait for the right company to get it. Whatever it is that you truly want, keep looking for the company who has it. Be patient and find the right company for you.

Make the affirmation to yourself that what you’re looking for exists and hold out for it.

3. Rewrite yourself

Emily suggests rewriting your story to position yourself for the career you want. This can be literal, as in rewriting your resume and updating it with newly relevant information. It can also be aspirational, such as going after things that align with achieving your goals. For Emily, this was professional certification.

Above all else, have confidence in your skills and recognize the skills you bring to the table.

Parting Advice to Achieve your Career Goals 

We ended the session with parting advice from our PowerSchool panelists about how to best achieve your career goals. Here’s what they had to share.

  • Kristin: Take the next step and see where it goes, because you never know where things will take you.
  • Ircka: Don’t be afraid to take jobs that aren’t as glamorous. You will learn so many new things you never would have learned. Where you begin could be a great place to start to develop transferable skills.
  • Emily: Put yourself out there, have tenacity and go for it. You may have failures, but in the end, people won’t see that. Have patience in the process. You will grow.

We had an amazing time learning from our partners at PowerSchool. To find opportunities at future-focused companies like this, join our community today.

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