Our “DocuSign UP Career” blog series places the spotlight on employees who tell us about their first job (how they landed it, why they chose it) and key moments in their career that lead to greater learning or career momentum. At DocuSign, we believe in the next generation of leaders and want to help them get on the right career trajectory. That’s why we started DocuSign UP (University Program). This week we sat down with Whitney in Customer Success based in San Francisco to learn more about her career.

What do you do at DocuSign?

I’m the Director of Customer Success for Digital Strategy in pre- and post-sales. We do very specialized assessments of companies and their organizational readiness to digitize their transaction processes. We’re focused on higher-level digital strategy to help customers go paperless more quickly.

What was your first job after school?

I worked as a client consultant, basically an account manager, at Responsys.

Why did you choose that job?

I was looking at finance and banking jobs after my last semester in school and had lots of friends working in investment banking who weren’t happy. I started building websites for a nonprofit and saw an online posting for a job at Responsys and applied. Six weeks later, they reached out to me and flew me up to do in-person interviews. From there, it moved quickly.

Is it related to the type of work you do today?

Yes, it’s all customer-facing account management, customer success-type roles. I was managing enterprise accounts and learned how to interact with customers and manage internal teams doing the work. Now it’s a bit more strategic but the same skills apply.

Tell us about a pivotal moment in your career that helped propel you to another level.

My first pivot was moving with Responsys from California to New York. Because the NY office was a smaller office, I was exposed to different teams and got more ownership in a sales role. The experience helped me think about my career path and what I most gravitate to. It was also fun to live in New York and experience East Coast culture.

Have you had any important mentors in your life?

My dad has been a huge resource in terms of encouraging me to do things outside my comfort zone, like branching into management. I was a young manager at Responsys and my team was older and more experienced. So, my dad sent me management technique books. He had been at AT&T and knew how to navigate organizations, and he was a great sounding board for me.

How would you describe your career and the choices you’ve made?

Both moving up and side-to-side. I’ve had a range of titles depending on the size of the company. I’ve taken roles and made moves based on where I thought I could provide the most value for the company and what I could learn. And I’ve made lateral moves to pick up skills that would help me down the line.

What do you love most about your job?

In all the jobs I’ve had, my favorite part is working with different types of customers to help them build a program. I’ve seen and learned a lot that way, and it’s been the key theme in all the companies I’ve worked for.

What’s one piece of advice you wish you’d been given early on?

Be patient. Everything doesn’t happen at the stage you necessarily want it to, but you’ll still end up where you want to be. Focus on building your skills set and understanding the organization and how you can be impactful. That’s what will pay off in the long run.

Have you taken any risks in your career?

I had been at Oracle, which was very steady and very established, and I knew exactly what I was doing. I left Oracle to go to a small company, Heighten, which didn’t have a product in the market, but I took the risk because of the people I’d be working with. I’d had some past experience with some of the leaders but was unclear what I was walking into. It seemed exciting but there was a chance it could blow up in my face. While it didn’t become the huge company we hoped, the risk paid off because of what I learned. And the relationships I developed there are invaluable.

Have you ever faced a setback or had any kind of failure in your career?

I’ve made some odd steps. I took a job at a very large bank once because I was curious to see what it would be like to work on the client side, to be the person everyone was trying to sell to. While it was an interesting learning experience, it made me realize what I didn’t want to do with my career. I came out of that experience with real insight into what I’m passionate about doing.

Any specific tips you’d give someone about how to actually get a job? 

The key is networking: Find people you respect and bounce ideas off of them, talk to them about their past, the opportunities they had. Doors open and information flows when you do that. If you’re right out of college, tap into your parents’ friends who you find inspiring or interesting. Don’t have the mindset that they’re going to offer you a job, but instead be open to what you can learn from them. Start gathering information and insight from other people’s careers. Staying in touch with people is important when you’re out in the actual working world, networking with people you know and who trust you. It’s not revolutionary but it’s how I’ve gotten my last two jobs.

If not this job, what would you be doing?

I would love to do something outdoors, maybe as a professional skier or tennis player. It’s not realistic but if I could do anything, that’s what I’d be doing.

Think DocuSign might be a fit for you? Check out our job openings: [email protected]