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 Marie in Developer Programs & Evangelism based in Seattle to learn more about her career.

What do you do at DocuSign?

I am the Vice President of Developer Programs and Evangelism. I was hired to build this function from the ground up at DocuSign, since we noticed an increasingly high volume of transactions through our API. It’s all about how we create the best experience for developers to build apps with the DocuSign API.

What was your first job after school?

My first job was with a marketing agency. We did full service marketing for customers like Crate & Barrel. We did everything from database acquisition to merchandising and business strategy.

Why did you choose that job?

I was sitting on the beach with my friend from Northwestern University, and I was bemoaning the fact that the plan I had in my head wasn’t working out. I was going to get my PhD in Econ at Penn, but got cold feet at the last minute. I also interviewed in investment banking—but what I learned from my friends in the space drove me away. I was so sure I was headed in the right path, and it all fell apart. My friend said “come work for my dad”! It was not the job I planned to have—but it was interesting and a big challenge. And it led me into hi- tech.

Is it related to the type of work you do today? And what did you learn from it?

I learned how to work with customers on end-to-end marketing plans. It was cool to see the progression of something from conception to execution.  I also learned that I loved database and merchandising strategy. It never occurred that I could work in marketing and still be challenged with data driven/scientific projects.

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

As part of my job at the agency, I would go to conferences put on by the direct marketing association. I met a more senior female who would later help me with my resume and who gave me career advice. She told me that I should go to a tech company in the valley instead of a cool upscale retailer with a glamourous catalogue. She also pushed me to take a step back and look at the leader and the company itself. I interviewed and got the job.

The second pivotal moment is when I spent 4-5 years in direct marketing and corporate marketing at Borland, and I wanted to move into product marketing. I turned down a promotion in the direct marketing path to make this move, and it led me closer to engineering. I felt I was a voice at the table when it came to product. A year later, I was at MSFT and my career took off.

Did you have any important mentors in your life (not at DocuSign) who helped you? How did you meet them and develop that relationship and what was the most important thing they taught you or helped you with?

I’ve had mentors teach me a lot of things, one of the most important things in general was that anytime you take a new job, look around you, identify some of the biggest challenges, and look who can help you overcome those challenges. One of my mentors helped me meet the right people, and helped me navigate the organization. Another mentor helped me with product positioning and messaging challenges. It’s about having people in your field who you can bounce ideas off of, help you navigate, and potentially help you land your next job. You can be so much more successful when you are willing to ask for help. It’s as simple as asking someone to coffee and asking questions! A truth I’ve learned is most people are happy to give a little time and help.

Looking back on your career (so far) has it been a straight path of successive responsibilities in one area/function or has it been more of a jungle gym where you go up and down and side to side? How would you describe your career and the choices you made?

I would describe my career as non-linear. When I was young, I threw myself into my job and took on things before I was asked—I got more responsibility. When I made the first switch to product marketing, that was a functional shift.  Add in company sizes, locations, industries—there were a lot of new challenges. At Microsoft, I had tons of different roles that gave me exposure to marketing at a company-wide level. It allowed me to learn all the different areas and what I liked.

What’s the advice you’d give to a college junior or senior breaking into the job market in your country?

First, get an internship. I have an intern right now who is about to head to college. I wish I had the opportunity and understanding to do internships when I was her age! Getting exposure to companies and projects while still in school is super impactful.

Second, minor in computer science – especially if you are a young woman. It is good to get a solid grounding in technology to work in the sector. It will help immeasurably.

Third, take advantage of your network (including your parents!) and get experience at companies. Utilize the career development resources at your university.

Fourth, interview for everything. Don’t just go for one thing. Use interviews to learn.

Finally, be persistent and drive towards things you are excited about.

Interested in working at DocuSign? Check out our open positions.