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EP 223: Using Salesforce to Career Transition after a 20-Year Career Break, with Kati Koenig

Kati koenig

Episode Description

Kati Koenig is Senior Salesforce Business Analyst at Liberty IT Solutions, a Booz Allen Hamilton Company. Kati took a 20-year career break from a sales and marketing career in the hospitality industry, during which she spearheaded a number of fundraising efforts and initiatives around her community and within the local schools. Knowing her abilities and potential, Kati’s husband suggested she try out learning the Salesforce platform as a first step to relaunching her career. With no idea whether she would like it or have any aptitude for it, Kati dove in and ended up getting two Salesforce certifications. These credentials led to her career relaunch and success in a fulfilling new career path. Listen to the full podcast to get the details of how she did it.

Read Transcript

Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO, and co-founder of iRelaunch. And your host. Today we welcome Kati Koenig. Kati took a 20 year career break from sales and marketing and the hospitality industry during which she spearheaded a number of fundraising efforts and initiatives around her community and within the local schools in an effort to upscale during her relaunched journey, she began to learn the Salesforce platform and achieved two certifications. In this episode, we'll speak with Kati about her experience upskilling and how it led her down a fulfilling new career. Katie welcome to 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch.

Kati Koenig: Thanks Carol. I'm so excited to be here.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Thank you so much for being here and we're so interested in hearing about your return to work, especially after a 20 year career break and how you went from being on a long career break to this whole upskilling phase and then relaunching your career. But before we get into that, can we start with hearing a little bit about your background and what you did prior to your career break and what led to your career break in the first place?

Kati Koenig: Sure. As you mentioned, I was in sales and marketing in the hospitality industry and was living out west in Colorado with my husband. And, he actually had an opportunity to switch careers. He also was in the hospitality industry and we had made a decision to move back east to the Atlanta area just so happened that he was moving into an industry that was a hundred percent commission.

It was a little scary, but we were really excited about the opportunity but it just so happened probably within the first, it was within less than a year, moving back to Atlanta and he switching careers. I became pregnant with our first daughter, so it wasn't great timing, but we always knew that when we started our family, that I was going to stay home full-time with them.

And it was, it was certainly a blessing, but within, I guess within just a few short years I had three children and was home with them full time. Like a lot of parents, I thought perhaps when they were school age, I would reenter the workforce. And so started dabbling with that idea.

But it just so happened. my, father was having some health issues around that same time. He was struggling with dementia and we made a decision to move him in with us. He moved down to Georgia and was living with us. And so I was very thankful to have that opportunity, but it definitely being part of the sandwich generation at that point, it was not a good opportunity or good timeframe for me start looking at going back into the workforce. I continued working in the schools, working in the community, helping to take care of my father. That was, it was about a five-year timeframe and he passed away in 2013. And, six months after that I ended up dealing with my own health issues. I had a cancer diagnosis at that point and before I knew it, my oldest daughter was starting high school. And so as much as I thought, I would just take a shorter break as far as, going back to the workforce, it ended up being much longer than I had originally anticipated.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Kati. Thank you for talking to us about such a personal journey there. We really appreciate it you sharing, it's very generous and I think many in our community can relate to, different parts of your career break and maybe all of it. It's so interesting to talk to Relaunchers when we invariably here, I only thought I was going to be out for a short time and then the next thing so many years went by. So here's another example of that. So can you bring us back to the time when you started thinking about returning to the workforce? Was there you said your daughter was in high school, all of a sudden. Was that the moment?

And then what happened from there? How did you think about what you wanted to do?

Kati Koenig: It definitely was around that timeframe. She was in high school looking into college and then I had two more quickly behind her. And, I just realized that my mom responsibilities were starting to lessen and I was getting a little bit more time back.

I wasn't, kids are becoming more independent and driving and all those kinds of things. They don't necessarily need us as much so to speak. And so I just, I really started thinking about, what could that look like for me to go back into the workforce? But again, I had a pretty significant time gap. And as far as the recruiters are concerned, that is not a plus. I think it's more of a red flag on your resume when you put that out there. And so I really had to do some soul searching and just think what did was sales and marketing, because that was my previous background. Was that the direction I wanted to go in, or I also started looking at, this is a great opportunity.

I could pursue just about anything really. I realized that I could learn a lot of new things. And so I tried to learn it lean into the process per se. But I realized too, I had to, I was going to have to upskill. I need to make myself relevant again as far as just the technology has changed and just a lot of different things.

And, so my husband, being that he's in commercial real estate, he uses the Salesforce platform to manage his business, his clients and his business. He had suggested maybe I look into learning Salesforce. He knew that I've been technically minded as far as, and have worked with a variety of different platforms when doing some of my different, volunteer work with managing foundations and fundraising efforts and doing some project management and what not.

He just thought that it might be a really good opportunity and Salesforce itself is just such a huge company and the opportunities, have just been growing exponentially over the past two years. And, so that just planted the seed, oh, maybe I could try this. And then use Salesforce as a way to reenter the workforce.

Carol Fishman Cohen: So Kati, you're almost talking about this was a new beginning it's that you had taken a 20 year career break. So you were thinking, do I completely start over with a clean slate and look at things that are new or do I do something that was somewhat related to my prior background?

In a way you did both, you are doing something that was related to your prior background, but it is completely a brand new world in terms of Salesforce, it didn't exist at all back then. So it's of course not only related to sales, but fundamental to sales organizations using Salesforce, but it's a brand new platform, for someone who's been out for 20 years.

So can you talk a little bit about how you felt, approaching this new technology platform. You had mentioned that during your volunteer work, you were pretty open to using different platforms. You must have learned them. Can you tell us what they were and how that helped you approach even thinking about learning this new platform of salesforce.

Kati Koenig: Sure. It's funny that you were saying as far as just a Salesforce, not being around 20 years ago, I've often equated it to, I saw a funny meme one time, Salesforce of course is a CRM or a customer relationship tool. Back when I was in sales and marketing, we literally had the Rolodex.

We were still using business cards, but the technology that I had learned how to use an act database, when I was, just managing both in the sales world and then again, in some volunteer roles. I'm certainly was most familiar with and utilizing Google suite, Microsoft and, but my brain thinks a little bit like a spreadsheet in a sense of, and so Salesforce really takes the data that you might enter into a spreadsheet, into a flat spreadsheet, so to speak and be able to make it more robust and multi-dimensional and give users insights into that data in a very different way. And being able to report on that data and pull various metrics out of it to make it more useful and umbrella it.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay, let me just dive in there and ask you a little more, cause I'm thinking about the audience right now, feeling like whoa. Okay she already obviously is thinking in this way. Maybe it was easy for her.

How did you take the first step? Were you intimidated? Did you have one of these, like a fearless learning, growth mindset that they talk about? And did you stumble around at the beginning or is it the way they lay it out for you? Pretty logical and allows you to approach it step-by-step. How does that all work with Salesforce?

Kati Koenig: One of the things that I have been most impressed with by Salesforce is their ecosystem. Salesforce is certainly a cloud-based platform that people learn and use, but what makes it really special is the other people using it and teaching about it. And in this ecosystem, this whole environment of other companies using it. That being said there's so many resources out there to be able to use it. And it might be from an end-user perspective or from a really highly technical developer perspective. I was looking at it more from an end user perspective, on the very surface level of maybe I could just help a company set up their database within Salesforce and make it work for their specific needs to be able to customize it for them.

So definitely I would not say that I am a technical person by any means, that is a different skill set. But I did understand the concept of a CRM of being able to maintain a database and then get it to track the information that you needed to, whether it was from a sales perspective or in my case as a volunteer and being able to track databases of donors and whatnot.

So that was really the perspective I was coming up from. And, Salesforce, I think it was maybe in 2014, they had launched an initiative called Trailhead online. It was an online learning tool and they started it as a way for end users to have a resource to go to so that they could learn more and get the most out of their platform.

However, they were, whatever circumstances they may be in. And Trailhead has just become this really neat learning tool online. And, I forget what the statistics are now for how many people are using it, but, you can go online. It's a free tool and it's very intuitive in the sense that you can go on there and start at the very beginning and learn the absolute basics, but then it can start taking you into all kinds of different areas of the Salesforce world, where if you want to go down that developer route, you can start learning skills to be a developer, or if you're an end user and you want to learn about reporting. It's a really neat and fun way to learn Salesforce. It just so happened that when my husband had mentioned Salesforce, I actually, I won't forget this.

He had mentioned it and I remember a few weeks later I got sick with the flu and I was, and it was one of those where I was quarantining myself and you strive to stay away from the family. And I have my laptop. I'm like, man, maybe I'll try this Salesforce thing. And so I started doing some modules on Trailhead and it just, it was fun.

They gamified it. And so it was just a neat way to start learning something new. And I think it was exciting for me and it just, again, it was fun to be expanding my knowledge base a little bit. And so I kinda got hooked.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Let me make sure I understand this. So if I'm a person, I know Salesforce is this platform and that's all I know. I could actually look at something called Trailhead. And what, what is the URL for that?

Kati Koenig: It's actually it's trailhead.com.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay. So I would go to trailhead.com and then it will say, start here, like literally, like they call it Trailhead because you're on a trail or something? And you started the beginning of the trail? Is that literally how it works?

Kati Koenig: It is. It really is and it's and then of course, just to make it more fun, they've got these great little characters, their Salesforce characters are there and it's just a really neat learning tool. And so yes, you can literally get started for free, you set up an account and then you can start down, and of course there's not just one trail.

There's like thousands of trails as far as depending what path you may want to go on.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wait, stop there for a second. Okay. So I go to trailhead.com. I set up an account. I'm looking at the different trails. Maybe I pick one, I start to do go down the trail and do whatever it tells me.

And then all of a sudden does it say, now you need to take the course to do X or something in order to get to the next stage of the trail or like what happens?

Kati Koenig: It does. So once you finish a module, you start to earn points and then you can start earning more points to achieve different levels. Again, they gamified it, which, just really seems to appeal to a lot of people obviously. The really the neat thing about it too, is that they've really broken down the barriers to learning. So it is attainable for anyone to get on here and learn and take it as far as they may want to. But yes, you would earn points and then, you can earn different badges and whatnot.

That was definitely the beginning stages. And as I started getting more into it and realizing that, I really liked learning this tool and I saw the act, the potential that it had. I really started thinking about, gosh, maybe I could start freelancing and helping nonprofits implement Salesforce as a tool to be able to take their fundraising to the next level or manage their databases. So that was really the beginning stage, but the next step then is certification. So I realized after spending some time learning trail head, I thought there was just so much potential here for possibly working with nonprofits to help them learn how to implement it. Helping nonprofits move from that spreadsheet mentality to actually using a robust database where they can then have more insight into their donors all of the different projects that they may be working on.

So that was really, that was my initial thought process. But, in order to really go somewhere in the Salesforce ecosystem and start to land a Salesforce job, there are certification paths in place. And yes, you can learn Salesforce as an end-user but ultimately to be able to start pursuing a career in Salesforce, you do have to consider getting certifications and their administrator certification is the first level.

It's the gatekeeper certification so to speak. Whether someone may want to go down that development path or be a developer. Or perhaps be an administrator and do more declarative type work. You can, you still need to get that first admin certification. So I had reached a point after probably, a few months of working on Trailhead.

I started thinking, okay, I think I'm going to set this goal. I'm going to get my admin certification and then see if I can't start actually working with some small companies or non-profits. So at that point I felt like I had a plan in place then, and then I started really on Trailhead using their trails for admin certification, starting to learn the different items that were all involved with the certification process.

And it probably took me, I'd say I spent a solid three months, in between, life, but a solid three months really diving into the resources on trail head and a number of other resources online. I was, but I was primarily self-taught up until that point, when I took my admin certification and, but I didn't pass it my first time.

And I was really, I felt a little defeated. The good thing was I talked to several people and again, within just the whole environment of Salesforce, so many people say they have to take these certifications more than once before passing them. So it's not a given, it's not one of those things where, there's definitely certifications out there where you just take them and, it's open note or you can maybe you just pass them without a whole lot of effort. Salesforce has definitely created their certifications. There's a lot of credibility that comes with them because you have to study, you have to be prepared and ultimately you really need a hands on experience.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Hold on a second. I want to make sure that I'm following you here and that it's our audience can follow too. All right. So you did, you went far along the trails on Trailhead. You decided you were going to go for this administrators for Salesforce certification. So do you register for it? Do you pay for it? And then is the certification, the test itself, or is there like a whole course that you have to take before you even take the test?

Kati Koenig: No. So the certification is a paid certification, and there is no courses required to take it. You can prepare however you see fit. So again, that's why some people may be self-taught like I was in this situation or there are courses you can take, which will help you prepare for it as well.

But you pay for the certification. And I went to an offsite location.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Basically show up to it. You don't do this online on your own computer?

Kati Koenig: No you can, but in order to do you've, it's very stretchy. I think now you have to have two cameras to show you and your work surface and make sure that there's no notes.

Again it is, they very much want to make sure that individuals taking the certifications are truly taking the certification, not using any kind of, other tools or notes or anything while they're doing it.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay how long is the test and is it multiple choice? And is it like, do you have to solve problems and what do you actually do in the past?

Kati Koenig: So the certification exams are typically between 60, 65 questions and you've got 90 minutes to take them and it's all online. So they are multiple choice questions, but, depending on like with the administrator one, it really their questions about utilizing the platform and different rules around using the platform.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And then do you get your score like right away? And then, if you pass or not?

Kati Koenig: You do, and, so that's that moment of truth when you're sitting there and you click submit. And then you just, you wait to see did you pass or fail? And there's definitely that moment. Like I said, my first one, I didn't pass and that, oh my, I just had that pit in my stomach.

I kinda of, I went back and, you do get an email with a breakdown as far as your scores per section. So there's, I think there's nine different sections or, knowledge areas that they test you on so I was able to see, okay, where were my weakest areas on the test? So then I went back and I was like, all right, I'm just, you know how to let my bootstraps and keep on going. And so when I was able to keep studying and really dive into those areas where my weaknesses were.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And then after you had that certification, did you start applying right away and what did you apply for, or did you start taking additional certifications before you felt like you were really ready to apply for whatever roles you were interested in and how do you even know what roles you were interested in?

Kati Koenig: It's interesting because I think, you hear this term a lot nowadays is the imposter syndrome. And I think as both a relauncher and being new to the Salesforce world. I was definitely having a lot of that imposter syndrome. And I was trying to think about, okay, What do I want to do?

And what do I need to do to be the most qualified and wanting to be more qualified before I actually applied. And in all of those types of things were going through my mind. And timing wise, like I said, I did, I was still working with some nonprofits. And so I had a little bit of hands-on experience trying to dabble in Salesforce for them.

And, also worked with another small company trying to help them just learn more about their Salesforce platform and get them up to speed on it. So I was doing a little bit, I was doing it all pro bono. I wasn't working and getting paid for it, but trying to figure out, what maybe my next step would be.

And I, because of my hospitality background, I've always been very service focused and I'm also a people person. And I thought, I think I would really enjoy the consulting side of it. But around the time that I started having this realization was when COVID hit. And, so COVID really in a lot of ways kick things into high gear for me because my husband was in commercial real estate.

And as you can imagine, during COVID, the commercial state industry was very much in flux. And during that time, I just decided to, dive more into the consultancy skills. And the one thing I would recommend for anyone who may consider learning Salesforce, yes, you can. There are so many resources you can definitely teach yourself and be self-taught early on, by using Trailhead and again, and just a number of other companies that are out there with websites to help people learn. But it is more challenging that way. And so during COVID I started looking for an actual course that I could take. I felt like I just to take it to the next level I wanted to work with somebody who I could ask questions of and they could really teach me their best practices. And I found a group out of the UK called Supermoms, Heather Black, the founder of the company, also had a, a very large company where she was implementing Salesforce for nonprofits. But she also was doing training courses on the administrative side of Salesforce. And she had also started a course on the consultancy side of Salesforce. And so that was a real game changer for me, because I was able to then have both she, who has that wealth of knowledge and experience who I could just glean wisdom from and best practices.

But I had a whole cohort of other people who were trying to do the same thing, and we were all at different levels of knowledge and, having that support system. And again, this is keep in mind, this is the middle of COVID. So it was super accessible because we were all, this was the new zoom world. So it was great because it was all online, but, it was an awesome connection point during that stage.

And we would meet once a week. We had those curriculum that we were following. And so we met once a week, but then we also had, the, self kind of self guided curriculum that we were also working towards on our own time. And she also had a part of, it was a coaching module. And so once a week, she would do coaching for all of the people in her courses.

And, that too was just something that I didn't realize I needed it until I was engaged in it. Being able to really look at what are my skills, what are my strengths? And up until this point, I had not done a LinkedIn profile. I hadn't updated my resume. I was like, I'm like, how do I make up for this 20 year gap?

And, and so just trying to figure out how to market myself to get an actual job in the Salesforce ecosystem? So again, so that was the next step. So I entered into this consultancy course with her and then prepared myself to take my next certification, which was called sales cloud consultancy.

And that was my second certification that I achieved. And yeah. So then that was the next step.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. Okay and so what happened after that?

Kati Koenig: So after I got my consultancy, I was still involved in her course, but one of the coaching sessions that she did, we literally, I remember this so distinctly we were all online doing our little zoom call and it was on building our LinkedIn profile.

And so while we were on the call, we were also on our LinkedIn accounts, dabbling and trying to work through some things and we had each other for ideas and we were all brainstorming. And once I created my LinkedIn profile, I think that was probably a next really big win for me, because again, I have this imposter syndrome and I was like, who am I to be on LinkedIn?

that was a little intimidating. But then once I got on LinkedIn, I guess I forgot how much I enjoy networking and talking to people. And the Salesforce community on LinkedIn is huge. It's just a really neat community of people, again, resources, success stories, people asking questions and supporting other people.

It was really great. So I started networking with all these Salesforce people in addition to trying to reconnect with old employers or, people from my university being able to reconnect with that community. And, I found it really exhilarating to be honest, to be able to start talking to people. And really, I felt like I started owning my journey a bit more where I was able to confidently say, yes, I have taken this break, but I am also I'm up-skilling and this is what I'm doing.

And once I got, a little bit more into LinkedIn, I started applying for some jobs and a lot of failed interviews, but every interview I took that was not a success, I just chose to learn from it. I also chose to network and reach out to people. And, even if there were jobs that maybe weren't within my skillset, I still wanted to talk to people to find out, what are you looking for?

And what is it that maybe I can do, to prepare for a position or a job like this? So that was really, my next stage was just trying to talk to a lot of different people and figure out where I was at and what my next steps were going to be from a career development standpoint.

Carol Fishman Cohen: I love how this journey is evolving and we're getting the play by play. I really feel it. All right, so you're exhilarated now. You're, I love the fact that you felt initially do I even deserve to be on LinkedIn? You think about that you're coming off of a 20 year career break and you have to get beyond that and realize, yes, I belong here.

I belong on LinkedIn. One question I want to ask you about, because you've mentioned the Trailhead community, the Salesforce communities. So are these like private Facebook groups, are they in the trailhead network, like, where are these communities?

Kati Koenig: It's a combination. There are Facebook groups that you can join some private, some open. There's definitely a big business I think that's been made out of, Idea of studying for certifications. There are a lot of people who are, let's just be honest. They're making money off of helping to train people to get their certifications and they're sharing, their skills and whatnot. So that again, definitely available on Facebook and, all over the internet and through Trailhead. Part of Trailhead, there is a side to trail head where you can ask questions and get involved with smaller groups, like community groups within trail head, even, and localized herds there's groups all over the country.

Once they started. I think they're starting to, again also, but yes. it is very easy to find and plug into groups in your local community of Salesforce.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow that's pretty amazing. Can you give us a timeline here? How long at this point, how long was it since I'd say since the beginning of when you started all this?

Kati Koenig: So I think back to okay, that week when I have the flu was January of 2019, and then the end of May, 2019 was when I passed my Salesforce certificate, the first one, my administrator certification. And then, for about, I guess the remainder of that year was when I started, dabbling a little bit in working with some nonprofits and in small groups.

And then that took me to the beginning of 2020 when COVID hit. So it was probably like a seven to eight month timeframe where I'd had my administrator certification, but I was still trying to find ways to get hands-on experience in the platform.

Carol Fishman Cohen: That's when you start with the consulting and then when did you pass the next, the exam?

Kati Koenig: And that one I passed, it was October of 2020.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay. All right.

Kati Koenig: So that's a fall last year.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And is that when you attended the iRelaunch returned to work conference.

Kati Koenig: I did so during that time, I was knew I was learning the Salesforce skills and I was up-skilling, but I still felt there was this gap in companies that were offering jobs to be able to help someone up-skill or help someone, come back up to speed.

I just felt gosh, there's all these internships at this point, my one daughter was in college and I'm thinking she's applying to internships. I can't apply to an internship I'm too old. And so at that point, I had come across your Ted talk as a matter of fact, and was so intrigued by the idea of returnships now that this is brilliant.

Yes, we need more programs like this for people, no matter what their circumstances are. People sometimes life happens and we don't necessarily have the privilege or the opportunity to be able to maintain a consistent, career or resume without having breaks. And sometimes that requires getting our foot back in the door.

And unless you find a company that's willing to just give you a chance, it's challenging to get to find those companies. And so anyway, so the idea of returnships to me was just so brilliant and that companies would actually, look for individuals like myself who have, soft skills. I've got a lot of marketable skills, but be willing to invest in me to maybe teach me a new skill set and help me get up to speed in a new career or in a new industry.

And, I've often thought about, I think there's a saying as far as our resumes are concerned. I think it takes a really special recruiter to be able to see your potential versus your actual career trapped on your resume. And it's hard to find someone that's going to see that in you.

And so the returnships to me, I feel like a company that has a returnship in place is looking at potential, not necessarily the experience or the gaps in experience.

Carol Fishman Cohen: What happened when you were at the conference? Because I know that led you to get hired and I wanted to know what was your experience? What was the actual interaction and what happened after that?

Kati Koenig: Again, this was where I think COVID really worked in my favor because the conference was online. In the past, whereas I might not have been able to attend the conference if it was live or in person somewhere. It really expanded my, the ability for me to attend and, part of registering for the conference was of course giving a resume to them.

And it just so happened that one of the companies that was there saw my resume before the conference even started. And they saw that I had two Salesforce certifications. And so I had two recruiters reach out to me before the conference even started. And I actually started the interview process. And then when the conference did start, I attended several of the sessions and just continue to, really feel more confident about owning my gap, owning my time off from the workforce and really, being able to embrace the idea of still having those skills and being able to bring value to a company, despite that break. And so it was the conference itself, as far as the sessions that I was listening to were all very empowering. And then of course the actual connection that I made with my now employer was priceless. So within, I think I probably, I think the conference was in October or the beginning of November that year. And, by the end of November, I had a job offer and then started with the company the end of December.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. So you were also in our Facebook group at the time, right? Were you interactive in that group were you, like interacting with people in that group? Were you mainly in observer while you were in that stage where you were looking?

Kati Koenig: No, I actually, I did try to get engaged in there. I'm not a big social media person by nature, but I did find that community to be a really great place to connect with people. And it was very positive and encouraging.

And so I did try to stay engaged in there. I did post a few times about my own journey and learning Salesforce or some of the struggles of trying to relaunch and really, and I'll say I've met some amazing women through that Facebook group. Some of us have connected offline. And still, as a matter of fact, I spoke to one a few weeks ago.

It was a really pivotal part of my journey to be able to connect with some of these other women and validate that we're going through a lot of the same, a lot of the same things. The reality is relaunching is not easy It's definitely not a cakewalk, but there's a lot of women who and men, a lot of people who are interested in relaunching and, I think to be able to embark on that journey with others makes it so much easier than trying to do it yourself.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah, I totally agree with you. There's an empowering, powerful and empowering to be with a group of people who are moving through this experience together who really get it. And I should say that our, iRelaunch return to work for which is a private Facebook group.

We right now have over 8,000 Relaunchers from our community. And it is probably the most vibrant, interactive section of our community and people who are in that community talk about what you're talking about, Kati, that people are very frank there's a lot of, interaction and advice going on among peers, people who are in the middle of relaunching.

And then we also have our coaches on there who are chiming in with advice and I get on there myself sometimes and interact. But yeah, I feel like that's a very special part of our community is what goes on there. So Kati, since you started your role and we can say, what company was, it was Liberty IT that was on at our iRelaunch conference who hired you, at the time, since then, it's been acquired by Booz Allen Hamilton and you have been promoted. And can you tell us a little bit about how that happened?

Kati Koenig: yes. So when I was, when I was hired, I was actually hired in a role that they refer to as a solutions engineer. So that would be someone who is basically a Salesforce administrator doing more of the declarative side development side of Salesforce. And, in one of the things that I forgot to mention with regards to, iRelaunch and the conference was the reason that my now employer Liberty IT was there is because, one of the directors at the time, Cary Vogtman was a relauncher herself and I believe she was one of your first cohorts of Relaunchers several years ago, very early on. Okay. And she's very passionate about trying to help women who are trying to renter the workforce in ITspecifically And so that was why she was at the iRelaunch conference. And, so I'm thankful to her for being able to recognize my potential

Carol Fishman Cohen: I.

That's one thing to think about

think Relaunchers hiring other Relaunchers because they know about the caliber of the person who's in the relaunch community.

Kati Koenig: That's right from that conference I believe there were probably six or seven other women maybe that were hired as well. And so now within Liberty, we've got this great little cohort of Relaunchers and it's just, it's like taking the Facebook group, now it's a little bit smaller and it's internal to our company, but it's just something that's because now that we've relaunched, there's a whole other set of things that you experience after you've launched. And so it's nice that we each other to share that as well. But when I was hired by Liberty, I was brought on as a solutions engineer. And that is, what they consider a Salesforce admin, actually doing some of the declarative technical side of, development on a project.

And before I even finished my onboarding with the company, project manager had reached out to me and he had seen my resume. And he said that he noticed all of my experience with my volunteer work and my, some of the project management that I had done. And, just had a good sense that he felt like I would be a good business analyst and which was actually a role that I was thinking long-term that was the direction that I wanted to go. It's a more client facing role as a consultant, but he saw on my resume my experience knew that I had a gap, but saw my potential. And I was so grateful for that. And he has continued to be an amazing mentor of mine. So he brought me onto his project as a business analyst, shortly right after I was hired.

So I started on a small project with the company. And then, actually within two weeks, that project was rolled onto or underneath a much larger project, it's a modernization effort that the, VA is going through right now. And, so I continued working with him in a much larger team at this point. And there were several, there were four business analysts. I was one of them. And then, we had a senior business analyst who was another mentor of mine throughout this process. And she really helped me learn the different skills of my position at that point. And then as of, I guess it was probably been about three or four weeks ago.

I had received a promotion to become a senior business analyst myself right now. And, so it's been really exciting. It's been a neat journey.

Carol Fishman Cohen: There are so many things that you've just talked about that I want to highlight. One of them that really stood out to me was your boss looking at the volunteer work that you did during your career reign and seeing project management experience and seeing demonstrated success there as a volunteer and that being one of the qualifications, one of the qualifiers that led him to say you should be a business analyst like right now. And then you got the promotion and I'm congratulations. I'm so excited for you that you've done. It's just terrific. And I hope everyone listening, is feeling inspired and encouraged, by your pathway once you've been hired. So we don't always, get into details about someone's experience right when they're hired at the beginning of phases.

So this is really exciting and very helpful. So thank you. Kati, we're winding up now and I want to ask you the question that we ask all of our podcasts guests, which is what is the best piece of advice that you have for a relaunch your audience, even if it's something that we've already talked about today.

Kati Koenig: It's definitely hard to narrow it down to just one, but I would say, as I mentioned, relaunching is it's not easy and it definitely takes some effort, but I really think that if you lean into the process, there are so many amazing opportunities that come out of it, not just from a sheer job standpoint, it may sound cliche, but it truly is about the journey of relaunching.

If you really lean in, it can be a time of self discovery and I think. I realized along the way my biggest cheerleaders were my husband and my children. And for my children to see me go through this process and fail, but pick myself back up again and keep on going and seeing how I persevered through that, it was just so great to see them rally behind me and really be encouragers throughout this process. So I guess that would be my advice. Yes, it's difficult and, yes, there's going to be ups and downs and it's going to feel overwhelming, but just lean into it, surround yourself with people who are going to continue encouraging you, whether it's through the iRelaunch group, that is a fantastic place to be, your family, other relaunchers. Just don't be afraid to connect with people who are in your same season right now, and that can continue to just be by your side throughout.

Carol Fishman Cohen: That's such great advice. And I just want to highlight what you said about your kids watching you start this process failed, get back up again.

The role modeling there is so important and now the triumph, seeing you get the role, get promoted, just the whole journey as you're saying, you are demonstrating by going through the journey the way you did. You're putting out there such a great example for your kids. So that in itself is really wonderful.

Kati,, thank you so much for joining us.

Kati Koenig: Thank you, Carol has been great. I'm glad that I could share my story and thank you for all that you do, because again, I think had I not seen that Ted talk, the journey would have been a lot harder trying to get to this point. So I'm very grateful for all that you're doing to advocate for Relaunchers and for returnship type programs. I think it's fantastic.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Thank you, Kati. I'm very glad you saw the Ted talk too. And it started everything that happened and you have this incredible result right now. Thanks again for joining us. Thanks to our audience for listening to 3, 2, 1, I iRelaunch the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories.

I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host for more information on our iRelaunch conferences and events, to sign up for our job board and access our return to work tools and resources go to irelaunch.com. And if you liked this podcast, be sure to rate it on apple podcasts and your favorite podcast platform, and be sure to share this podcast with a friend on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media.

Thanks for joining us.


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