Graduating college during the recent recession was a struggle for many, including marketer Dara M. Wilson. After taking a risk to move across the country and take a position at an eCommerce company, she honed her skills and snagged a position at Google. Here's her strategy for success.
Name: Dara M. Wilson
Title and Company: Product Marketing Manager, Google Fiber
Location: San Francisco, CA
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Her gig: I manage customer communications for Google Fiber. That includes everything from making sure our users know about the new content on their televisions, to helping them improve their Internet experience and inviting them to local events. When I hear a customer say, “I smile every time I get an email from Google Fiber,” it makes me feel like I’m doing something right. My favorite perk is our Talks@Google series. Any author, musician or politician could stop by campus and there are always surprises, such as exotic animals and concerts. Twice in my four years here I’ve been dragged to a mystery event and found myself at a magic show!
The journey: I graduated from college in 2009, and jobs of any kind were very hard to come by. Two people took a chance and hired me to do eCommerce merchandising at a company in San Francisco. That’s where I learned the ins-and-outs of commerce and how to write for customers. I was fortunate.
Inside her workplace: Google moves at a lightening-fast pace. You have to be able to keep up and pivot on a dime. We invest heavily in an idea, but we’re not afraid to cut our losses. You’ve got to get used to being nimble and diving into a project with a lot of ambiguity around how things are going to work.
Confessions of a Black woman in tech: The way I’ve tried to combat understanding the difference between genuine shortcomings on my part versus someone else’s biases is by learning how to objectively quantify my work. Being able to strive toward objective goals is a great confidence booster, and reaching them is a powerful resume booster!
Her secret to being a good manager: You can ignite passion that gets real results by motivating employees in a way that speaks to them. You can equally squash someone’s performance with a conflicting communication style. Invest the time to find out what works best for your team, and you’ll see great dividends.
Her career game-changer: As the Merchandising Manager for hardware on Google Play, I took pride in launching Chromecast in our store. The customer response was unparalleled in eagerness! I love my Chromecast and use it every single day to play YouTube videos, stream music, and binge on Netflix.
Her biggest lesson learned: There was an instance where a product that we were launching went live for the world to see a week early. My team was celebrating the arrival of some of our overseas teammates. We had to drop our s’mores and tacos and get the product off of the site immediately. The incident happened due to of an error by a brand new teammate. It really drove home how much of our institutional memory lived in employee brains instead of on paper. We implemented new systems to stop that from ever happening again.
Her work-life balancing act: Add your personal priorities to your calendar, and be vocal and respectful of them when they come up. People don’t know their request might be keeping you from something if you don’t tell them. But, if you do tell them, and blow off your personal event, they’ll treat your home-life just like you do: not a priority.
Her childhood dream: I was the typical overcommitted kid. I acted, sang in choirs, ran track, wrote stories and participated in cultural and civic organizations. I thought I would continue with all of those things and pursue a career in child psychiatry. I suppose I thought I was going to be the modern day Paul Robeson!
Smartest advice she’s received: Be cautious about internalizing other people’s truths about you without a close inspection first.
Her time-saving tips: Keyboard shortcuts! Hopping around my computer without using a mouse adds a lot of speed to my day.
How she relaxes: I like to have a lot of projects going on at once. When I’m not working, I’m writing for my storytelling blog, taking an acting class, helping out on the TWiB Prime podcast, making websites, or directing photo shoots. If I’m not doing any of that I’m watching lot of television or taking in a live comedy show. My favorite relaxing activity is the monthly(ish) book club I have with a few friends. We get together, talk books, drink wine, and craft. It’s wonderful.
Her superpower: I’m a master complimenter. I don’t believe in keeping positive thoughts to myself, so if I like your shirt, necklace, the way you handled a situation or the hilarious face you just made, I’m going to let you know. Compliments are free!
Her tech must-haves: If you see me outside of my home, I’ve got on headphones. I listen to podcasts, audiobooks and music. The mood-based playlists from Google Music are remarkably specific and always serve what I need. My favorite one right now is a soul station called “Damn Right I Am Somebody.”
Her beauty bag: MAC Rebel lipstick. It’s the sisterhood of the traveling lip color–looks good on everyone.
Her power accessory: I love statement necklaces, gold, and spikes.
Her theme song: “We Major” by Kanye West.