How Letting My “Nerd Flag Fly” Helped Me Land a Job I Love

Our mission here at The Muse is simple: to help you find your dream job. So, there’s nothing we love more than hearing about it when you do!

Today, we chatted with Alaina Ross, who has a pretty awesome job title at Shopify (seriously, it’s one of a kind). Her new role lets her interact with basically everyone at the company, and capitalize on her strengths in the admin field.

Read below to learn more about her story, then check out Shopify’s offices and see how you can land a great new gig of your own.

Tell us about yourself!

I am, by definition, a nerd. In high school, rather than hanging out at the mall, I wanted to hang out at Staples, ogling over the new Pilot pens. I pride myself in being very organized, logical, geeky, and I love organization, technology, and simplicity.

What’s your title at your new role, and what does this actually mean in terms of what you’re doing day to day?

My job title is literally “Wearer of Many Hats.” This means that I fill multiple roles within my team, including the role of office manager, events coordinator, executive assistant, culture specialist, and many more. I’m the only admin in the office, supporting a rapidly growing team of product folk.

What were you doing before you landed your new job?

Before I landed my job at Shopify, I was a production manager at a small film studio. The role was really similar—I supported a small team as the sole administrator.

What were you looking for in a job?

The biggest thing I was looking for in a job was work-life balance. In my previous role, I’d had some really long hours. I was starting to burn out and knew I needed to find a company that would support me when things got tough.

What attracted you to the job when you found it on The Muse?

I was attracted to the job because of the nebulous title. My skillset is so varied and spreads across industries, so I knew this position would give me the ability to flex all of my strengths and continue to develop more skills that I was passionate about.

Learn More About Working at Shopify

What’s something most people would find surprising about working at Shopify?

The organic culture. When looking for a job in the tech industry, most people talk about the perks, but at Shopify, the perks take a backseat to the culture that every employee lives at Shopify. For example, all the engineers, designers, and other team members come together to share a drink in the afternoon as peers. Shopify provides a ton of great opportunities for every person in every department to hang out in a relaxed, non-work setting.

What’s your favorite part so far about working at Shopify?

My favorite part about working for this company is the variety of people I interact with on a daily basis. Every single person I’ve encountered, either on Slack or in person, has been so incredibly nice and genuine. I can’t wait to get to know everyone more.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on so far?

The coolest project that I’ve been able to work on has been our merchant-facing programs. My office opens its doors to provide one-on-one, customer support to anyone that needs it, and I’ve worked on a few different programs that achieve this goal. It’s really neat that every single person in the company, regardless of their position, has a chance to interact, on a personal level, with our consumer base. You can tell that Shopify really cares about its customers.

Is there anything in particular you did during your application process that you think helped you stand out?

One thing that I did during my application process was to scrap my formula cover letter and start from scratch. I could tell that Shopify wouldn’t respond to a cover letter that sounded like it was built from a stiff template. I let my nerd flag fly high and wrote about the things I was passionate about and the ways that I identified with the company as a whole.

What advice would you have for someone who wants a job like yours?

Don’t be afraid to let your passion show. Often people feel like they need to hide parts of themselves to seem cool and confident, but being passionate about something is an incredibly valuable trait that companies are looking for. Skills can be taught—attitudes can’t.

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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