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Natalie Rios

Community Outreach Manager

San Jose, CA

New tasks often feel overwhelming until you gain the experience that makes them second nature.

I started out my career as an editor for a travel magazine. I didn’t really mind the work, but I wanted something more challenging. My sister sent me a posting for a content management position with a digital reading startup. The job was a seemingly perfect blend of my skills and interests, so I jumped at it.

However, soon after I joined Subtext, the company model shifted to focus on K12 education, and everything about my position changed. I was asked to take on the completely different and somewhat undefined role of teacher evangelist and trainer. I had no experience in sales, training or education. On top of that, I’m an introvert. I felt more than a little outside my comfort zone.

I knew I wanted to grow as an individual and make a serious impact on the company. I told myself that everything feels overwhelming at first and I should at least try. In a way, I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I knew jumping out of the nest was the right thing for me, even though it felt pretty awful.

I was fortunate to be surrounded by very supportive people, both at work and at home. My best friend reminded me that I’d taken huge leaps of faith in the past and assured me I’d pull through just fine. It also helped that my boss seemed to have more faith in my capabilities than I did. She never asked if I thought I could do it; she only asked if I was interested in trying.

I spent hours exploring the product. I asked lots of questions and spoke to so many teachers that the good calls started to outpace the difficult ones. I looked for opportunities to put in extra effort. I even helped a teacher troubleshoot a problem from a friend’s wedding reception. The more I did, the better I felt. 

Over time, I discovered that the job was something I could (and liked) doing. It was incredibly rewarding to see the company grow and know that I had something to do with its success. Sure, I made mistakes, worried about my progress and took on more than I could handle. But I also learned that it’s important to take risks and accept new opportunities, even when you’re not sure you’ll excel. I don’t think there’s anything worse than failing because you refuse to even try. I’m so glad I tried, and know I’ll do it again.