Alum Alex Diaz (’12) answers ‘What is working at Twitter like?’

Alex DiazEver since graduating in 2012, Alex Diaz has been making moves in his career from starting at global advertising firms Razorfish and Wunderman to becoming the Product Marketing Specialist for Xbox with a marketing consultation firm called Projectline. On top of volunteering on the UW Department of Communication Alumni Board and working on the HR Tech startup MyUnfold, Diaz recently took a job at Twitter – read about his work there and what it took to earn this dream opportunity.

(Spoiler alert: Twitter helped him land the job at Twitter).

What is your new title at Twitter?

“I am an Account Coordinator with Twitter’s Global Revenue Direct Sales Organization (also known as the DSO team), where I focus within the tech vertical on clients like Microsoft, Apple, and HP. The DSO team works with about 250 of the largest advertisers in the world to help grow their business using Twitter. The goals of advertisers range from brand-building to direct-response.”

What are your main duties?

“It’s quite the change! For the longest time I was working on strategy and project management related work and while strategy was something I found passion with at first – I learned it wasn’t something I wanted to do long-term, especially at an agency. My major reasons were that I found myself planning or building ideas for campaigns and seeing that the execution portion could have been better – I wanted to be the person that made it better. I wanted to get out of the sidelines and affect the bottom-line. I wouldn’t be able to do that from a strategist role.

“So I decided to take my sales, strategic, and digital-minded skills away from the agency life and directly into the tech world, specifically to work on a product that I love to use and talk about – that product was Twitter.

“My day-to-day varies greatly, but much of my role is focused on providing tactical support for clients, managing day-to-day processes to optimize ad campaigns, and frequently doing an analysis of consumer behaviors, interests, and conversations to give advertisers insight into ways they can better target customers that actually care or need their product or service.”

Twitter logoWhat was the process like for getting recognized by Twitter and applying?

“I got a message about an opening at the Seattle office that was way above my skillset and not a good fit – but when I looked into other roles they had, I found one that I was definitely qualified for. The first thing I did was apply online; the second thing I did was hit up all my contacts via email, Twitter, and LinkedIn for direct lines to Twitter to meet someone new. I wanted to get in touch with one employee and learn the insides of the company. Turns out, an old co-worker saw a tweet I wrote and had a friend of a friend who worked at Twitter in San Francisco, so we connected and touched base on the phone. I got to ask all my nervous questions, learn about the company, and really figure out where I was applying to – which gave me great confidence. From there it led to my first phone interview and two more to follow, including a three-hour in person interview at the office. Overall it was a two-month process from the day I first found out to my offer.”

What do you like most about your new job?

“I started my career working on startups trying to solve real problems with everyday people – that means a lot to me. Working on a product that I use every day that has become a part of cultural movements and has influenced every social and communications service since, even offline, is humbling and a surreal feeling. Twitter is the ideal balance of fun and very cool work. You get all the resources to be awesome – smart people, free food, unlimited learning opportunities. They really value people here and invest heavily in you; that support is crucial for me to be fearless in my work. My colleagues are extremely smart people that you would grab a beer with, and it feels amazing to work with others that emulate the ‘hustle’ mentality I bring to my work ethic every day.”

What advice do you have for young professionals looking to work for a huge well-known name, like Twitter?

“Prepare an elevator pitch of your current and future goals. Imagine that you run into your CEO in the hallway and they ask you what you’re working on. You’ve only got 30 seconds. This shouldn’t be just a rhetorical exercise – you should always be able to concisely explain what you’re working on, what’s driving it, how your success is being measured, and how it fits into the big picture. And if you’re looking for a job, you should be able to, in the span of 30 seconds, highlight the most interesting parts of your résumé and explain how you would like to make an impact at the company you’re going to interview with. What can you say that no one else can? Don’t wait for anyone to give you anything, and certainly not a job. Own your rhetoric, own your brand.”

Did you find that you had to make some sacrifices to accelerate your career and work for a bigger company?

“For sure. A big part of my sacrifice was losing leadership. In my prior role I was able to be the team lead for a big project like Xbox or the lead in my field for one of my old agency’s biggest clients. That’s a lot of responsibility and a ton of learning lessons as well. The reason I chose to give that up was because one, I wanted to work for a product I truly believed in and cared about, and two, I knew that everything I knew about Twitter was just the surface of their true offerings and services and to start where I am is the best place to learn everything from the ground up. To work in the team I’m in is the best place to get the visibility, growth, and challenges I need to become my potential.”

What Communication skills do you continue to utilize at your job?

“Oh, a ton. From writing documentations to speaking and presenting to clients and other professionals. My communication skills have never gone away. Half my role is to do thorough research and report on it, the other half is in support of the sales lead speaking in a way that educates our clients and partners.”

Anything to add?

Be. Vulnerable. It’s okay to ask people for advice! Too often we think we have to sell ourselves as this know-it-all hotshot to get a job, but I have found the best way to build relationships with people whom you’d like to work with (or for) is to start by being vulnerable, sharing your admiration for their work, and asking for advice. I recommend doing this with professionals at companies you’d love to work for, long before they have a job opening you apply for.”

Follow Alex on Twitter: @OptimusDiaz