How I, an English Major, Snagged an Awesome Job in Startup Tech Sales

Sawyer Huff is in sales development at Mag+, a platform for creating and distributing designed mobile apps. He graduated from NYU in 2014 with a degree in English and American Literature. Sawyer grew up in Minnesota and currently lives in Brooklyn.

 To say the least, I didn’t envision myself in sales or tech when I started undergrad at NYU. After sitting through my MAP courses for most of freshman year, I decided to take the least practical track and pursue a degree in English just because it was fun. Becoming an English teacher seemed like the career path of least resistance, so I told myself that was the one for me.

After graduation, I spent four years working as a tutor, speculating about writing some books, and questioning everything; I then found myself in a business development role at a tutoring company. My job was to drive around New Jersey networking with psychologists and schools and hire college kids as tutors and match them with referred students. I was stuck at an unoriginal company in a saturated market. Luckily, I did get to do some of my first cold calling, networking, sales, and presentations to prospective clients, all of which were invaluable experiences to dip my toe into. But I was bored by the monotony.

I started looking aimlessly on the internet for job openings on Craigslist, Jobs.com, Indeed, and Glassdoor. Trying to steer clear of education because of my unstellar experience, I started looking around at sales jobs in the tech industry (which I had paid close attention to since some of my friends had dropped out of college to work at startups).

Although I felt confident in my sales and business development skills, I didn’t have the resume for these jobs. I kept having to come up with fluffy cover letters about how I have great people skills and how much I looked forward to devoting myself to evangelizing ABC company’s Product X. I didn’t hear back from anyone.

That was when I came across CloserIQa platform that connects job-seeking tech sales professionals to all the awesome startup jobs out there. On CloserIQ.com, I was prompted to build my profile using my resume stats as well as my specific sales skills: how many years of sales experience I had, which industries I was familiar with, what knowledge of CRM systems and sales tools I had, and so on. Filling out the form was intuitive and quick—I was finished with the basic info in five minutes.

Anticipating the cover letter section, I navigated forward with sweaty palms. Ah, not yet—CloserIQ then prompted me to attach my resume. One more click landed me on a page with just two questions and a play button beneath each. The top of the page read, “Record your answers to the questions below. We recommend keeping your answers down to one minute!”

I was thrown off at first. “Am I confident in my ability to string together a sentence?” I thought. “I know I can identify the meter in sonnet, but can I talk?” The questions were tough, too. “What are some of your greatest professional achievements so far?” and “What are some challenges you’ve overcome and how?” After a few minutes of foot tapping and nail biting, I had my confidence re-gathered and my responses prepared.

After finishing, I had a good feeling. Submitting a recording of myself answering a question was an easier and better way to convey my personality to potential employers. It also saved me a ton of time—no more forced cover letters.

The next day, I got a message through CloserIQ from Javier Rosas, the director of global sales at Mag+. Over the course of the next few weeks I interviewed with him and the CEO Gregg Hano. I knew I could see myself working under both of them, I liked their vision of the future of Mag+, and I was desperate to get into something—anything—that was stimulating. I got the job, so it turns out that thing was tech sales!

Javier is my boss now and I’ve been with Mag+ for about 4 months. It’s been a great experience that will definitely keep me in the industry for a while. Mag+ is a software platform that allows designers to build mobile apps for materials that would have been traditionally printed, such as product guides, memos, and brochures. We started out in the magazine industry when the iPad came out, and grew from there.

Being on the sales side is continuously dynamic, and I have learned a TON on the job, not only through figuring out how the product itself works, but through researching the diverse businesses, industries, and solutions the platform is used in and for. Now I’m working with a creative, intelligent group of people putting something out into the world I can really get behind. Boxes checked!

Getting an English major wasn’t so bad after all.

Interested in tech startups and sales jobs? Check out CloserIQ to find open positions you’ll love and read our career blog for advice on how to get hired.