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How Julia embraced confidence and growth in her sales career at Palo Alto Networks

Career Progression Graphic Julia Stern 650X440 R1 Nologo Copy

Author: Julia Stern, Strategic Account Manager 

When I was eagerly searching for my first job out of college, all I knew was that I wanted to work in an industry that could change the world. After years of internships in the tech industry, I started to figure out what was important to me and that was one thing, the people I chose to work with. Fast forward and I was fortunate enough to land an opportunity to work as a business development representative (BDR) at the best company in the most relevant industry: Palo Alto Networks. The justification for my decision was based on one factor, the people at Palo. 

On my first day I started to write out my career game plan. Where do I see myself in one year? Five years? Ten years? To my surprise, staying at Palo Alto Networks was not on the agenda. When I graduated college, my goal was to get experience here to open up more opportunities within the industry. I am now coming up on my four year anniversary here at Palo Alto Networks and I couldn't be more grateful to work at a company with so much innovation, creativity and most importantly, with the most helpful and smartest people I’ve ever met. As I reflect on my experience thus far, I have come to realize that the grass isn't always greener and to be frank, I’m not sure it will ever be. 

What makes working here such a rarity is that at most reputable companies this size, you are seen as a number or “another cog in the wheel.” Here, you are seen for who you are and what you are capable of. The number one piece of advice I tell every person I speak to both internally and externally is that no matter what team or role you are in, if you work hard, surround yourself with the right people and help those who need it, you will be given opportunities that will change your career and life. 

At every stage of my career here, I have been the youngest person on each team. Every time, I introduce myself and what I do to clients and I feel a sense of doubt and imposter syndrome. How could someone with as little experience as me be as successful as my seasoned counterparts? The truth of the matter is, it's not something to be ashamed of but something to embrace. My network here has taught me to not judge my success based on what I have done but what I am capable of doing and that has ignited a sense of confidence that has forced me to relentlessly pursue paths that I would have never thought was possible. My advice to every person reading this whether you are in college looking for your first job or you are embarking on a new chapter, is to embrace your insecurities, capitalize on your strengths and to be steadfast in your pursuit – but most importantly, to find those people who see what you don't see in yourself. 

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