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Mentorship Opens New Horizons

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Author: Ananya Mamgain, Systems Engineer

With a degree in computer science, I eagerly ventured into software development. I was convinced that a career in technology equated to being a software engineer. However, my first internship was a revelation – it wasn't the path I envisioned. The misalignment between my expectations and competencies prompted soul-searching and a different trajectory as I looked for a full-time role.

In the Indian job market, finding unconventional roles like pre-sales during the early stages of one's career can be a challenge. I was fortunate to secure a position that not only aligned with my aspirations but also offered a nurturing environment, embodying the core values I sought. I made the decision to join the Systems Engineer (SE) Academy because it presented an excellent opportunity to gain insights into the pre-sales role, especially as a newcomer. It aligned perfectly with my expectations for the kind of job I aspired to have. I am truly grateful that I took the chance and joined Palo Alto Networks at the forefront of cybersecurity innovation.

Along the way, mentorship was what made the difference. Here’s how:

  1. Upon joining the academy, I found myself among a diverse group, each possessing unique qualities. Seasoned industry professionals guided us, providing a platform to hone our strengths and address our weaknesses. This collaborative approach allowed me to build confidence as a technical professional.
  2. During the academy phase, regular activities like demo practices, presentations and customer scenarios were the norm. Feedback wasn't limited to mentors but extended to peers as well. This constructive feedback loop became a cornerstone for improvement. It was through this process that I learned to leverage my strengths strategically and work on my weaknesses, fostering continual growth.
  3. Fieldwork brought a new set of challenges, especially in crafting presentations tailored to specific scenarios and personas. My mentor guided me in tweaking solutions and emphasized the importance of asking the right questions to grasp the pain points effectively. This personalized approach ensured that the solutions resonated with the unique needs of each scenario.
  4. A valuable lesson mentorship taught me was that one's personality doesn't define their suitability for a role. Rather, cultivating confidence can transform you into a better fit for any position. While it may require time and effort, the right habits, when nurtured, can pave the way to achieving professional goals.
  5. Backed by mentorship, I felt well-prepared to face the challenges of the real working world. This support system not only enhanced my technical skills but also instilled the belief that with the right guidance, growth can be exponential in the early stages of one's career.

I transitioned from the SE Academy to  a field role seamlessly – a testament to the effectiveness of the mentorship I received. The insights, guidance and encouragement from mentors played a pivotal role in making this transition smooth and successful.

Words of advice to those who are early in their careers.

Mentorship is not just a luxury but a necessity, especially in the early stages of one's career. The right guidance can transform challenges into opportunities and set the stage for exponential growth. When seeking early-in-career opportunities, be sure to select a program where you will find the support you need, and lay the foundations for your future success! Keep an eye on our careers site later this year for opportunities to join SE Academy. 

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