Alumni Spotlight: Nicole and Pivoting Into A New Purpose
Updated: Jul 24
Learning is the stepping stone to succeed in any of your passions. If you’re no longer learning, then it’s probably time to step into a different room. That’s what recent Spring Cohort ‘21 alumna Nicole Mesko did throughout her career.
“So right now, I'm actually a Program Manager at Facebook. I work on the Latam-based Mobile Partnerships Team. Really, we work with Telecom carriers throughout the Latam region,” Nicole explained.
While interviewing together, she explains her expansive career and how she eventually landed in tech. She’s worked for different arts organizations, non-profit groups, and for hospitality/tourism companies such as Royal Caribbean. Her job expectations ranged from managing fundraisers, program management for different events, keeping track of each donor initiative, to eventually taking old outdated models and creating newer standards for cruises.
In other words, she was interested in helping improve the lives of others. Either through fixing beverage concepts to give employees and patrons an easier time at work or at play. Or through making sure someone’s cause was reaching the right people that were willing to help. These small impacts were satisfying and left her content. But eventually, she wanted to see how she’d be able to better help people.
“I was at Royal [and] I had a friend actually who worked on digital products, so the mobile application for the company. I was kind of just more interested in learning. I was always curious about how users interact with products, how companies manage to maintain consumer interest in what they're doing, and how they keep things relevant,” Nicole described.
Nicole kissed her work in hospitality and non-profit involvement goodbye and looked toward a career that’d prove more fruitful. It wasn’t the easiest decision, though. She had grown to really enjoy the impacts she was making and how those small things helped people in numerous ways.
“There were more challenges for me out there. More things that I wanted to learn at an actual company that was kind of building and making products for users. Which a nonprofit kind of does, but it's a little bit different, you're more like selling an idea,” She continued.
After thinking about it, she branched out and found her way to Facebook. Working as a Program Manager proved an interesting
change, but her curiosity in Product Management did not dwindle. Like so many Aspiring Product Managers, Nicole found her way into product communities and through a mutual connection, she learned about PMDojo and spoke with our founder about the Product Accelerator program. Believing it was a good match, she decided to become one of the program’s mentees to learn how to develop her own product.
“[It’s] definitely important to sort of leverage and learn from an awesome community. That is PMDojo. I think that's something very unique to the program,” she adds.
Titled Engaged, Nicole’s product focuses on helping large to midsize non-profits and fundraisers to manage donor relationships. Or anyone looking for potential donors of a specific cause and/or initiative. It allows non-profit professionals to authentically connect and engage with any prospective patrons that seem interested in their cause.
“It was interesting to learn and be in that product mindset. Loving the problem, not the solution - that was a big thing that I learned,” Nicole claimed as her main takeaway throughout her time as a Product Accelerator fellow.
Learning to love the problem allows one to approach the solution with creativity. Solving problems doesn’t come with a one-size-fits-all set of guidelines. It takes time, patience, and understanding of other’s perspectives when it comes to the issue at hand. Collaboration is key to a Product Manager’s job title and role. Flexibility is a skill that takes practice to develop.
Interested in gaining real-world experience as a Product Manager or Product Designer? Applications for our next cohort are closing soon. Get in contact with us to learn more or apply by clicking here.