Sometimes you get so focused on doing one thing that it’s difficult to see the wider impact of what you’re doing in the world. As much as we may not like to admit it, there are times when it can be like that for us here at Palette Skills. If you’re reading this, you already know that we run a suite of programs that help people make important career changes in their lives. Our programs build technical skills, yes. But they also build a range of other skills—skills that help our participants change their lives and find personal, meaningful success.
So while the Palette Skills community is concentrating on the nuts and bolts of delivering our upskilling programs to Canadians across the country, and measuring success by so many job placements and career advancements, it’s important to be reminded of the broader scope of transformation that people can find through our programs.
Take SalesCamp alumni John Woohyun Choi as an example. A while ago, John took the time to tell us about his journey to SalesCamp, and along the way, he gave us a glimpse of some of the broader implications of what we’re doing here at Palette Skills.
John told us that before he came to SalesCamp, he’d been working as a personal trainer, but like so many others in the industry, he’d been laid off due to gym shutdowns in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But there’s more to it than that. John came to Canada from South Korea with his parents. When he arrived, he had a university degree, and no Canadian job experience. He spoke English as a second language, and had been struggling to get any interviews for the technology sales jobs he was applying for. His parents, says John, were worried about his prospects.
“I was financially struggling as well,” John told us. “So I debated about applying for SalesCamp. After a lot of thought, I decided to invest in SalesCamp, try to give everything I had, and if things didn’t work, I was ready to pack and go back to Korea. I was really at the end of the road.”
For many of us, it would be difficult to imagine being in such a precarious situation, let alone making the decision to engage, to learn, and to commit. But that’s what John did. Things at SalesCamp weren’t exactly easy, either.
“SalesCamp was intense,” John confesses. “It was tough and it required a lot of work. Most definitely, we were not allowed to be in the comfort zone. I was very stressed for the first daily challenge.”
A crucible is a container used to make metals and alloys. When they get hot enough, they transform ores into useful materials. SalesCamp was John’s crucible, and his experience in the program changed him.
“I think the biggest thing for me,” says John, “is how different I became after SalesCamp. It was only a week, but during that time, we did lots of challenges, [and faced] uncomfortable situations which normally I would have avoided at all costs.” But John wanted to give the program his all, and it was this attitude that not only opened the door for his career success, but to a larger, and more profound success at the same time.
“I used to think that I had nothing. No internships, no experiences, English not being my first language. But I noticed that, during one week, I was becoming more confident, more positive, and becoming a person ready to dive into tech sales.”
Says John: “The Palette Skills Team, my cohort, and the employers who participated in SalesCamp reminded me that my experiences are unique. I learned to be more confident, and that my experiences are worthwhile. I have things that only I can offer.” John continues: “I learned how to sell myself, and I learned how to emphasize my strengths, and how to relate things into sales that I used to think were completely unrelated.”
It’s a result, says John, that was only possible because of the supportive and diverse environment he found at SalesCamp. And John tells us that not only was he surprised at how intense the program was, but also how supportive the experience was. From the employer partners working with Palette Skills to deliver the SalesCamp program, to all the instructors and participants, John ended up finding much more than he expected.
“Employers helped revise our resumes, and gave priceless advice and insights to us,” says John. “Where else can I get to connect and chat with these people if it wasn’t at SalesCamp. I loved our cohort. All from coming from different backgrounds but willing to learn and transition careers into tech sales. All of them were open-minded, kind, supportive and wholesome.”
After finishing SalesCamp, John got a job in tech sales so quickly it came as a bit of a shock. “I honestly did not expect to get the job this fast because prior to SalesCamp,” John reminds us, “I had been struggling for quite some time to even get an initial interview for tech sales jobs.”
Of course, we followed up with John, and asked him what he would say to other people considering the SalesCamp program. Here’s what he told us:
“Make the most out of it—whether it is the course material or networking with cohorts and employers. When you need help, the Palette Skills team will be there for you. Really take the initiative, don’t hesitate to ask for help, and be comfortable going out of your comfort zone. As much as it is an amazing program, you need to put the work in. SalesCamp truly was beyond my expectations and I am so glad I joined it.”
It’s safe to say that John exceeded our expectations, too. Of course, everyone in the Palette Skills community had every confidence that John would be able to be able to navigate SalesCamp and find a great new career. But it’s also true that we hadn’t expected John’s story to make us stop and reflect on the scope of the change that participants are finding as they build their skills with us.