BTU #6 – Jimmy Sopko: Active Duty to Pinterest & High Tech

“Be open to the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know. Be willing to reach out and ask people what they do, what they like and don’t like…be open to just learning and figuring out what’s important to you and try to find a company that’s right for you.”
 – Jimmy Sopko

Jimmy Sopko is a Manager of Growth Sales at Pinterest. Jimmy got his start at Pinterest by rolling up his sleeves and taking a job at Pinterest as part of their Community Operations team. While this was a step back in terms of pay and seniority, it got his foot in the door and he was able to quickly work his way up within Pinterest… a company that has already tripled in growth since he joined. Jimmy is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, and former Surface Warfare Officer. He’s also an avid rower, having earned a Silver Medal in the 2009 World Rowing Championships.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • The three approaches Jimmy took to get his first job (Recruiters, Networking, Mentors)
  • The importance of choosing a lifestyle NOT a specific role at a company
  • How he narrowed his job search down to the Technology industry and Pinterest
  • What it’s like to join an internet rocket ship… at the very bottom
  • Why he thinks it may be better to skip grad school and going straight to industry
  • The difference between military leadership and Tech leadership
  • How customer-facing roles maximize your learning inside a company
  • And much, much more…

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QUESTION OF THE DAY: How can I make these episodes more valuable to active duty military personnel considering transitioning to the civilian world? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • [1:30] Background
  • [2:40] Transition from the Navy to US Rowing Team and searching for a new career
  • [4:10] Three approaches to getting his first job (Recruiters, Networking, Mentors)
  • [6:38] Approaching the decision to leave the military
  • [8:40] Choosing to not join the Reserves
  • [10:55] The importance of choosing a lifestyle NOT a specific role
  • [11:55] Deciding to leave the US Rowing Team and enter industry
  • [12:53] Exploring career possibilities while rowing
  • [14:10] Narrowing a job search down to the Technology industry and Pinterest
  •  [16:30] Joining a rocket ship… at the very bottom
  • [17:57] Advice for skipping grad school and going straight to industry
  • [23:40] The difference between military leadership and Tech leadership
  • [26:50] How customer-facing roles maximize your learning inside a company
  • [27:52] Day-to-day life of a Community Operations / Customer Support roles
  • [30:00] Managing in an organization (vs. in the military)
  • [32:05] Day-to-day life in Growth Sales capacity
  • [36:50] Advice to those currently on Active Duty