Alumni Voices | Kathleen (O’Malley) Celmins ’04

I came to Pacific knowing I wanted a degree in computer science. The year was 2000, and there were a few people who I knew who graduated a few years ahead of me in high school who were getting signing bonuses (and cars!) at well-funded dot-coms, and they had English degrees.

In hindsight, we were just ahead of the inevitable burst of that bubble.

But I had dollar signs in my eyes.

“Psssch, I can do that,” I thought. “I took calculus in high school. Computer science is where I belong.”

So I went, and powered through freshman, sophomore, and the first semester of junior year, taking CS curriculum, but also enough politics classes to keep things interesting. Spring semester of junior year made me realize I absolutely hated programming. Not only that, I wasn’t any good at it.

Being good with computers is different than being able to think like a programmer. So, my best friend encouraged me to reach out to the associate dean (Steve Smith at the time) to see if there were any exceptions to the add/drop date (which we’d passed by a week). 

He not only made it possible, he made it easy. He made me realize there were amazing benefits that going to a small school like Pacific offered that I wouldn’t get anywhere else.

I graduated in four years with a political science degree (I wonder if I’m still the only poli-sci grad who took CS 430 Computer Architecture?), and went off into the world. 

2004 was a presidential election year, and I worked on a campaign. I thought I was at the beginning of my lifelong political career. I moved to Washington, D.C., after the campaign ended, and worked in a variety of jobs over the next four years, seeing if there was a place for me in politics.

When I realized my heart wasn’t in it, I moved back to Portland, right as another bubble was bursting. I got a job as a hospitality recruiter, but the fall of 2008 was a terrible time to start a business, and I was laid off shortly thereafter.

In 2009, I started working at a small software startup. They’d just released a full-service farmers market management solution, and they needed help with sales. 

It was such a fun job, and I learned a lot about the industry. In the four years I was there, we saw the world changing as farmers adopted technology.

On the side, I started a personal finance blog and started getting serious about my debt payoff. That led me to becoming an expert on blogging best practices and acted as a resume for the job I have now, which is managing my company’s blogs and directing a team of freelancers for our clients’ blogs.

At The Center for Sales Strategy, we teach salespeople how to get more sales. The company is led by former sales superstars and former sales managers, so they are able to teach people how to bring more money to their companies.

In a broad sense, everyone in every job is in sales. Maybe you’re not actually going out there and proposing solutions, but every email you send is a sales pitch. You sell colleagues on your ideas, you sell your boss on your agenda, and you sell your voice in company meetings.

Here’s one tip for removing a sales barrier: You’ll get a lot farther if you teach people how to use your solution than you will if you attempt to convince people why they should buy from you.

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