Last Friday, we celebrated Pyxl’s 8th birthday. Having been with the company since its 2008 founding (the same year I graduated college), my personal career story is intertwined with the story of our company. Here’s that story (as abbreviated as I could make it), and the 6 most important lessons I’ve learned along the way…
My Career Story: 2008 to Present
During my senior year at the University of Tennessee, I was looking for a paid internship to provide me a little more experience before I graduated. I had already completed one (unpaid) internship the summer prior, but because I paid my own bills, an internship during the semester would have to pay to enable me to quit my serving job and focus solely on college and my future career.
After a few interviews, I was offered a position as a media buying intern for a traditional, local advertising agency in the Knoxville area. Truth be told, it wasn’t really what I saw myself doing long-term (I was a PR major and always saw myself in more of a writing-heavy role), but it was experience, and it paid $10 an hour.
As luck would have it, just four months into my internship, on April 1, 2008, the company would come to be purchased, and we would begin to transition from a small, traditional advertising agency into a full service digital marketing firm with a national client base. I continued my internship through the end of 2008, working full-time during the summer and part-time during the semester, before being offered a salaried position upon my December 2008 graduation.
2009 was the year things really started to happen. We re-branded the company to Pyxl through the first crowdsourced naming contest and said goodbye to our traditional ad agency roots. We began to pick up clients outside of Knoxville — actually, at one point, almost all of our clients were outside of Knoxville: in Washington DC, NYC and Chicago — and we began offering exclusively digital services. Social media was new, and we were a team of five 20-somethings just figuring it out as we went.
In the next couple years, we’d build out new office space, begin to hire more people, and work some of the longest hours I’ve ever worked in my life…but we all had such personal ownership in the success or failure of the company that a few all-nighters just seemed like what we had to do to keep things moving, and growing. It truly was a startup culture, and I loved every minute of it.
To start, I was a digital communication team of one, but as we grew, we were able to add additional team members, and I eventually became the Director of Digital Communication in our Knoxville office. During that time, I was able to help really define the service set offered by my team, building digital marketing strategies, and taking an inbound/content marketing approach to drive ROI for our clients. There was never a handbook for any of this — it was a lot of trial and error, but I enjoyed really thinking through things in a new way, learning from any failures and evolving our approach every step of the way.
Fast forward to 2012. We opened our second office in Arizona. I knew there might be an opportunity to relocate to help drive success in a new market, and after a 2-week stay in Scottsdale in December 2012 (which I should mention was a beautiful 80 degrees), Michael and I decided we’d be open to making the move. It took us almost a full year to get everything situated, but in November of 2013, we packed up our furbabies and everything we owned and headed west. (Read 9 Reasons to Move Across the Country for more on that.)
Upon relocating, I became the Managing Director of Pyxl’s Scottsdale office, meaning I’m responsible for the growth and success of the office I manage. My job is fun yet stressful. It requires a lot of time and energy, but I’ve always been really career-focused, and it’s definitely a position I never get bored in. My focus is on growing the office: hiring amazing employees, securing interesting new clients and projects, and ultimately helping the company as a whole continue to grow and dominate the digital marketing space. It excites me everyday.
While we were once a handful of recent college grads in Knoxville, TN, today we’re a team of nearly 60 designers, developers and marketers across four offices (Scottsdale, Boulder, Nashville & Knoxville). The past eight years have been such a wild ride, and I can’t wait to see where we go next!
What’s your career story, and what lessons have you learned along the way?