Start-Up Excitement; Grown-up Security

High-level sales director considers relocating her H.S.-age daughters in order to land a job.

Parrish said leaving her previous position, as the regional director of sales for the Southwest region of Reliant, which sold software to school districts, was “a gamble. The company had been a startup, and it had grown tremendously. It had gotten to be an extremely corporate environment, and it was time for me to leave. It wasn’t anything I could be passionate about anymore.”

The appeal of her new company was that it was starting a new division; something she felt was tailor-made for her.

“People who are high-level salespeople are motivated by projects that are difficult,” she explained. “Anytime there is something new, an opportunity to shape the building of something… I did it at Reliant, and I get to do that again. Acceleration of growth in a company – that’s where the fun is.”

Considering relocation with H.S.-age daughters
Parrish, who has two daughters – one a junior and one a senior in high school, said she realized their lives could change as she tried to make changes in her own life.

“I knew I would find a new job. But, the worst that could happen is that I would have to relocate. That’s far better than most people in terms of getting job opportunities, but still, I needed a backup plan. If things should really go south and we would have had to move, I would have had my daughters stay with my parents, so they could stay in the same school. It would not have been ideal, but it would have been better than being unemployed.”

Traci Parrish decided to leave her employer of eight years to find a new position that would renew her passion for sales.
“The only bad part was I made the decision to quit my other job before this nifty economic downturn worsened,” she said. She left her former employer on Oct. 3, 2008, with the goal of finding a new position within three months. “I wanted to get something within three months, but I had enough savings to make it for six months.”

Parrish admits that after she quit her job, she went into full-blown panic mode. “That’s when everything [in the economy] was bottoming out. I was, like, ‘What were you thinking?’

But once she started on the job hunt and signed up to SalesLadder, she quickly felt much more confident that she would find the right job. “Ladders set my mind at ease. The job leads I got from them were all sales. What it came down to was, I know I’m a good candidate with a solid work history. The worst thing that could happen is that I would have to relocate.”

Parrish got her first serious inquiry just under a month after she registered on Ladders. “One was definitely not the right fit. They were interested in me, but I told them, ‘trust me. I’m not the right person.’” She spoke to two potential employers seriously, first with phone interviews and then face-to-face.

In the end, Parrish hit her goal with a few weeks’ cushion; she started her new job on Dec. 16, 2008. She is now the K-12 sales consultant for Student Paths, a company that provides software programs to schools that help students negotiate their way through the post-high school world of work and college.

She said that in her search, “there were specific criteria I had set for this new job. I liked the start-up environment. The company has been around a little while, but this was new territory for them. They did not have anyone on staff in the K-12 division. I was getting an opportunity to get in on the ground floor.”

Balancing a challenge and job security
At one point Parrish did consider looking outside of the educational software industry. But her level of expertise in the educational environment, ultimately, is what made her an appealing candidate. “I loved working in the schools, and also, there is a high level of stability there. It’s a lot easier for a company to go belly up than a school district to do so,” she said.

In her new position, she works remotely from her home outside Joplin, Missouri. The company is headquartered in Minnesota, and her sales territory consists of Texas and Missouri. It means she is traveling quite a bit, but it’s not something that bothers Parrish. “This is what I wanted. I enjoy it a lot. I live in a good location for the territory. I can get on a plane and be in Dallas for the day, and be home in time for dinner. Travelwise, that matched what I did in my previous job.”

In the end, her need to move on in her career didn’t mean the whole family had to move. And she’s ready for the next stage in her own life.

“I’ve got two daughters heading off to college soon,” she said, pointing out that in the next couple of years, she will have more time to spend on her job. “If it’s not going to be fun, I don’t want to do it. Take me back to fun.”