Jul 12, 2018
From Nonprofit to Netflix: My Journey into Entertainment
As I am approaching one year working in recruitment at Netflix, I reflected on the progression of my career and wanted to share my thoughts and experiences with those who may be looking to make a career transition. One piece of advice I would give is that it is never too late to make a change and do something you love.
While at The University of Massachusetts Amherst, I was recruited to be a corps member for Teach For America, where I taught on a Native Hawaiian Homestead for two years. Following my experience as a Corps Member, I built a career around nonprofit fundraising working at a small arts organization, Free Arts, and then The Los Angeles LGBT Center; the world’s largest provider of programs and services for the LGBTQ community. It felt amazing to wake up every day and have purpose – to know that the efforts of today would help people in need tomorrow. I was paycheck-to-paycheck, but the impact we were making in our communities made up for that.
At the Los Angeles LGBT Center, I spearheaded corporate fundraising, sponsorships, and community engagement. I had the privilege to peer into the workplace culture of more than 150 companies and organizations including HBO, Snapchat, Buzzfeed, and most importantly, Netflix. The first thing I noticed about the employees at Netflix that I partnered with were how amazing they were. Every promise made was fulfilled, every goal was surpassed, and everyone there was humble and happy. Pieces of this existed at other companies, but Netflix was the only place that had the complete circle and that left a positive impression on me. I knew if I ever left nonprofit, Netflix would be my first choice.
For over a year, I continued to work with Netflix on various philanthropic initiatives. Whether it was supply drives for our youth experiencing homelessness or staff members participating in AIDS/LifeCycle, it was always inspiring to see how passionate employees at Netflix were to help. Once I came across their culture deck on LinkedIn, however, it solidified my desire to make a career change and join their team. Netflix was the only company I worked with that truly empowered and believed in the abilities of their employees – where people woke up more motivated to work there than the nonprofit sector. They encourage employees to speak their opinion, even if it is not the most popular of opinions. Their job was not to make their managers happy, but to better advance Netflix and the company’s success. Everyone was in the same boat together and working for the same goal – to make Netflix an incredible product with amazing content featuring diverse stories and characters that resonated with people. This was a mission I could get behind.
Once I knew Netflix was the company for me, I needed to figure out where my experiences and passions would be a fit within the company. I set up informal coffee meetings with a variety of my contacts at Netflix and ultimately every conversation came down to recruiting, since the skill sets of fundraising are aligned. My interview experience at Netflix was exceptional; the logistics were flawless and the passion each person contained was both authentic and contagious.
When I received the call from Netflix to let me know I was being offered a position, I was both elated and terrified at the same time. Leaving my career of nonprofit fundraising to start something entirely new was a risk, but it was a risk I was willing to take. The first month was especially challenging because of a variety of adaptations I had to make including learning new types of technology, starting a career in recruitment with no prior experience, and going from a non profit to corporate setting. I remember feeling nervous my first week that I was in over my head, but slowly I became more confident and happier with the work I was producing. As I reflect one year later, I am so grateful I took that chance because Netflix has changed my life for the better. I work with stunning colleagues that build and inspire me to be the best I can be every single day and I am being paid top of market to expand teams on a global scale to continue Netflix’s amazing storytelling.
Some people were surprised by my career shift, but I feel confident about my decision. I think of our documentary 13th by film-maker Ava DuVernay and how it is getting people to discuss race and racism in our country. I think of our She Rules campaign, highlighting strong female characters from our originals. I think of the incredible content centered on LGBTQ stories that provides validation and representation of diverse voices in my community – voices that become accessible to nearly 100 million people around the world. We may not be directly saving lives, but we are impacting society for the better and that makes me motivated to do my job with dignity every single day. I couldn’t get that anywhere else.