Top tips to finding your passion in career and life explores the life of rising-star and smoothmind ‘Celeste Terni’.
We met a year ago during the last six months of her graduate placement with Salesforce Marketing Cloud. During this time, Celeste has continued to impress with a fantastic work ethic. It’s no surprise therefore that she recently became a full-time employee in the team. Together with the way she has successfully combined her passion in life with a newfound career in Software as a Service (SaaS), I wanted to share some insights into her world with you here.
With this, I am pleased to share the first in a three-part interview series with Celeste. In the first interview we explore how Celeste has navigated her way as a recent graduate in securing a permanent role with one of the world’s largest tech companies. Celeste shares her personal challenges with COVID lockdown in establishing her presence in the workplace. We finish by learning about Celeste’s passion in life and how she creatively integrated this into her new digital career.
Whether you are a recent graduate exploring your first role, or already well established on your career path; I hope her journey will inspire you to find your passion in career and life!
Top Tips To Finding Your Passion In Career And Life: Interview With Celeste Terni
RAICHURA: Thanks Celeste for taking the time to share your experience with smoothmind! I’m really excited to learn more about your top tips to finding your passion in career and life. So our readers can get to know get to know you a bit better first, tell us what life was like growing-up before you became an expat in the UK?
TERNI: Thank you so much Gopesh for inviting me into the wonderful world of smoothmind! Although I now call London my home, I spent most of my life in Texas – Yeehaw! No, I didn’t ride a horse to school but you could definitely catch me at the Houston Rodeo in my cowgirl boots every Spring. The story didn’t start there though. I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile surrounded by everyone in my mum’s family – siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, abuela, the whole lot. I was only six years old when we moved to America, and we still go back to Chile for at least one month every year.
RAICHURA: That sounds like a fascinating life experience. How do you think your cultural and family influences have helped shape the person you are today?
TERNI: Growing up with one foot in each country – Chile and America – taught me a lot about how to live my values and how to treat people with respect. My Chilean side of the family places enormous emphasis on loyalty, compassion, and forgiveness. It was no surprise to me that we found ourselves a loving Latin American community in Texas with whom we could celebrate holidays, birthdays, and food festivals. As a Texan teen I also got involved in the ‘Bible Belt’ culture – singing in choirs, going to church, and creating friendships of my own. The people I met in Texas taught me the importance of hospitality, warmth, and resilience.
RAICHURA: It’s the combination of cultural, family and life experiences that normally shape our values as individuals. What are the four most important values that you live by and why are these meaningful to you?
TERNI: The four values that guide my life right now are respect, positivity, authenticity and curiosity. First and foremost, respect is the one of those things that makes a big impression when it’s lacking. I believe in recognising the feelings, wishes, and rights of others, and treating people accordingly. Anyone who knows me will say that I always have a big smile on my face, constantly laughing and making jokes. Positivity to me means affirming the good in situations and being able to find and create joy in everything that I do. I mean, come on, isn’t that the point of living? I also believe in authenticity – being honest with myself and with others about my capabilities, aspirations, and motivations. Lastly, my school in Texas taught me that the path to wisdom begins with curiosity, so I like to deeply explore anything that piques my interest, like music!
RAICHURA: It’s often said that music is the soul of life. This really resonates with me and is one of the reasons why it plays a leading role in the Unwind section of smoothmind. After all, music can help uplift our minds, make us want to dance like there’s no tomorrow, make us feel happy, and sometimes sad… Which genres of music are you most into?
TERNI: Absolutely! I grew up singing in choirs, so choral music and musical theatre always made me want to sing at the top of my lungs. As I got older I started working as a vocal coach at a music school called School of Rock, so as you can image I started listening to, singing to, and loving all kinds of rock music. From Pink Floyd to the White Stripes to Alice in Chains. Anything I can sing along to is music I like to listen to.
I especially found beauty in metal music, like Coheed and Cambria and Avenged Sevenfold. They are the true pioneers of vocal harmonies! Most of my favourite artists nowadays are female powerhouse vocalists. I look up to artists like Bishop Briggs, Lianne La Havas, Eryn Allen Kayne for their solo careers as music icons. Ana Tijoux has been at the top of my list for years – she does beautiful traditional Chilean music as well as modern Latin hip-hop. Anything goes in terms of my taste in music. There is beauty in everything!
RAICHURA: Loving the diversity in range there Celeste! I recently shared a post covering some of my favourite mixes that help me get in the zone while working. What’s your favourite mix of the moment that gets you in the zone?
TERNI: Luckily for us, there is an entire profession dedicated to creating music to keep you in the zone. Those are our friends the video game scorers. I’m a big fan of bingeing video games for hours on end and appreciating the music that keeps me on task, whether it’s climbing a virtual mountain or defeating Ganon at the end of a long adventure. My favourite songs are remixes of Legend of Zelda music. The mix ‘Zelda and Lofi’ got me through studying for my Salesforce certifications.
RAICHURA: So you recently completed a graduate scheme and secured a permanent role with Salesforce. How did you come about the opportunity to join the graduate scheme in the first instance?
TERNI: I was in my second year of university when one of my friends told me she’d just spent an incredible summer in Dublin at an internship for Salesforce. My first thought was, “What the heck is a Salesforce?” This was my first insight into the B2B ecosystem, and I found it fascinating. I applied for that internship myself and got to spend that wonderful summer learning all things Salesforce in Dublin.
I met a lot of young adults starting their career in the graduate scheme for themselves and continued to reflect on that opportunity as I went back to school that fall. By graduation, I had concluded that Salesforce would be the perfect company to start my career at, so I reached out to the recruiters for the graduate scheme and secured my spot! In fact, I had to do all my interviews and assessment centres from across the globe, usually very early in the morning. But it was all worth it!
RAICHURA: Indeed it was! Think back to before you secured a place on the scheme. There are many graduates that will be facing a tough time with lockdown right now, struggling to land their first full-time role. What challenges did you face as a graduate getting into employment in the SaaS space and what advice would you give to others in the same situation?
TERNI: It’s definitely not easy looking for your first full-time role without any experience. That’s the wall most recent graduates run into over and over again – you have no experience, so you try to find a job, but the job requires experience, so you try to find a job, so on and so forth. What I’ve learned is to leverage the beginner’s mindset. Having no experience means we have no biases on systems in place.
Don’t be afraid to point out something that seems confusing or inefficient – chances are that you can optimize something that others are too comfortable with to notice it can be improved. The beginner’s mindset brings a fresh perspective, something that becomes harder to practice after many years of experience. Leverage that! But also remember that job interviews work both ways – you must find a company that shares your values. This isn’t always so easy in the tech landscape, but it’s what made my decision to join Salesforce a no-brainer.
RAICHURA: If experience has taught me one thing, the course/s we choose to study don’t necessarily reflect the career paths we eventually end up taking. What influences if any, did your education choices have in helping you land the initial graduate scheme role?
TERNI: Growing up, I never really had the answer to the popular family reunion question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” All I truly understood was what I enjoyed learning in the moment. I loved learning, and I loved my teachers. Specifically, I loved my math teachers! They always encouraged me to keep advancing and reaching that next frontier. This is what inspired me to get my degree in mathematics. I combined this with a human-based discipline, economics, which is what exposed me to econometrics and statistics, the perfect cross-section of people and numbers. My passion for data analytics steered me towards a career in technology. I was able to leverage that skillset in order to secure a spot in the graduate scheme.
RAICHURA: You bring energy to your role in leaps and bounds. What intrigues me is how you have managed to blend your passion in life with work, which has helped accelerate your integration with the team and wider organisation. Now I’m sure our audience is intrigued to hear more… Tell us what you’re passionate about in life and how you have managed to integrate this with your newly found career in the digital space?
TERNI: I love connecting with others in all aspects of my life. In my work life, I get to combine my quantitative fluency with my energy and people skills to bring customer success to life. I realise fulfilment by being of service and participating in meaningful ways, like enabling my customers, being a resource for my teammates, and serving as a lever for young individuals aspiring to enter the tech world. Most recently I launched an enablement initiative for my team of Business Architects in the hope of preparing us to be excellent and trusted advisors in our future customer engagements.
Another way I like to connect with people is through music. I’m lucky enough to work for a company that allows me to live my passion at work. I started a music collective – JamForce – with a few of my colleagues. We had monthly jam sessions that were a hit! However, we had to adapt quickly when COVID-19 sent us all home. Myself and many others found ourselves quite lonely and in desperate need of a positive distraction, so I tackled this two ways. Firstly, JamForce set up Virtual Coffeehouses where we could all come together and share any music we were working on. Secondly, I offered singing lessons to my colleagues and their children in exchange for donations to the Black Lives Matter movement. Being able to connect with old friends and new through creating music was what truly carried my spirit through lockdown.
RAICHURA: Last but by no means least, what are your top three tips for our audience of smoothminds’ to find their passion in Career and Life?
TERNI: It’s important to note that your passion in career and your passion in life don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Number one, create an environment that allows you to combine the two and explore your interests in all aspects of your life. I found ways to incorporate my love of music with the communities I was already a part of, like singing in my school choir, joining my university a cappella group, and creating a band with my colleagues. Nowadays I even get to run virtual sing-alongs and performances for company events!
Number two, follow your curiosities. Go down that YouTube rabbit hole, read that book that’s been sitting on your bedside table, or invest in that instrument you’ve been wondering about. Now more than ever, all we have is free time. This is the perfect opportunity to invest a little extra energy into exploring new things and finding new ways to do the things you already love. I’ve started looking into producing music through software, something I never thought I had the skillset for but have found I truly enjoy.
Number three, share it. Share your passion with your loved ones, your peers, and with your community. You’ll find like-minded individuals and opportunities as you expand your network and invest both in yourself and the people around you. There’s nothing more motivating than the support from your loved ones. I always feel more compelled to make music when I know my abuela will be playing my recordings on repeat and singing along! This year, I’m recording her an entire album of Spanish songs she loves.
RAICHURA: Some fantastic tips there and no doubt, this will serve as great food for thought for our audience to find their passion in Career and Life! We’ve run out of time for now, but I’d like to thank you again for sharing an insight to your world with smoothmind. I can see that there’s a lot more to it than what first meets the eye here; we’re clearly just scraping the surface of your passion for music in life and how it has developed from University to the present day. Would you be up for diving deeper into that topic?
TERNI: I wouldn’t be following my own advice if I refused… There’s so much more I’d love to talk about – We’re definitely just at the tip of the iceberg right now. Gopesh, thank you so much for providing the opportunity to speak with you and with the smoothmind community.
RAICHURA: Fantastic – Thanks so much Celeste!
Intrigued to read more? Check-out the second instalment in this exciting three-part interview series with Celeste Terni.