From college to customer success — Yaakov’s story
For many Olim moving to Israel, breaking in hi-tech can be particularly tricky. Yaakov talks his journey to the monday CS program and some tips & tricks of his own.
This one’s for all you fresh out of university folks! The jump from higher-ed into hi-tech has the unique challenge of carrying or relating what you learned from the classroom into the workplace. Just ask Yaakov, a graduate of the monday U Customer Success (CS) program.
What did you do before monday U?
I was studying for my undergraduate degree in Business Communications at Baruch College in New York City.
While I was there, I took advantage of as many professional workshopping and development events as I could get involved in — corporate accelerators, workshops, LinkedIn training, CV writing — you name it!
Looking back now at how monday U compared to those, wow it really blew those out of the water.
In college, were you interested in hi-tech?
When I was in college, I did a bunch of internships at very corporate, suit-and-tie kinds of places — such as a bank and real estate company.
Then I found out about an organization called TAMIDGroup, which does consulting for Israeli startup companies, and I said, “I have to give this a shot”.
Soon enough I fell in love with what they were doing and I worked my way up from a consulting project manager to leading the educational track and eventually became president of the club.
While managing these consulting projects for vibrant and innovative Israeli startups through TAMIDGroup, I felt much more fulfilled than I did working in buttoned-up corporate settings.
That’s when I knew, that once I graduated, I needed to move to Israel to see if working in hi-tech, from the inside, would be the right fit for me.
I think doing the monday U program really solidified that feeling that hi-tech is the right place to launch my career.
What made you interested in the Customer Success program?
I found my degree actually lent itself quite nicely to customer success. I figured I could take my communications, marketing, and client-facing backgrounds from my BA to the hi-tech sector.
Participating in the monday U program really reinforced for me that CS was the right fit for me, my background, and my degree.
Had you had any hands-on experience in CS in hi-tech before monday U?
I actually did an internship in Israel when I first arrived over the summer at a property tech company called Guesty. I was working in the Comms department and it gave me a lot of exposure to every role in the company.
I got into the habit of inviting people from just about every department to sit for coffee. From all the coffee dates I had, the most interesting people and the most interesting roles were almost always on the Customer Success team. That really opened my eyes, made me curious, and made me want to explore that as an option.
My challenge was that I wanted experience working in Customer Success on more than just a theoretical level. I was having a hard time because there are so many bootcamps in Israel that are so technical for coding and software and all that. I just don’t have the technical background for that.
So I thought, “A bootcamp like this has to exist somewhere for customer success”. And then boom! I got on my LinkedIn and I saw all over my newsfeed that monday.com of all companies (which I had my eyes on) was opening a bootcamp for customer success! So I thought, “Wow, this is perfect”.
Love that. We’ll get into monday U in a second, but going back for a minute to those coffee dates, what was it about customer success that like got you excited?
It all sounded so right for me. As a CSM, you’re essentially serving as the eyes and ears of the clients for the company. So you’re kind of an external representative of the company, building relationships on the company’s behalf.
Then you get to report back to the company on different insights and data points which connect you to every department internally.
For example, you’re talking to the marketing team to coordinate testimonials and success stories. Then you’re talking to the product team about technical questions from clients. But then you’re also talking to sales and upper management. It’s really cool.
How would you describe the experience of doing the Customer Success program in a few words?
Practical, stimulating, and energetic.
Practical because in my BA and the MBA I’m doing now, so much of it is very theoretical — the models, the charts, the acronyms. When it comes down to it, a lot of this does not transfer over to the workplace.
The monday U course was very straight to the point teaching you this is what you’re gonna be doing on the day-to-day. These are the tools you’re gonna be using. These are the people you’re gonna be speaking to.
So I appreciated that it was some theory to an extent because that is important. But also very much to the point.
Stimulating because it wasn’t just some boring slides or somebody just lecturing, but it was interactive. It was thought-provoking. There was a lot of back and forth Q&A between the students and the instructors. It made you think.
Lastly, energetic because I think that first of all, the people leading the course were very, very passionate about what they’re doing and experts in what they’re doing. You can feel that they wanted to be there and were sharing knowledge based on a lot of real, positive work experiences.
I’ll add that I think what makes the experience is the people and the cohort. There were so many top-notch people that I met through the program — all really driven and motivated students from diverse disciplines and backgrounds. They brought a ton of energy to every session.
What are you up to now?
I’m finishing the international MBA program at Reichman University and I landed a position as a Customer Success Manager for the US market at a hi-tech startup called myInterview, in large part thanks to my experience with monday U — it really helped to have it on my CV and being able to highlight it during my interview process.
I remember when I was interviewing, they were intrigued and asked about what was included in the program and the type of training I got.
It was gratifying being able to pull from my experience in the Customer Success program and bring that with me throughout the interview process.
I really attribute that to why I landed the position.
What advice would you give to someone considering moving to Israel who wants to get into tech?
I think in hi-tech there’s a big need for people who have familiarity with foreign markets because while there are a lot of people here who can do the R&D side of tech, we need olim who can bring their knowledge of their home countries to the Israeli tech space.
Because at the end of the day, the markets that hi-tech companies are going for are abroad. So if you have connections, a network, and familiarity with the communication style and norms in your country, hi-tech companies will see you as a liaison between what they’re doing here on the ground and your hometown.
You can carve out a real niche and provide a lot of unique value that way.
Also, don’t be intimidated by hi-tech in Israel being predominantly R&D. There are all types of roles that are more on the creative side, and more on the client-facing side. So I do believe there’s something for everyone to explore the options out there so don’t limit yourself!
Is there anything else you feel like you wanna add?
I just want to say that I’m very grateful to monday.com for the opportunity. To think that an organization is just investing in the future of the workforce with no ulterior motive. you’d think there’s some kind of catch, but there isn’t. It’s just amazing.
On that note, a special shout-out to Kim Landau who ran the program. She’s like a powerhouse. She’s awesome.