Updated: Jun 1, 2019
MARCH 8, 2017 | BY EKIM BUYUK AND MARIELLE RODGERS
Kelly graduated from Duke in 2013 with a BS in Economics and a German minor. After graduation, she joined Facebook and worked on the development and implementation of Facebook’s “Buy” button. Recently, she switched to the startup world at ClassPass, focusing on extracting and analyzing data through SQL and Python to drive business analytics and decisions. At Duke, Kelly served on the Panhellenic Standards Board, as the VP of Foundation for her sorority, and as a house course teacher on The Troubles in Northern Ireland. She will be attending Fuqua to pursue her MBA this fall!
What was an unexpected skill or resource you gained from being a part of BOW?
BOW is really great at teaching the hard skills or resume writing or case interviews, but BOW also provided me the unexpected skill to tell my story and connect with other female professionals. I learned that neither small talk nor relationship building are skills inherent to every human being, and I appreciate that BOW allowed me to further develop those skills. In addition, I think BOW's sessions, professional dress, and behavior are invaluable.
How did your summer internships at startups compare to your later jobs at Facebook and ClassPass?
One of the most difficult obstacles I have faced in my career has been determining which of the many paths I wanted to take for myself. Careers, at least mine, are not linear or well-defined. There are no final exams or well-defined metrics of success. And there is a lot of outside pressure to conform to what others may deem as those metrics of success. However, finding out that I was bored by financials and instead intrigued by database architecture was initially a hard pill to swallow, because I had previously been convinced that I would love the former. But finding and accepting that I love data visualization, algorithmic models, and database architecture has allowed me to pursue a path that I truly love, despite outside pressure.
Could you share one piece of advice you have for current BOW members trying to navigate the tech industry?
Learn everything you can about the tech industry. I follow TechNY Daily in order to know which startups in NY are raising another round or going under. In addition, if you are interested in strategy or analytics positions at startups or within the tech industry, learn SQL. I brushed off coding in college and still regret not taking an Intro to Python class with my roommate senior year. But learning how to pull your own data straight from a database, instead of relying on an engineer to do so, will make you a more valuable candidate and to be able to move more quickly within a tech company.
What is like being a junior board member for a non-profit?
I absolutely love nonprofits, and being a junior member on a couple different boards allows me to engage with the community by both volunteering directly with the community and determining, at a high level, how the junior board can have the greatest impact. I think both of these, direct engagement and high-level strategy, are ways to satisfy both the heart and the mind in making the world a little bit of a better place.
What is something interesting you’ve learned along the way?
I learned that you should be learning every day. I learned that there are no right answers, but there are certainly wrong ones. I learned that getting your work done is important, but so are the relationships you form both with your direct teammates and with others within the company. I learned to say "yes" to whatever work opportunity came up until my plate was overflowing and I had to start saying "no". I learned that if you really love what you do, the hours will actually fly by and staying up late on a weeknight or waking up early on a weekend won't feel too much like work but more like doing what you want to do with your time. I learned that being a nice person and a good human being goes a long way.