With a rich background in talent acquisition and a passion for mentorship, Mark Pasadilla is currently a Career Coach at General Assembly. Leveraging his recruitment expertise, he now serves as an advisor to those that are needing career development advice. His mission is to provide support and guidance to individuals navigating the ever-changing job market, aligning his professional and life experiences with his profound commitment to service.
Here is a summary of key takeaways from the interview:
- General Assembly offers immersive tech boot camps for individuals looking to upskill or pivot careers in fields like data science, data analytics, UX design, and software engineering.
- The majority of General Assembly students are individuals looking to pivot their careers, ranging from recent college graduates to seasoned professionals seeking a change.
- Setting goals is essential for young professionals, but it’s important to focus on tangible and achievable objectives rather than distant, vague aspirations.
- Networking is crucial for career growth, and platforms like LinkedIn, meetup.com, and ADP list.org can be valuable resources for making connections.
- Soft skills, such as communication and being personable, are highly valued in the professional world and can set individuals apart in their careers.
- In terms of technical skills, being proficient with common tools like Zoom and Slack is crucial, as they are widely used in various industries.
- Common networking mistakes to avoid include being too aggressive in outreach and failing to take action due to a fear of imperfection. Embracing failure and learning from it is crucial for progress.
Check out the full transcript from the twelfth episode of the TechGuide podcast, featuring an interview with Mark Pasadilla.
Ryan Atkinson: [00:00:00] Mark, welcome to the podcast. Super excited to have you.
Mark Pasadilla: Appreciate it, Ryan. Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.
Ryan Atkinson: Yes. And a question that I am dying to ask kind of on topic, not but you’ve coached boxing in fitness classes, which I think is super, super cool.
I’m curious, like how has coaching these classes helped your professional careers that others may really not notice how coaching can benefit your professional career?
Mark Pasadilla: Yeah, no doubt. That’s a great question. I mean, I have a background in athletics, just kind of growing up and whatnot. And so that was why my interest kind of drove in that direction kind of as a side opportunity while I was actually a recruiter in tech.
But how that’s kind of helped me now as a coach, I like to tell the the students and the the job seekers that I work with, that I view coaching kind of in this two-pronged approach. They are not necessarily two pronged approach, but in two different buckets. There’s what I like to do as an Xs and os coach, someone who kind of can call the play, go to the whiteboard and tell people exactly where they’re gonna go to, achieve success.
Then there’s the player’s coach, the person who can light that fire underneath individuals kind of inspire, motivate, and let them know that, hey, you got this. I lean players coach and I got that a lot through coaching, boxing, coaching fitness. That just kind of comes outta me naturally. So that’s helped me a lot in coaching individuals now who are seeking to get into the tech space.
As you know, career transitioners that’s just something that’s a bit innate within me. And yeah, I utilize that to its fullest extent, just cuz that’s kind of who I am.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah. That’s amazing. I think it would be really cool cuz I feel like coaching from like the little that I know of coaching like youth camps and whatnot I feel like it is always a rewarding experience cuz then you can take that in your professional life like you said, and be like, well I’m gonna help recruiter or people break into tech the same way I’m gonna like, give feedback to while I’m actually coaching.
Right, right. For sure. Yeah. And so I wanna start off really because you’ve had an awesome career. Like you’re a project manager for many years, so you’re in the fitness industry. You’re a social media specialist at Nike, which is super, [00:02:00] super sick. Then in April, 2018, you got into recruiting. Take me to April, 2018.
Why the switch to recruiting then?
Mark Pasadilla: Yeah, so this is one way that I like to connect with the, the job seekers and the students that I work with now at General Assembly, cuz we’re largely in part we work with those who are looking to pivot, right? Transition careers into tech. That was me back then at that time.
Not necessarily looking into tech, so to speak, but, I was one of those kids who graduated from college and I was like, well now what? And I, I leaned on certain strengths. I was always a good relationship builder, always a good communicator. And so, coming outta grad school in sport management from U S F Nike just kind of felt like it was a good transition for me.
I felt like, oh, this is the connection. This is it. And so that’s how I landed on the social media team there. After a couple of years there, you know, I, I built great connections, but it wasn’t quite hitting for me in terms of that relational development. And kind of. Realizing that where I shined was in helping others grow and develop.
I didn’t realize that at that time. So I kind of like jumped around. I went into project management. I went I, I went into the nonprofit space. And it was through those experiences that the one thing that always floated to the surface was that I enjoyed working with others and helping them get to where they wanted to get to.
And so that’s what led me to recruiting. I got my feet wet with recruiting in the, in the staffing agency space. And then I eventually went internal and started to build my chops there. So that’s what got me to that point in time.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah. So it sounds like it was a lot of like relationship building, which is obviously one of the most important skills as a recruiter.
Mark Pasadilla: Oh yeah, absolutely. 1000%.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah. That’s awesome. And can we talk a little bit about general assembly? Cause I feel like this is like . A resource that people. They, they may know about, they may know , there’s programs like this out there, but can you give us, um, like a high level overview about what General Assembly offers?
Mark Pasadilla: So General [00:04:00] Assembly, I mean, like you said, there’s, there’s other programs out there nowadays that kind of fall within, this, this bootcamp space, right. And General Assembly is that we offer, Immersive tech boot camps, if you will, for people who are either looking to skill up, looking to actually pivot careers and just kind of gain that skill in different, uh, verticals.
Be it data science, data analytics UX design software engineering. There’s also some other one-off courses in there that you can take. But the crux of what General Assembly offers is these fully immersive Programs where it’s either, you can either go way of three months, or if you’re working full-time you can go into one of our flex programs, which is catered to that, to, to be more of a part-time course.
But overall, it’s, uh, it is a, a bootcamp style institution where you can pick up some foundational knowledge within those verticals I mentioned.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah. And like who are these boot camps like for, because like you said, there’s a ton of boot camps out there. It could be if you’re full-time, part-time, if you’re right outta school and you want to pivot already like who’s, like the people that are typically going to general Assembly and to note everyone.
This is not like a promotion for general assembly. Mark is literally just thrown general assembly and it’s a great resource for people to like check out. So can, yeah. Can you give us a little bit of context of who checks this out?
Mark Pasadilla: Yeah, it’s, it’s kind of widespread. You’d be surprised. Um, I mean, there are folks who come either straight outta college folks who didn’t go to a traditional route of getting a four year degree, but kind of entered the, the, the workspace in some form or capacity just to start picking up some experience, but then realized, my passions lie elsewhere.
Whether Yeah, design, software, engineering, what, whatever it may be. All the way up to folks who have had seasoned careers and just kind of feel like they wanna change. So, I would probably say the, the vast majority of the general assembly student has kind of been somewhere in that Maybe three to five year range in terms of work experience.
Yeah. But just are looking to pivot from one industry to another, [00:06:00] be it service industry, healthcare industry, finance industry. That kind of varies wildly, but yeah.
Ryan Atkinson: And is there one right now that you’re seeing like people are taking these courses? Is there one that’s like super hot right now?
Cause like data analytics, I’m assuming is a really hot course, but like what are people like typically like signing up for right now? Just for a industry watts spectrum of it.
Mark Pasadilla: What we have seen thus far, software engineering is actually our, probably our most popular program from my experience anyways, as far as career coaching is concerned UX design would probably be a close second, but I would say software engineering has been the largest to this point.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah. And if someone is wanting to sign up for like a gen general assembly course, they come to Mark like, Hey, like, I wanna do one of your courses. Like, what’s like three things that you tell ’em to like really like hone in as like, is this really for you? Or like, how should people think about, like, is this for me when they’re signing up for any bootcamp?
Mark Pasadilla: Yeah. That’s a good question. I think. I think the first question you need to ask yourself when considering that is, is why, why is this something that is powerful to you? Because the boot camps are pretty quick, I mean, 12 weeks, or, 24 weeks depending on which one you would, would work best for you.
Either way, they go lightning fast and there’s a lot of information that you learn in that amount of time and being able to keep up with such dense course material. And that much time can be a little bit overwhelming. And so really trying to hone in on what is my end goal here? By taking something or, or pursuing a bootcamp such as this, is it that, I, I really, truly do want to enter this space as a, as a professional in that respective area?
Or is it that I just kind of wanna, I think, I like playing video games and just kind of curious about what goes into. The programming behind that, and it ends there. When you hone in on what it is that you, you, that, that is truly important to you within that [00:08:00] space, then you can kind of decide, all right, what are, what do the different boot boot camps that are out there, what do they offer?
I think what sets us tends to set us apart is that we have the career coaching aspect. Part of the outcomes team is what we call it. And that that parallels their course instruction the whole way through versus like, okay, you go learn your 12 weeks and then a after you graduate, then I’ll come in as a career coach.
It’s not quite like that. We, we go with you throughout that journey the whole time. So, Considering what, what it is that you need will be really helpful in making that decision. That’s interesting.
Ryan Atkinson: And then can you give us like an overview? Let’s just say like, okay, like I talked to Mark, like yes. Like I’m super excited to like, sign out for one of these courses.
Like if, if they like, like 12 weeks for example, like what’s like typically found in like, uh, like a general assembly, like course for like a bootcamp.
Mark Pasadilla: Typically found in, well, I mean, like I said, it’s like a lot of foundational knowledge, you know? Yeah. It is definitely catered to someone who’s coming in very green, mm-hmm. And then builds from there on, on certain elements that are prevalent and relevant to that respective industry today. But it is also built to kind of nudge you to learn how to learn. Mm.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah. That’s really, really cool. I do wanna pivot a little bit more to like advice for young working professionals.
That’s what I’m super curious about as a young working professional in my, in, just as a young working professional. So take me to like, like the early days, like what’s one thing that you think like every young working professional should get right early on in their career?
Mark Pasadilla: That’s a good question cuz I was one of those folks where I was like, I don’t know what to do.
No. I think, but now, you know, looking back, right? Everything, everything in hindsight’s always 2020. So, for young professionals now kind of starting out, I would definitely say set your goals. Figure out what your, what your goals are. But that doesn’t mean necessarily like, I just graduated from college, I should know where I wanna [00:10:00] be five, 10 years from now.
I always struggled with that question when, when, whether asked in an interview or just in general, like, oh, where do you see yourself in five years? Mm-hmm. Especially nowadays cuz things move so quickly with the digital edge and whatnot. It’s hard to answer that. So I think setting goals in a way that are what’s the word I’m looking for?
Like, Tangible, palpable, feel like, it’s something that is completely within your grasp, but you know that you want to get to from there, you can build upon, what’s next instead of, what, what is, what am I gonna reach, 2000 steps from now. What am I gonna reach three steps from now?
I’m like, hmm, you can pivot it that way, then you can build a rhythm. And if you ever pivot along that way, that’s totally fine because you can always look back and see what you have done that point in time. So I think it’s hard nowadays cuz most people are like, I wanna get there now. So, yeah. Yeah.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah, and that’s like an important step that you said. Cause I feel like a lot of people are like, oh, like I see like my end goal here, like where I want to go. But like, like you said, you basically have to take three steps before you can get to 2000 steps, which is a very important concept that a lot of people like my age, even myself, like probably can’t really wrap their mind around yet.
Mark Pasadilla: Yeah, for sure. I mean, patience is a virtue.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah. Is there like an action? So you, you like setting goals, great. Setting goals, like how many, what should be like in your goals? Should it be like, I wanna reach this salary in X amount of years, I wanna reach this pr, this job title X amount of years? Or like, what are some things that you would recommend if someone is gonna set goals, what they should like specifically include?
Mark Pasadilla: I think you gotta look internally, you gotta look at your, your passions. What’s meaningful to you, right. Are you, are you someone like me who came in, who had a background in athletics, knew I like, was always interested in sports? How can I get into that field or do something that really, really interests me and that I’m strongly passionate about?
But dude, This kind of work. Is there a way for me to be a software engineer in the sports industry? You know, cuz at that, cuz when you do, when you look at it that way, you’re setting [00:12:00] yourself up to feel better about the work you’re doing. Mm-hmm. Versus just kind of eyeing a number. , some people do that where it’s salary’s very important and that there’s no knock against that.
That’s, that’s kind of the way things go. So I think. The first thing is to look in, inside yourself and be like, well, what do I care about? Mm-hmm. And then go from there. Okay. I always care about these certain things here. Is there a way for me to maximize spending time on those things as a working professional?
Okay, now who can I have conversations with, right? Mm-hmm. I tell all my students, networking is king. They’re probably sick of hearing it, but it’s just true. So, what are your passions? Who can you network with? And then have those conversations and see who they know too. Yeah.
Ryan Atkinson: What are some of the networking strategies that you use that you tell your students, Hey, like if you’re passionate about this, go reach out to people.
Is it through LinkedIn, through email, or like what are some specific strategies that you use? For networking. Yeah.
Mark Pasadilla: Well, COVID certainly threw a wrench in some of that, didn’t it? LinkedIn is huge. LinkedIn’s huge nowadays. I mean, it’s the largest networking site that a lot of people use. And there are a lot of ways to just kind of find out who does what, where.
Hmm. And you can kind of get a glimpse into their own, you know, career arc or professional journey and see if that’s interesting or resonates with you. And then you can reach out to those people. But there are other ways to go about things. I share things like this is a shout out to ADP list.org.
, it’s a, it’s a site built for mentorship. People who have signed up there purposely seeking mentees to kind of help out. That’s a great place. Low hanging fruit to be able to start your networking. But if you even wanna start more shallow or, or more internally looking at, well, who do I know now?
Who do I know now that either is doing what I’m interested in, is doing something adjacent to what I’m interested in or knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody that is, you know, doing something I’m interested in? That’s [00:14:00] grassroots networking really. There are places like meetup.com that host a number of really interesting events.
meetup.com actually hosts a lot of, um, online events now too. So, those are just great places to get started.
Ryan Atkinson: I am curious, like from even like a personal story that you have or like a story that your students have shared, is there like one specific example where like networking has like really benefited someone, it’s like, oh, I found my job through, through networking, or does any like story come to mind?
Mark Pasadilla: Yeah, this one, I, I landed at ga through the power of networking. I was recruiting, you know, I had been recruiting for about four plus ish years and I knew that I wanted to get more deeper into, personal and sorry, personal and professional growth and development. I found out about career coaching.
I just didn’t know about it within an organization. I knew career coaching as like an individual business. Yep. When I found out about it as something that is a part of organizations, I started to dig a little bit and, and be like, well, who can I talk to and learn more about that stuff? I landed on general assembly.
I reached out to five different career coaches and managers there, and I had five separate conversations. This was in November of 2021 and, great conversations, right? But there was nothing open at the time. Cool. I maintained contact four months later, April, 2022, they reached out to me basically saying, Hey, remember that conversation we had?
Are, are you still in the market? Entered into an interview process and that’s what got me the job.
Ryan Atkinson: So That’s amazing. And how did you like stay in touch with them? Was it like, just like LinkedIn messages every like, Month or so, or, I think that’s a really cool story cuz like you, you didn’t get denied first, but there wasn’t an opportunity there first, but one opened up four months later, so I think that’s really cool.
Like how, like what, how did you do like stay in touch?
Mark Pasadilla: Yeah. No, so I, I did use the power of LinkedIn to first kind of initiate conversations with people there. And then through that it was either through LinkedIn or email. Cause I was able to secure, [00:16:00] you know, that kind of contact information through that.
I had a number of informational interviews. And then from there, yeah, I just maintained contact through those platforms just to kind of keep the conversation alive, but not necessarily be. Annoying. I, I spaced it out enough to be like, ah, how you doing? Check in type of stuff and yeah.
Ryan Atkinson: That’s really sweet. Was there like one thing, like throughout your networking process that you did that like you think really stood out to people or vice versa? Is there like one networking strategy people have used on you where it’s like, that has really stood out to you?
Mark Pasadilla: Well for, for me in terms of the networking I did for myself I’ve leaned on, I’ve leaned on Gorilla networking on LinkedIn.
I’ve also, and all the jobs I’ve held have always been able to make great connections with people there and. I’ve kind of been able to reach out and, and shoot my shot, so to speak, in terms of like, you know, letting them know where I was and, and if they knew anyone that would be worth talking to. I think that’s important to think about when you’re networking, right?
With others. It’s not, I, I try to tell people, don’t go into networking, expecting to get something back. Go into it with an interest in that person that you are talking to, you know, and because you wanna learn about them. And then the ask, the important ask is, Do you think there’s anyone else that, that I should be talking to about this?
Mm-hmm. That could either, you could either the conversation could either end there. I’m like, oh, we all think about it. And then you don’t hear back or they say, oh yeah, let me set you up with so-and-so. And both are fine. It’s just a matter of putting that, putting it out there and shooting your shot.
So that’s worked really well for me. In terms of how other people have networked , with me usually that’s been through personal connections cuz I’ve just kind of been able to, to build great relationships and that is always like interesting cuz you always find out, oh, this person and that person and yeah.
Ryan Atkinson: No, that’s really cool. It sounds like relationship building has been like one of like the biggest things in your life, [00:18:00] um, even like getting this role. And you just said it right there. Can you share with us, like has that been like your biggest, would you attribute that to like your success the most is like your relationship building skills or what are some like other traits that have really like made you stand out in your career?
Mark Pasadilla: I would say so. I mean, if I’m, I’m gonna perform a self-assessment. I do think that the way that I approach building relationships, the way that I approach making connections with people is, is probably my strength. I love having one-on-ones with people, you know, sitting down and really understanding where a person is coming from, listening actively and, and, and drawing a connection to my own experiences as a recruiter, especially if they’re a job seeker, and, and kind of helping them navigate that space.
I think also though, like, through my own, years of experience, , it’s, my communication style has developed in such a way to where I’m able to pull in my, my own personality. I was lean on humor. That’s just something that’s, yeah. Been within me for a while to being able to make connections to pop culture or whatever it is.
I’m able to kind of drive a conversation and, and keep it Keep it as such so that the person feels comfortable and, and can at least feel like, I’m, I’m here to help. Yeah. That’s, that’s helped me along the way in my career thus far. That’s awesome.
Ryan Atkinson: Because my follow up question at that is like, what are like some of the important, like soft skills?
We’ll approach it from two ways. What are the important soft skills that someone young in their career should develop? And then technical skills. Are there any like specific technical skills that you think that they should acquire young in their career?
Mark Pasadilla: Well, soft skills, uh, we’ve been talking about it, right?
Communication. It’s, I think that’s an undersold thing in my opinion, like being communicate well. Like people kind of take that with a grain of salt, like, okay. Yeah. Communication. Cool. No, I mean, it really is something, I mean, you’re always communicating whether you’re networking, you’re interviewing. Those things, it becomes really important [00:20:00] to those around you in terms of how you are making a connection, cuz that’s how we are able to communicate in the first place is by building a connection and then kind of going from there.
So I think the soft skill of being able to communicate well there’s something to be said about being personable. Yeah. It, it’s not to say that you need to go out there and like, change your personality altogether. Not necessarily, but being able to just be personable and, and communicate well or effectively is, is really good technical skills.
I would say if you’re early off in starting your career now, I mean, some technical skills can dive deeper depending on what space you’re trying to go into. Yeah. Software engineering, there’s certain coding languages and programs, right. UX design, there’s certain tools that you need to use, but generally speaking, I think you should be aware of how to use such a thing as Zoom nowadays.
I think you should be aware of how to navigate such a thing as Slack nowadays for communication purposes. A lot of companies use them widely. And so, it helps in terms of just that little step of like maybe have an informational interview set up and you’re going through technical issues cuz you, you didn’t quite know how to navigate that.
Those kinds of things mean something in the long run, so, yeah.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah. So it’s being able to like, yeah, like everyone’s using Zoom nowadays. Everyone’s using some sort of online communication and it’s like you’ve, as someone that’s young in their career, I, I hope that they’re able to like figure out how these technologies work.
But I’m sure I, I, I’m sure I would be surprised at the Mount that like don’t actually know how to work it. I don’t know if that’s true, but , so what are some of like the common mistakes early on, we talked about, just to sum it up, we’ve talked about what are some of the ways they can. Work or stand out early in their career or there some tra traits.
Are there any common mistakes that people make early on in their career that people should probably avoid?
Mark Pasadilla: This probably boils back down to like communication again. In networking, right? There’s a way to, I don’t [00:22:00] wanna say there’s a way to, but there are, there are times where you can.
Put people on the defensive when you’re reaching out and networking, right? Mm-hmm. For example, if you reached out aggressively to be like, Hey, my name is Mark. I came across your profile on LinkedIn and I see that you work at this company. Are you hiring? Can we talk, , That can immediately, and I’m speaking, you know, putting my, my former recruiter hat back on too from, from experience there.
Cuz most people will see that message and, and, and feel like, oh, okay, I, I don’t know you, um, hi, first of all. Um, but so, so there’s a way to, to be able to mitigate that by, communicating in such a way to, to express interest in them. I think. That’s some mistake I’ve seen some people make in terms of reaching out for networking opportunities.
Um, other mistakes that some people make this, these aren’t necessarily mistakes because Yeah, very real things, but like, not, not putting forth any, not just not moving, not putting forth any movement. When you’re in your job search or you’re in a move to enter this new space, some people can freeze up because they feel like, I need to make sure any sort of job application material, my resume, my portfolio, you kn ow, my GitHub, whatever it is, it needs to be perfect.
It needs to be flawless before I even start. And I think that’s a mistake because if you’re young in your, in your career and you’re young in your job search, the best way to learn is to fail forward. Get out there and start making connections. Get out there and apply. Um, And, and you refine from there.
You see what happens. And I mean, I come in as a career coach to kind of help mitigate some of those things, but at the same time, I can’t make you do anything. I can, I can provide resources, I can provide information but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to take the step. So, I love that.
Ryan Atkinson: And Mark, we’ll end it there. This was a super awesome [00:24:00] conversation just about communication general assembly all that was all really good. So Mark, I really appreciate the time today. Thank you so, so much for joining us. It was a quick one, so thank you so much for being here.
Mark Pasadilla: Absolutely. My pleasure.
Thanks for having me.