Job profile: Hard work, initiative has taken English major far in tech-oriented company.
Jaime DeLanghe, 29, is a senior product manager at Etsy in New York.
Q: What do you do as a product manager?
A: I lead a team responsible for coming up with the best ways for shoppers to find items on our site, and for sellers to advertise their items to potential buyers.
Q: Did you start out in this position?
A: I was promoted. When I graduated from Wesleyan University in 2008 with an English degree, I thought I’d work in publishing or for a magazine. But it was a tough job market after the financial crisis. I worked at coffee shops, and in 2010 I got a job at Etsy in customer support answering emails from buyers and sellers about their accounts and taking part in live chats.
Q: How did you move into your present position?
A: Hard work. Many jobs here deal with technology, and I didn’t know anything about that or the Internet culture. I’m not happy if I don’t understand something, so I read books and took online classes. I taught myself to program in Python on my own time, and Etsy’s engineers helped me learn about website development. I was promoted to a product development group and helped develop tools for managing buyers’ and sellers’ policy violations, and eventually I was promoted to this role. My official title is senior product manager of search and discovery and ads.
Q: Do you also manage employees?
A: Yes, I manage product managers in charge of search and discovery and ads. I find it natural, but when you’re somebody’s boss, people seem to hear you differently and they take you more seriously. I wasn’t mentally prepared for that. I’m very aware of it and am still getting used to it.
Q: How would you describe your career path at Etsy so far?
A: I feel lucky that I got into a company when it was relatively young. Etsy was founded in 2005, and I joined about six years ago. We had about 100 people then and now there are over 800. My role expanded as the company grew.
Q: Do you feel your rise was fairly rapid compared with other employees?
A: No, things happen quickly in companies that focus on technology. I’ve worked hard, but I was presented with several opportunities. You have to take them and run with them.