Career progression at Contentful: From working student to associate field marketing manager

Illustartion of Enxhi standing on a ladder leading to  door, wearing a Contentful tshirt and holding a laptop
Published
June 29, 2021
Category

Product

Enxhi Hamzallari wasn’t always an associate field marketing manager at Contentful. When she first started, she was a working student supporting field marketing, organizing events designed for the developer audience. We had a sit-down to talk about what it was like being a student worker at Contentful, the transition to full time and what she does now.

Starting out at Contentful as a working student

How did you find Contentful?

I had just moved to Germany when I started at Contentful. I was working on my master’s degree when I saw the opportunity to join as a working student on the field marketing team.

The position was perfect for me. It combined my interest in marketing with my background in engineering. I had recently won a startup competition for a geolocation-based tourist app for which I wrote the code and and I managed the project’s branding and logistics. And so, the working student position made perfect sense to me as a next step to further my skill set in this direction. 

I started at Contentful in June 2019. Initially I was working on developer community events. I spent my days supporting community leaders in organizing meetups and events, marketing to and interacting with them. I’m a very social person, so having the opportunity to be in the field and directly interact with developers and people in the technology space was exciting. 

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What was starting at Contentful like? 

Everyone was very warm and welcoming. I was delighted to know that the company had a Contentful First Friend program. I was paired with someone who had already been working at Contentful for a while. They helped me with all the questions I had about the organization and working here, and helped with the onboarding process. They also helped me integrate with the team through coffee and lunch breaks, sharing tidbits from our daily lives.  

My manager, Irina, has been my mentor ever since I started. I’ve learned a lot from her. She’s also become a close friend. Some of my fondest initial memories at Contentful are from the company offsite. Irina encouraged me to join the event so I could have the opportunity to connect with everyone. I’m glad I was able to make it, despite my packed school schedule, as I met so many people who helped me feel at home at Contentful. 

What was being a working student at Contentful like? 

I was still “discovering” marketing when I started. Being a working student helped me learn what field marketing is as a career track, and what managing and marketing events is like. It is here that I realized — this is what I want to do in the future. Contentful was the perfect opportunity for me to start taking my first steps toward the career direction I was always interested in. 

The focus of my role was to support the many business-to-developer (B2D) community events. Martin Walker, a colleague of mine in the Marketing department, was the one running the Contentful Community meetups when I joined. Initially, I shadowed him and supported him to make sure everything ran smoothly. Part of me being there was to nurture better relationships with the communities. Some of my day-to-day tasks included doing promotions around upcoming events, getting in touch with speakers, making sure they had everything they needed from us in terms of tech and tools at the beginning of events, as well as rehearsing with them for their upcoming talks. After each meetup, I would edit these talks and publish them on the Contentful YouTube channel

I worked 20 hours a week running the events. Event life means starting after 12:00 PM, since they’re later in the day. I would just use the time in the morning before noon to do my school stuff. To be honest, it was enjoyable. I had managed to create a schedule where I got to study, work and then enjoy the late evenings with friends. 

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Transitioning to full time, challenges and something to be excited about

What changed after the transition? 

The transition to a full-time employee at Contentful was smooth. After I signed the contract, my manager started me off on a number of new projects. We upscaled the B2D events program in terms of the number and size of the community meetups. I started supporting big, branded developer conferences and events. I also got deeply involved with projects led by the developer relations team at Contentful and worked closely on managing them.

A few months after my transition to full time, the Covid-19 pandemic started. We had to cancel our regular in-person community meetups and events. In addition, one of the biggest events I was working on at the time was Contentful’s annual customer roadshow called Blueprints by Contentful. I was focused on the developer track of the roadshow and had to work with my team to pivot the program to be entirely digital within 4-6 weeks.

I also worked with the developer relations team for an online GraphQL course paired with a series for GraphQL livestreams. And we also launched a “Submit a GQL project” program in which you would receive some fun limited edition GraphQL swag if you submitted a project.`

Since events are a major part of my job, I really believe that participating in third-party conferences is a great way for us to support Contentful’s brand awareness, brand building and expand our recruitment pipeline. This is why I am always on the lookout for developers and engineers from Contentful who want to speak at events, whether it be these third-party conferences or our own Contentful Community events. I take care of end-to-end speaker management for these types of events and manage our customer and partner speakers for some of our biggest branded events, such as Blueprints by Contentful. 

What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced so far?

There are the usual logistical challenges: making sure everything gets delivered within the deadlines, collecting talk recordings on time, making sure our production team has all the resources they need to edit and produce top-notch content. 

But the biggest challenge for us as a field marketing team has been the pandemic. It drastically altered the way we conceptualize and execute events. We went from doing in-person events to purely digital ones in a very short time span. We not only had to figure out the right tools and platforms to deliver these events, but also how to promote these events to the right audience and create great event experiences — fully virtually. The most important thing for me now is making sure that we are still supporting the same communities that we used to in the past, even though every event is run digitally. It is not just the big events that have logistical challenges — the small events, the community meetups, they need just as much attention. 

Running smaller individual events is very important to me personally and professionally. This is how I started out with my career, and how I want to keep going forward. We have so many vibrant communities to nurture. And many of these communities have been quiet for some time now. Figuring out how to revive them and excite them is extremely important to me. One example is how I started hosting live streams on Twitch with the developer evangelists at Contentful instead of the city meetups that we used to have. This has allowed us to engage with smaller, local communities again. 

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Is there anything you particularly enjoy at Contentful, or projects you are really proud of?

We broadcasted a series of livestreams with the Developer Relations team since summer last year. It was really engaging to work with the community live and online. These livestreams and Fast Forward by Contentful, Contentful’s first-ever annual customer conference, have been the highlights of my time at Contentful.

I am excited for similar big, branded events that we are working on for this year as well. We’ve learned a lot since the pandemic started and have mastered the art of delivering exciting digital events.

I love my role because I get to work with many different teams with Contentful, especially in the marketing and engineering departments. Other than the field marketing team, I work a lot with the developer relations and customer marketing teams. For our bigger branded events such as Blueprints by Contentful or Fast Forward by Contentful, I also collaborate with the partner marketing and product marketing teams. 

How has working with Contentful helped you and your career grow?

I’ve learned so much about myself and I can see my career path more clearly as more time passes by and I grow into my role. I’ve gotten better at time management during the pandemic and have learned to pace myself. I’ve also learned to see the bigger picture and expanded my network. I have more ideas, more ownership and more confidence in what I do now. 

Illustration of three Matryoshka nesting dolls standing together, smiling

What do you hope to see more of in Contentful in the future?

I think something really important is looking for talent outside the countries where we have our offices such as Germany and the US. Managers who believe in the potential of people, regardless of whether they join Contentful outside of these main hubs, have been successful at hiring great talent that has made a difference and I think this is something we can easily replicate within different teams at Contentful.

Believing in talent that isn’t necessarily local is important. Having more diverse teams produces more opportunities for innovation and inspiration. They bring so much inspiration to the team, no matter what the obstacles are. It makes the working culture at Contentful beautiful. It encourages us to connect and support each other.

Join Enxhi and the rest of the crew at Contentful — check out the career page.

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