Nadia started at Contentful as a solutions engineer just over a month ago. She’s finishing her onboarding, and all of the experiences that come with being new at a company are fresher than spring asparagus. (We eat a lot of asparagus in Germany.) I wanted to ask her about remote onboarding, why she chose Contentful and what advice she gives to help others succeed.
Non-technical solutions engineers at Contentful
“What interested you in Contentful?”
The product. I became familiar with Contentful over the past couple of years while working with one of Contentful’s partner companies. I had the chance to see a few demos during partner-led calls for prospects. During these demos, the product impressed me. I could see how business-user friendly the platform is and how easy and intuitive it is to use. The fact that you don’t have to have deep technical knowledge in order to understand the platform made me instantly interested.
My education background is business-oriented, so I tend to focus on business value more than functionalities and features of products. Though I don’t have a development background, I did learn the value of software while working as a non-technical solutions engineer within companies like Contentful that focused on customer experience tools. After encountering Contentful on various occasions, I started looking into it a bit more.
“How did the interview process go?”
The interview process and meeting the team is what ultimately convinced me to join Contentful.
The hiring manager was very knowledgeable and interesting. We had some great conversations, and I realized that I would be able to learn a lot from this person who would be a great career coach. This was key to making my decision to join. Every career step has brought me the ability to grow and learn.
Meeting the team helped me understand the details of the role and what my day-to-day work would look like. I had worried a bit about how technical the position would be, and they were the best suited to answer my questions. Though I had already worked as a solutions engineer, I’m not a developer and the title of “engineer” is always a bit intimidating to anyone without deep IT development skills. The team made it clear during the process that deep technical knowledge would not be necessary.
I loved the team culture and spirit. Everyone was very open and willing to clarify my questions. It made me want to become part of the team.
Getting started at Contentful
“How did the first month go?”
The first month has been really great! For now, I am mostly getting to know the company, going through onboarding and getting to know people. I had meetings with everyone on my team in the first week of starting. I met the solutions engineers, account executives and all kinds of people that I’ll be working with. I have a buddy within the solutions engineering team who will help me onboard from a product perspective. I’ve also participated in a program that Contentful runs, which pairs you randomly with someone else for a short meeting. It’s a great way to get to know people across the company, even if it’s just online.
Contentful also makes new teammates feel welcome during the first few days by pairing us with what they call a Contentful First Friend. This is a program the company runs to help newbies get to know the place and have a person to ask all sorts of questions about the company. It’s pretty fun!
“You mentioned onboarding. What does that look like?”
I was impressed to find that Contentful has a very well structured onboarding program. There are two parts to it, the general onboarding and the solutions engineers onboarding. This ensures that I’ll have a good comprehension of the company, the teams and the product itself by the end of it.
Everyone goes through the general onboarding. It includes multiple meetings throughout the first month. There you learn about the company overall, the product, company culture, core values, the structure, who does what and which teams work on which projects. It helped me understand how the company works and who to reach out to for what questions. It also helped explain the vision and future goals of Contentful.
The solutions engineer onboarding is designed specially for my team. It teaches you about the product and prepares you for customer interactions. The process is incredibly comprehensive. It involves detailed product training, marketing strategy, rules of engagement and so on.
Having this detailed onboarding equips me to be a capable solutions engineer from the very beginning. All necessary information is available from the start, so I will be able to start speaking with customers more quickly. And it's not just theoretical learning. I am currently shadowing other solutions engineers in meetings, learning how calls are handled at Contentful and how to demonstrate the platform. It's really helping me get up to speed.
The onboarding also includes getting the Contentful Certification. As a solutions engineer, I need to understand the product in detail. To succeed and pass the final test, they provide me with a study guide, documentation and videos. The certification exam is soon, so I was actually studying right before this interview. Once completed, I’ll have an extensive understanding of the product, especially the technical aspects of it.
“Is onboarding online turning out to be difficult?”
Not at all. I am already used to working with an international team, so Zoom meetings and online sessions aren’t a problem for me. Plus, we get to do some hands-on work. Being involved and getting to work with people is really easy here.
Future opportunities and some advice
“Is there anything specific that you are looking forward to?”
The training opportunities that Contentful offers are exciting. There’s a great yearly education budget that I am looking forward to using. I would love to improve my leadership skills, so I’ll probably be taking classes related to that.
This being said, the thing I am looking forward to the most is to see where Contentful is going to go in the future. The company is growing rapidly, which means I have the opportunity to grow with it in the long term.
“What's your advice for solutions engineers interested in joining the team?”
Just do it! Don’t be scared to apply, especially if you have no development background. My own study background is in strategy and consulting, so from my personal experience I can say with confidence that you don’t have to be a software engineer to be a Solutions Engineer. You will be more focused on the business added value, and will be able to work with clients and prospects that have teams interested to understand specifically that. A big chunk of Contentful’s users are editors and creators. These marketers are just as interested in what we have to offer for their daily tasks as developers are. Knowing how to talk to them and understanding what their needs are is very important for being a great solutions engineer.
With all the tools offered, you will get to sharpen your technical skills over time. The main skill you need to be successful as a solution engineer is curiosity and eagerness to learn new things. The good news is that there is so much to learn, do and explore within Contentful, that you will never get bored here!
Explore opportunities and apply today.