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Season 2, Ep. 14 – Meet the team: Gun.io’s Client Experience Coordinator, Cameron Holmes

It’s not easy keeping all the balls in the air when it comes to matching multiple developers to multiple projects. Luckily, we have Cameron Holmes, one of our extremely talented and multi-faceted Client Experience Coordinators. Hear what he has to say about taking on a whole new kind of job and what it takes to keep it all together.

Faith Benson
Faith Benson

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Transcript

Faith (00:05):

Cameron, welcome to the Frontier Podcast.

Cameron (00:09):

Thank you. Yeah, I’ve been listening to the other ones for the other team members so I can kind of get to know more of their background and I guess kind of like their perspective on everything that we do.

Faith (00:17):

Have you? You’re the most well-prepared guest. Everybody else gets on here and they’re like, they think it’s like a Zoom meeting. They’re like, What’s our agenda? And I’m like, We’re creating content, guys. Well, welcome. I’m excited to have you. I’m thrilled that you are maybe not a fan, but at least like a loyal listener of the Frontier podcast. That’s great. <Laugh>. Ok. Cameron, what is your—let’s start with like your job here, and then we’re gonna work backwards. What’s your official title?

Cameron (00:47):

I’m the Client Experience Coordinator. I mean, I was the first of the two that we have now. So really, I mean a coordinator is pretty much just a liaison. I think like the most immediate answer for what I do all day is just kind like manage responses. I know sometimes it seems like that’s not a full job or workload for someone to do <laugh>, but with I guess the amount of clients and developers that we work with, keeping somebody kind of focused on that has been really important.

Faith (01:15):

Yeah, a hundred percent. When we were designing the coordinator role, the gap was, our promise is that we’re gonna be really prompt with feedback and making sure that everything moves quickly. And the problem was we just had way too many balls in the air and really needed somebody to kind of step in and make those connections, like you said. That’s like the super zoomed in version. Obviously, like zoomed out is we like—as a business, we’re connecting hires with talent. And when you’re doing that without a service like us, like if you’re a hirer and listening, you probably feel this viscerally. Like your inbox is just always full of stuff that needs attention. And so Cameron’s a part of working with Gun.io that makes that super easy, because he’s kind of running all that defense on your behalf.

Cameron (02:10):

Yeah, and I mean even prior to me joining, having like so many different functions kind of on someone else’s plate. So like, Jesse who’s the account manager, having her do the coordination within all of the account management, like I just don’t even know how that was possible.

Faith (02:25):

Yeah. You also have this experience that I feel like a lot of people have either had or are curious about where you joined a startup—like a still pretty small company—and were dropped into a role that didn’t exist before you got here. Like what was your experience with that? How did you navigate kind of carving out a role here?

Cameron (02:47):

Well, I think it’s been really interesting. I mean, even just like last week, I realized that I think we’ve officially doubled from the size we were at when I joined—I was like 13 or 14, and then now we’re nearing 30. 

Faith (02:59):

Mhm

Cameron (03:00):

I’d worked in a couple of other kind of tech and startup style companies, where there’s a lot of ambiguity, and there was a lot of things for everyone to kinda take part in, which I really like. But I think kind of the difference that I found in Gun very immediately was that no one shies away from their responsibilities. And so I really like that when the role was designed, like I think there was a very clear set of like objectives for me to accomplish and then kinda responsibilities that I had ownership over that other people didn’t really have to worry about anymore. But also there hasn’t been siloing. So like there’s a lot of opportunities for me to pitch in helping other teams kinda poking my head, watching recordings of their meetings, stuff like that that I think you can’t necessarily get outside of a tech company where things are really siloed but also kinda a smaller team where people are really happy to collaborate and they encourage it.

Faith (03:50):

Mhm. Yeah, I think that’s your superpower. If I were to like name everybody’s superpower, yours is curiosity.

Cameron (04:00):

Yeah, I tend to read like all the Slacks all the time, <laugh>, everything that’s going on. A lot of times you’ll even of pick up context. I mean, being a coordinator is obviously like—sometimes clients will communicate with other people when they should be giving me certain information. And so I can have to go be the fly on the wall, collect it, and put it I needs to go. So I’m just kinda used to like being very hyper aware.

Faith (04:21):

So you’ve been here—you’re almost at your one year anniversary, which is crazy (Cameron: But that’s exciting.) Yeah. If there’s like one thing that you’ve become an expert on so far in your time here and you were to like write a book about that thing, what do you think it would be?

Cameron (04:36):

I think something that’s kind of unexpected for me was really like finding the job that is just the best fit for you. And I think since I sit in in so many interviews and I hear people mutually kind of evaluate if like the developer wants to do the project or the job, if the company wants to work with the developer, I think I had a little bit more of like a fear before I worked here of like, okay, when I go apply for a job, the company has all the leverage and I’m kind of like playing the numbers game, and it’s whatever I can get. And so I think working in this job and also seeing other people go through that experience on a daily basis, I think it’s really important to find the right fit for what you wanna do—which sounds cliche. Everyone’s like, Oh, you should enjoy your work. But I think looking kind of internally and analyzing like what are your strengths? What are the things that you tend to do, what are the things that you don’t like doing? Like I don’t like getting up really early. I don’t like traveling. So working remote—well, I like traveling for leisure. I don’t like the commute having to sit in traffic and go to an office and use that time. So I think working remote and just having a lot of flexibility was something that was really important for me. So working with clients that are all over the place and where I can kinda provide that has been really great. And then also just again, like I read all the slacks, I’m very organized. Finding a job where my habits are core strengths was really important. And so I think that’s definitely any advice I can give is just to really like determine what you wanna put into a job and then find the jobs that match that. 

Faith (06:05):

That’s a really good—like I might write that in a post-it note and put it in my laptop. Like, “Your habits are your core strengths.” I think that’s—

Cameron (06:17):

If there’s something you never wanna do, you probably shouldn’t find a job where that’s your main responsibility.

Faith (06:21):

<Laugh> Right. ‘Cause I’m like all for stretching a little bit and getting a little bit uncomfortable. But if that’s your entire job, that’s also really insightful, Cameron. ‘Cause like you’re right—you sit on—you’ve probably sat in on more interviews then most HR managers do in their first year, because like we’ve got so many kind of like open roles on our books. I really appreciate that takeaway. Like it’s really easy when you’re in the job seeking space to think that you don’t have any leverage in these conversations. And so that’s really cool insight that like, no actually, you know, you see both sides, and you know that often the the final decision is really with the talent. 

Cameron (07:06):

Yeah. And I think especially if you’re younger, there’s also more of a fear just being new, being more entry level. And so luckily, I mean I’ve worked in a couple different companies since I graduated, so this wasn’t my first. I kind of had a little bit of experience where I really loved certain environments and didn’t like other ones. So I wasn’t necessarily able to like walk in here and call the shots and say, Oh I want this and I don’t want this. But I definitely think there’s a respectful way. And kinda an expectation when you’re interviewing, people will ask you, you know—really good interviewers or even just kind of the standard questions. They’re trying to get a feel for what you do and don’t like, and it’s ok to like say no—

Faith  (07:40):

Right.

Cameron (07:40):

And not take any job that’s available.

Faith (07:43):

Right. Yeah. It’s easy to say when we’re both employed, obviously <laugh>, but I hope I remember that one day when I am job searching that like, you know, any discomfort that there is in the job search, you know, it’s gonna be way better if I just kind of sit in that discomfort a little bit longer and find something that’s a good fit, rather than settling.

Cameron (08:03):

Yeah. And I think it also relies on you being honest. ‘Cause sometimes you know, what you read on paper is not all that there is to a job. And so I think especially in the interviews that I sit in on, if you give very short canned answers—I mean it doesn’t matter if you’re telling them a yes or a no, they’re gonna get the same kind of takeaway, which is that you’re not that interested or you don’t really care to be there. And so even if you’re saying what you think they wanna hear, if you’re not really giving them a lot of honesty and like intention I guess—

Faith (08:31):

Yeah. Like a lot of you. 

Cameron (08:34):

Yeah. I mean ‘cause people will find a fit for you on their team if they think you’re a superstar, even if they don’t necessarily wanna get on a Zoom with you all day every day.

Faith (08:42):

<Laugh>. Yeah. Obviously this is like the—not only are you the first person to hold the role that you have here, but also like, I don’t think you’ve had this exact role before. Tell me like a little bit about your career history before you landed here.

Cameron (08:58):

Well so my degree is in industrial distribution, which is pretty much like a blend of technical sales, supply chain management. If you know what a distributor is—so like kind of in between a manufacturer and retail—it’s like the supply chain where you don’t really necessarily produce your product but you’re kind of essential in getting it to its end point, like the customers. And so I really was—I thought that I was on a path towards sales, and it was just very difficult to kinda get a start there. So I went into client support instead, which is I guess like the little brother to sales <laugh>. It’s the enablement. So I worked in that, I was in the logistics industry, which was just really, really demanding.

Faith (09:38):

Also like mid-Covid.

Cameron (09:40):

Yeah. Right as that was setting on. So luckily, I was like right at the time where everyone was going digital and starting remote work, because I remember when I was first applying to jobs, that was like very rare. And so when I found the job that was like that I thought I was lucky. And then so many other especially town companies went in that direction. So as like more recently when I applied to Gun, obviously— I don’t even think Gun was remote at that time in early 2020 yet.

Faith (10:04):

Yeah. We were remote at the start of the pandemic and then decided like three months in to just go all in and only hire distributed. So yeah, we were kind of late to the party.

Cameron (10:16):

Yeah, I’m a big supporter for that. So yeah, I kind of didn’t really love being in the logistics industry. It was familiar from like my supply chain degree, but it’s just really, really demanding. I wanted something that allowed me to have more like work life balance and just career trajectory with of roles that I would be I guess like able to advance into. And so from there I went to another company where I was doing product support. So I was doing the technical component that I had kinda been trained on through like engineering school without having to go and be a full coder. So I think that’s also what eventually led me towards Gun was like—I was a little bit familiar with kind the fundamentals in engineering and software, but I was definitely not a coder by any means. I had only really worked with like Python and Sequel and not very much. I didn’t really enjoy it either.

So again, kinda looking at like what I did wanna do, what didn’t wanna do, and then where my strengths were, which was in like client things organized, just like being a liaison. ‘Cause it’s kinda hard to find liaison jobs sometimes, unless they’re literally titled that—and there’s not a lot of them.

Faith (11:23):

And in those cases it’s like it could mean 16 different things.

Cameron (11:26):

Mm-Hmm. It’s really the needs of the team that you join. Right.

Faith (11:30):

I’ve got two questions for you, and both of them are advice questions. So the first is you’re kind of like the perfect image of the kind of candidate that a lot of companies wanna hire, which is like—you’re like a Swiss Army knife, you’ve got some really interesting kind of like diverse experience. You’re still—I mean, we’re both still early in our careers and you’ve just got this like hunger to learn and to excel. What is a piece of advice that you would give to a hire who’s trying to recruit folks like you?

Cameron (12:11):

Well I think what’s funny is some of the difficulty I really had in like finding my first job, it took me several months after I graduated. Obviously the pandemic was a huge factor in that. But like I would go on LinkedIn and see two applicants to jobs and I would really just like be overwhelmed with how competitive it was. And I put like hundreds of applications in before I got the first one. And then even going to the second one, it started to whittle down. I actually had a recruiter message me for the second one. And then for this job, I found it ‘cause I just really knew exactly what I was looking for, and I obviously was a very good fit for this role. So I think what’s really important is just really accurately writing the job description and putting it in the right place where people will find it.

So I mean sometimes when you go on LinkedIn it’s like impossible. You’re just flooded with like sales jobs that are commission only or like all these things that LinkedIn thinks are a good fit for you, but they’re really not. Mm-Hmm. And so it’s very difficult to find the jobs that you want that the right fit. And I mean obviously for our platform we’re structured differently. We’re  much more specialty and we’re really on top of matching people for the right fit. But I think as someone with a job to hire for, you have to really accurately post it and make sure it’s on the right channels. And then also like when you’re going through your applicants—I guess giving people sometimes the opportunity to show that they’re the right fit. So like I hadn’t been a coordinator before, but I had jobs that were similar that kinda led me on this path. And I think I had a lot of the soft skills that I was able to put into like my cover letter and answering questions and kinda demonstrating. So I mean think that’s kind more on your perspective with how I was in the interviews. You were the first interview that I had, but I know if you immediately looked at my resume and said, Oh know he’s only fresh outta school, doesn’t have coordinator experience exactly. But something else there is telling me that this is gonna be a fit.

Faith (14:04):

It was exactly what you called out at the beginning of our conversation, which was show genuine interest and like actually take the time to like share a little bit about yourself. I think we do a huge disservice to young people. Like I was a teacher—and I am guilty of this, where we tell them how to write in certain situations. Like here’s how you write a cover letter, and here’s how you write a professional email.

Cameron (14:31):

Mhm, and it all looks the same. 

Faith (14:33):

It all looks the same. It all looks like a robot did it. I mean, right or wrong. Like, that’s a signal to me that somebody does not actually care about the job. That said, we have to balance out with this understanding that on the job seeker side, in your experience it’s like, I mean—I gotta send a hundred of these before I even get one look. And so I think this is a—like we’re circling around a problem that like our company is solving, but we only exist for software developers. And so for all of the other professions, this is still a huge problem. But yeah, I think what really stood out was your writing and your cover letter, the time you took to understand the business, and how you made it super easy for me to see how your skills and experience were a perfect fit for this role. And you didn’t just say my skills and experience are a perfect fit for this role. You gave, you know, some like really like interesting concrete examples that made that synapse easy for me to make in my brain. 

Cameron (15:38):

Yeah, I think kinda my recommendation ‘cause I get asked this all the time from all sorts of places about like writing or how to write, either just in a professional sense and you know—if you’re emailing a customer or client or cold calling, cold emailing, like whatever format, my best advice is always just to speak it out loud. Like ask yourself the question and then respond the answer. ‘Cause you’re probably gonna give a verbal answer that’s a lot more concise and like really kind aligned with what you really wanna say, versus if you just start typing away a computer, your brain works a lot differently when you’re writing versus like speaking.

Faith (16:13):

Yeah. When you’re typing, before you know it, it’s gonna be like six sentences—basically asking how their day is and like apologizing for emailing them.

Cameron (16:21):

And putting in all these little phrases like “in order to” and “as well as”— just things that you can like trim out that you’re not really gonna say.

Faith (16:29):

Yes. Oh my gosh. That was like—I had a professor in college who gave me a list of all the words I wasn’t allowed to say anymore. Like utilize, in order to is one of them…

Cameron (16:40):

I love the word utilize, but I also utilize it in a way that it like makes the most sense.

Faith (16:45):

Right. He said—he was like, Faith, every single time you wanna say utilize, just say use. And I was like, oh.

Cameron (16:52):

For me it’s, if it’s [that] I’m using the word in like a tech related sense, I tend to go for utilize just because I think use is like I’m using an app; if I’m utilizing it, it’s like I’m getting the most out of it. So that’s typically how I like frame a word. But I also tend to use the idea of like—I think it’s like Kevin on the office—or he’s like few word do trick. I’ll start like seeing as many words as I can knock out of like a paragraph that I’ve written and the message get across. Sometimes things repeat. Other times, like I can, you know, remove like, “Oh I want to” and just say what I want to say. Anything like that that cuts down—especially in applications, ‘cause people are gonna read a ton of applications. If you’re putting all this fluff in there, it makes it very difficult for them to get to like the point. And sometimes there’s word limits.

Faith (17:40):

Yeah. And I mean almost every job requires—like especially for your job, we needed somebody who was gonna be an excellent writer in you know, emails, which like you said, real estate on emails is slim. You gotta get right to the point. So that was like the first test, like is this person gonna be really great at at the job? Ok. Last question is, you know, that’s some really great advice for hires who are looking to recruit folks like you. What about people who are listening who are like, wait a minute, that’s kind of where I am right now. I’ve had this—I’ve had some kind of like different job experience. I know I wanna get into maybe like a fast growing tech startup. How do I make myself competitive in that market?

Cameron (18:25):

I think it’s really important to really try and personalize your responses. I mean I know it’s kinda repeating what we just said, but like when you do get that job application, even though you may be thinking, oh I have a like a list of them to get through, you should really kinda take the time to answer each one. Because even sometimes I would apply to jobs, and then a day later I’d be like, Oh I really wanna follow up and add something else. I don’t feel like, you know, my first go around was like, just get the application in as soon as possible, and I don’t really enjoy doing it. But then you have all this time afterwards where you’re sitting and kinda waiting and maybe you’re being a little more analytical and thinking like, oh you know, there was a part of the job description that I didn’t really touch on when I wrote my little paragraph that it allowed me to send, you know, there’s like a 200 character word limit and all I said was “I have direct experience.” Like, I mean just like you’re saying—and it wasn’t personable. ‘Cause I think sometimes we just wanna like do whatever’s the most convenient. We had the easy apply, we give ‘em the little cookie cutter response, and then later we sit and go, okay, now I’ve applied to 10 things. This is the one or two that I want the most. I really wish I would’ve like dove in and given them my best portrayal of myself. And so I think it’s—you should play a numbers game. You should apply to as many things as applicable to you, but you should also kind of give them each their own attention. So if you’re gonna get through more, take more time.

Faith (19:46):

And I would pull through kind of something that you said earlier, which is know what you want. Like get very clear on—like for you, clarity meant like I actually know the role title that I’m looking for—like coordinating is the thing that I excel at. But you know, I always tell people like make a list with three columns. Like things that you absolutely will not do, and then things that you absolutely must do. And then the stuff in between is like stuff you think you could grow into.

Cameron (20:18):

Yeah. And I think it’s also for growing into, you wanna list like, oh I wanna be an account manager next or I wanna be a product manager. Like whatever your kind of like path is. And it’s good to have a lot of different options, not to just narrow down one very specific niche. ‘Cause that’s a problem that I would do to myself when I was in college was I would just fantasize like this job, and then in two years I’d do this, and then I like—and you start to lay out this path. And when you can’t get to step number one, not only have you wasted all of that time and you’ve mentally bought into it, but like it’s just not very efficient. You should’ve been doing other things. You should’ve been you know, kinda playing the field a little bit better and being more open for new opportunities. I think that’s what’s kinda important with playing the numbers game is it’s not that you’re applying to things that aren’t a fit for you, but it’s also like, especially if you’re newer, like you maybe don’t know all of the things that exist out there. And so—

Faith (21:09):

I still dunno all the things that exist <laugh>, I’m like, what is that job?

Cameron (21:12):

Yeah. And that’s also why like, it’s very important. I mean I think a lot of developers see that on our platform. We get some of the most random projects sometimes, and they haven’t done it before. They haven’t built an app that does this thing and this industry, but they’ve done it in another industry. And so being able to communicate how they did that, what about that they liked, and what they didn’t allows the hire to look at that and say like, Oh well you’re not gonna have to worry about that. That’s not something we deal with in this industry. You’re gonna be a fit. Or they go, Oh, you know, the hardest part of the job is like that’s all you’re gonna be doing here. So mutually, I don’t think either one of us wants this relationship, and that’s ok.

Faith (21:50):

Yeah. Yeah, that’s actually like a productive conversation.

Cameron (21:53):

It’s honestly ok when like we have interviews where both sides decide like, okay, this isn’t right for me. It’s good to know that upfront. And usually even sometimes clients will say like, Okay, well we may have something else that’s a better fit for you—and they actually mean it. And you know, especially—it’s wonderful for us when clients do come back, and I have something different, and they go, Oh, this person that didn’t enjoy doing front end and they weren’t a fit for our full stack role, well now we need them for back end, and let’s bring them in. Stuff like that.

Faith (22:20):

Well Cameron, our clients and developers are so lucky that you are the person making sure that everything is seamless for them. So we’re lucky to have you. Thank you for joining. If people wanna find you, how, how can they get in touch?

Cameron (22:36):

Well, I’m [email protected]! I love having like a little first name email.

Faith (22:39):

Oh, it’s so great. One day when we’re like 40,000 employees, you’re gonna be like, I got the OG email <laugh>.

Cameron (22:48):

Yep. That and Slack too. I feel like that was one thing that was kind of surprising when I first joined was just developers who just start Slacking me the most random questions.

Faith (22:55):

<Laugh>. Yeah. If you’re an approved developer on Gun.io, we have a really close Slack community called Cantina. So all of our internal staff is in there. So if you’ve got questions about how your interview went, Cameron is there. And the rest of us as well. So. Cool. Well thank you, Cameron. Until next time.

Cameron (23:16):

Thank you.

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