Joining Stride Learning

Yesterday, I wrote about leaving Adaptavist. Today, I’m excited to write about joining Stride.

I got both my job at Adaptavist and my job at Stride through LinkedIn. For the former, a recruiter found me and reached out, and for the latter, I applied. What’s interesting about my applying to Stride is that I didn’t know I was.

They have a job board, but I didn’t find that. Rather, one night my guild leader on Guild Wars 2 was talking about his new job in edtech, and I thought, “Hey, I have backgrounds in both education and technology… why have I never looked for a job in edtech?” So I went to LinkedIn and searched for “edtech.” Then, I filtered for Easy Apply and remote, read a few job adverts that looked interesting, and clicked the button for one of them.

A week or so later, a recruiter called me and asked about my application. She said it was for Stride, which I had never heard of and wasn’t listed in the advert. I think this is interesting: as near as I can tell, she’s a contracted recruiter for Stride, and she takes the adverts from their job board, then posts them to LinkedIn with Easy Apply enabled. She reads through all of a candidate’s information (in my case, it’s not just my jobs but also my projects, volunteering, etc.), and then refers the best candidates to the hiring manager.

In retrospect, I am both incredibly grateful and incredibly horrified by this. I am so excited to join Stride, and the realization that I would have missed out on this job if not for the recruiter and her using Easy Apply is nearly heartbreaking.

My title is Director Product Management Career Platform. I don’t know if this is an abbreviated title or if they just don’t like prepositions, so I’ll probably list it slightly differently on LinkedIn. In one sense, this is a lateral move; my internal role description at Adaptavist was Lead Product Manager, and I was 4 levels below the CEO (CEO -> Head of Products -> Head of Product Management -> me as Head of Education). I haven’t figured out the org chart at Stride yet, but I think I’m also 4 levels down (though the titles are all different), and I’ll be directing the work of developers.

But this job is much more focused on vision and strategy development and aligning the roadmap to that, which is what I’ve been wanting to push more into over the last couple of years. The team is also much larger with multiple teams of developers, a team of UX people, a team of BAs, at least one PO… and the vision for the platform is brilliant. It’s very similar to what I had envisioned for Adaptavist Learn, but more in every way, and far better resourced. Stride has the depth of experience and vendor relationships to be a hundred times more successful at achieving this vision than I could have been at Adaptavist.

Stride’s mission is to help learners of all ages reach their full potential through inspired teaching and personalized learning. We do this by providing clear pathways for learners to expand their skills, explore their options, and change their lives.

Stride’s mission is a big part of why I want to join them. It’s not only clear and well-articulated, but it also aligns with my personal mission and values.

I believe that the best way we can make our society better is through generational change, and that means investing in education and supporting kids. Combining this job with my volunteer work at the Boys & Girls Club satisfies my soul. At Adaptavist, I could rationalize that my work might help some people have a better work-life balance, which I value, but the majority of our effort was to help companies make more money. Even though Stride is a for-profit company, the people I spoke with during the interview process felt strongly about Stride’s mission and the company seems to walk the walk.

There were some strong reasons to leave Adaptavist, but I think it’s even more important to have something to go towards; if we’re only motivated by what we’re leaving, we won’t be happy with where we go. I wouldn’t have left Adaptavist unless I had somewhere great to go. Here’s what motivated me to join Stride:

  1. The opportunity to do the kind of work I had been wanting to do for years, but which I was excluded from at Adaptavist due to my geographic location.
  2. A mission that excites and propels me and that aligns with my personal values.
  3. Feeling valued and invested in.

About 4 years ago, I asked my line manager at the time where he saw my career going; what should I be learning about or growing in? He replied that he had never thought about it, and I asked him to do so. About 6 months later, I followed up and got effectively the same reply: “I haven’t thought about it.”

In 4 years, I haven’t been given any direction. My growth has been self-directed and independent; I haven’t had a mentor for vision and strategy development. And I’ve been looking for people smarter and more experienced than me for a long time.

I have also communicated several times over the last year and a half that I didn’t feel valued, and that I really needed some sort of feedback on my job performance and what my teams were delivering. Despite direct requests for that, I never got a word, sentence, email, or anything. My boss and boss’s boss never even said, “I value you,” or, “You’re doing a great job,” or, “You’re not doing a great job.” Just nothing.

In one of my interviews for Stride, I met with an SVP who asked me where I wanted to be in 5, 10, and 20 years, and she communicated that she and Stride would invest in teaching me, helping me grow, and helping me get there. In an interview.

And she has significantly more and different experiences than I have. There are multiple people I met who I can learn from and I’m stoked.

So it’s not just about what I’m leaving. I’m going in a direction that makes me really happy. I have started reviewing some of the work ahead of me and it’s a lot, but the slight anxiety that causes also makes me grin. I want to be stretched. I want to be challenged. I want to master something new. I want to level up and become better, and I think I can help people on my new team do the same.

Yesterday’s blog post had a music video and I don’t feel like I have a brilliant conclusion today, so here’s a video that kind of fits. This whole album is great, but there are two lines in particular that I’ve thought a lot about the last couple of years…

Should I go for more clicks this year
Or should I follow the click in my ear?

I have been wanting to follow the click in my ear. I think joining Stride is doing just that, and it’s a relief to finally be in sync with that click.

One thought on “Joining Stride Learning

  1. Should I go for more clicks this year
    Or should I follow the click in my ear?
    I love this!!! YES, go with the click in your ear!!
    One day, Matthew, I will meet you (I live down the street on Kickapoo). I am excited to do so because of what I may learn from you!! Most of my favorite things involved knowing or having the chance to talk with individuals you are smarter than me!!! I love learning and growing!!!
    In the meantime, I look forward to your next blog and to hearing about your growth and development at Stride. What a great name for a company!!! Stride….
    All the Best!!
    Brenda

    Like

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