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SHEs in STEM: Melissa Karlin

Our first guest in our SHEs in STEM series is Melissa Karlin is a recent transplant to Nashville from Chicago where she spent the majority of her tech “life” working on Enterprise level marketing and ad-tech solutions. Prior to working in technology, she worked for the boutique arm of a large media agency and managed the Marketing department of her family’s private label grocery business. Melissa chose to move to Nashville in order to continue to grow in the Product Management space where she’s looking forward to mentoring and becoming a thought leader in Nashville. She lives in East Nashville with her adorable, yet extremely neurotic Boston Terrier, Beatrice Arthur and is looking forward to camping and enjoying everything that Tennessee has to offer.

Melissa Karlin (SHEs in STEM)

Name: Melissa Karlin
Company: Currently in between Product Management roles
Industry: Primarily Marketing/Ad-Tech
Age: 38
SHEroines: Sallie Krawcheck, Allison Esposito, Cathy Zhang

Tell us about yourself: who are you, where are you from, what do you do?
My name is Melissa Karlin, and I’m new to Nashville (moved in November 2017) from Chicago. I’m a product manager, and I’m currently between roles.

What was your path to becoming a SHE in STEM? Which area of STEM are you a part of?
My path to STEM is a very winding road. I began my career in Hospitality where I worked in event planning. I knew that wasn’t a good fit long term, so I went back for a graduate certificate in Integrated Marketing from University of Chicago. From there I worked for my family’s business running all Marketing efforts when I received the opportunity to join the boutique arm of a large media agency on the paid search team. I’d been passionate about tech and startups for several years but it was during my agency time that I enrolled in The Starter League in their HTML/CSS track. I knew I wanted to know more about the websites I was looking at everyday. From the agency I made the transition to the technology side, working at search marketing platform on the account side. I’ve held several roles in account management and my most recent role was that of managing all vendor integrations and partnerships for an identity management platform.

What about being a SHE in STEM brings you the most joy?
Working with all the varied personality types; I find it challenging and stimulating.

What is the most challenging part of being a SHE in STEM?

Being taken seriously.

What’s the professional achievement that makes you the most proud?
I’d like to think I still haven’t had my most proud achievement yet.

What and who has motivated you the most in your journey as a SHE in STEM?

The ability to change and grow.

It’s rare that you’re able to change your mind at what you’d like to be doing with your life and then have the resources to make that happen. I like that I don’t have a 5 or 10 year plan, because I’m never sure where the path might lead. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to have mainly women bosses; they’ve been a source of inspiration and guidance that I’m not sure I would have received from a male superior.

If you could go back in time and offer yourself sixty seconds of advice, what would you say?
Learn a programming language. Yes, even if you think you’re “bad at math” or any of the other stereotypes. It will prove immensely valuable.

If you could give any advice to young women considering a path in STEM, what would you say?
Find a mentor, find other women who have been where you have been and make sure to reach out and keep those connections strong. Also, don’t try to be like “one of the guys”.

Part of what makes your input invaluable is the fact that you are a woman.

You see things through a different lens, and that’s a good thing.

Who are some other SHEs in STEM to watch?
Sallie Krawcheck is doing amazing things with Ellevest; Allison Esposito from Tech Ladies; Cathy Zhang.

What’s the most exciting thing happening in STEM right now?
The birth of places like Codeverse; fully interactive schools that teach kids to code

What are some resources for SHEs to learn more about your field?
I love Cathy Zhang’s resource, it’s a great place to start on your journey to Product Management.

ICYMI: Check out our other SHEs in STEM posts-Rachel StuveKolisa Yola Sinyanya, Kara LutonStephanie ProvenceSamantha Hau, Kira Bailey, I Don’t Know How To Science, Taylor Breland, and Kelsey Caffy. And don’t miss out on SHEspeaks: Rainu Ittycheriah with Eventbrite (ep 5).

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