Amateur Athlete to Community in Tech—an Unlikely Transition

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As I sit staring at my screen trying to figure out how I got to HootSuite, I realize there’s a few moving parts. As a full time amateur athlete competing for Canada all over the world playing Field Hockey, I never saw myself punching the clock sitting at a desk all day. Boy did my life change.

Things change when I realized that I needed to plan for a life after sport. Many athletes dedicate so much energy to mastering their craft, they fail to prepare themselves for when they ultimately retire and reality sets in.

Somehow, I figured this out to the point where I got serious anxiety.  How am I going to make a living? I routinely pondered this, and looking back, these thoughts (eventually) kicked my ass into gear.

Where to go when you’re identity is shaped by one thing?

Writing and communicating gleaned my interest, but the traditional research papers I laboured through in high school and university were a deterrent if anything to writing.

Social media somewhat caught my interest, but not much more than Facebook and Twitter. Still , I knew there was something there: perhaps a career as an online marketer? Those guys in Mad Men look like there having fun don’t they?

Being a Psychology and Economics major in University, one thing I found out is that I like to help people. My 4th year I researched behavioural economics like it was my job. Cognitive processes, motivations, and decision making are pretty interesting from a neuroscience perspective when you strip it down. I still geek out on this stuff to this day.

So I had a useless arts degree and an interest in writing, communications, and helping people — great! Sounds like every other confused millennial.

Small victories

The single best thing I did on my road to community manager dude was start a personal blog. Capturing my journey of hunting for a job in marketing or whatever else I could find seemed like a good idea at the time. It was indeed.

I experimented writing about everything from LinkedIn 101 articles to my embarrassing interviews with teenage record labels, and feeble attempts at going to networking events. The latter still terrifies me by the way.

What this did do was allow for medium to develop my writing chops and express myself in ways most people do by talking. I’m quiet around people I don’t know well, so the thought of even publishing a blog was terrifying — it still is.

Connor Meakin - Community Manager Journey

What the hell is HootSuite?

I heard of a small local tech company called HootSuite and thought it would be cool to work their one day. You know how all those self-help gurus tell you to set lofty goals? This was mine.

My fortunes changed one faithful night when I attended an event in which my mentor Dave Olson was speaking at. It was a C-list Meetup in all respects. Located in a daytime hair salon turned speaking venue, the attendees were largely elderly who had no preexisting knowledge of internet, tech, or social.

My tardiness exacerbated by my sweaty and stinky state due to rushing there directly from practice. I stumbled in right as the host introduced him, and was immediately put on the spot. The host asked what my deal was: I told him my name, that I was a student, and that I wanted to work at HootSuite.

What followed was a coffee meeting which I found out upon arrival was at HootSuite’s office and was more of a job interview than anything else.

I had no resume, no cover letter. I did have the sorry excuse for a blog sitting there. I later found that my blog was the reason DaveO took a chance on me.

DaveO offered me an internship while I was still in school full time—I took it, somehow made it work, and got hired on full time thereafter.

Never did I think I’d be working for a dream company like HootSuite, I still pinch myself on occasion and realize how fortunate I am to be where I’m at.

#Cliffs: Good timing, embarrassing stories, luck, gratitude.

Connor Meakin

Community Manager of North America at HootSuite
Connor Meakin is HootSuite's Community Manager of North America. By day, he manages HootSuite’s community building efforts in North America through the brand ambassador program, events, and regularly sharing stories on the HootSuite Blog. By night and in the wee hours of the morning, you'll find him playing and following just about every sport, high fiving strangers while running, and drinking too much coffee.

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