ALUMNI INTERVIEW: I Was a History Major, Now I am Senior Manager of Enterprise Support

Meet John Vatalaro ’13, Sr. Manager of Enterprise Support at Yext.

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

I oversee the technical support and training provided to some of Yext’s largest and most strategic enterprise customers and their franchisees.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

I found Yext through a one of my Holy Cross roommate’s cousins.  A little networking over drinks got me connected with her friend who worked at Yext.  After a few emails, I was on site for an interview and it was a perfect match right away.  It was the summer after graduation and I had only recently been exploring a possible career in tech, mostly focused around customer service, and this role was a really great fit at a small and exciting company.  Joining a ~200 person venture-funded start-up in NYC was certainly not what I was expecting after graduation, but I just couldn’t turn away from the people, the perks, the company’s mission, and the product.  After joining, I quickly realized it was a place I could learn, grow, and excel quickly with incredibly talented people (including some other HC alumni!) so it was a great environment for me.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

Outside of classes, Men’s Varsity Swimming and my part-time job as a Kimball Captain took up most of my time but I was also involved in Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Varsity Club, HC Goes Unified, College Advisory Board on Alcohol, House Council, and Inter-House Council.

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I majored in history and minored in art history.  They originally drove me to want to pursue a career in the arts, but later I realized my love of history and art history was more just a passion for learning, understanding people, and recognizing patterns, regardless of the subject matter.  This allowed me to move into tech, where I had the opportunity to apply those skills to become a product and process expert.  As a result, I put myself in a spot to share that knowledge and empower others, whether customers or teammates, to succeed.  Since then, I’ve leaned heavily on my liberal arts education to help me understand varied aspects of our business simply because I understand how to analyze a situation, think through problems, and see the big picture.

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

How to work with others: Being on the swim team, working in the dining hall, living with new friends, and collaborating on schoolwork with others provided me plenty of opportunities to develop the invaluable social and communication skills that helped mold me into the person I am today. You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t get along with others or speak up about your opinion you won’t get very far.

How to give a damn: Really dive into something you care about.  This will help you apply that same passion and drive towards your job/career.  In school,  maybe it’s a passion for competition, learning, helping others, solving problems, or being funny – whatever it is, find it!  When hiring for my teams, I’m always looking for someone who gives a damn about their work or their passions over someone who appears qualified on paper.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Take the classes and do the activities that you actually get enjoyment out of.  If there’s anything I’ve learned in school or in my career, it’s that you do your best work when you’re challenged by something you enjoy.  So find that class, find that extracurricular, and find a job that brings your joy.  The grades, success, the “right job”, and even money will fall into place if you focus on that.

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