Earlier this year, Ellen Stein showed us how it is never too late, as she earned her “second-act” career in technology – alongside a younger workforce – where she has had the opportunity to collaborate, learn new technical skills, and teach others as well.
Monica is proving that it’s also never too early.
At 28, Monica Giragosian is stepping into her second-act, a career as a Salesforce Developer on our Professional Services team, leaving behind the equally challenging and results-oriented world of professional ballet. Hours of practice perfecting the smallest adjustments- softer hands, lighter feet- have been replaced with meticulously crafting apex code and choreographing technical solutions for business teams.
Like so many non-traditional career professionals, Monica is leaning into her strengths – her passion for creating, her meticulous attention to detail, and her love of learning – to drive forward as she pirouettes into the computer science space.
Dancing the lead role as the Sugar Plum Fairy in a production of “The Nutcracker” is a dream shared by many young ballerinas, especially those finding themselves selected at prestigious schools who have spent hours shaping their body to produce those signature classic lines. It is also a dream often unrealized.
For Monica, the opportunity to realize this dream came early – as a student at Maryland Youth Ballet in Silver Spring, Maryland. But reaching that goal early did not stop her from setting even higher goals. Thousands of hours at the studio. Hundreds of miles bussing to auditions, often as just a number in the crowd. Her success bought with discipline, stamina, and focus – she joined the BalletMet Columbus as a trainee. After two intense years, she was offered a company position with American Reperatory Ballet, where within a year she landed her dream role in a professional performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Douglas Martin’s “The Nutcracker”.
“The first time I landed the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, everyone told me how I was going to cry so much when the curtain dropped. I’d seen it before, how sad ballerinas were to have that dream performance over. But I didn’t cry the first time, because I knew, I was determined that I was going to dance it again, professionally.”
View Monica’s full dancer biography here.
All the while, a harsh deadline looming – retirement. Ballet takes a hard toll on the body, and the average age of retirement for ballerinas is about 35, according to dance.net. While many ballerinas continue on with dance behind the scenes as choreographers, teachers and producers, a different path was unfurling for Monica, who was interested in a new challenge. Betting on her ability to tackle anything in her path she set her sights on a non-traditional new path: a career in technology.
While dancing full-time with the American Repertory Ballet in Princeton, NJ Monica attended Mercer County Community college part-time. Between her performances of “Pride and Prejudice”, “Scarlet Sonata”, “Tears of the Moon”, “Rite of Spring” and more she also studied, coded, and ultimately graduated with her Associates in Computer Science.
Why computer science?
Monica says, “Because people thought I couldn’t.”
Going on to a rigorous CS program at Rutgers, her discipline easily transferred. Jeté switched feet to land on Java Script. Entrechat interchanged with object orientation. Discipline. Work. Focus.
Then, it was time to give her skills an audience. Monica was recruited into a development internship here at Internet Creations, where she took her core skills and learned how to apply them to the world of Salesforce. The art of apex with its limits and possibilities. Styling VisualForce pages. As the problems that need to be solved become more and more complex, Monica’s training to never forget the importance of basic technique and best practices, help her always approach problems as a student.
Now a member of our Professional Services Development Team, Monica and her fellow teammates are not only tasked with producing efficient and deployable code, they also engage with our clients directly, clarify requirements, and make sure that the end solution delivers on what was promised.
“One thing that I’ve been able to bring over from my previous career as a professional ballerina to my new career as a Salesforce Developer would definitely be detail orientation and also the ability to quickly incorporate feedback and apply that immediately. During all my work on cases a lot of the time you have a customer that wants something fixed in the next hour… you have to be able to not only understand what that feedback is asking for but be able to incorporate that [into the work].”
As one of the newer developers on the team, Monica’s skills of taking feedback and making quick adjustments has allowed her to learn fast and be someone who can be counted on to listen for the details that matter.
And when the day is done, the code is deployed and the laptop is closed, there is still dance.
Monica uses our flex time in perhaps *literally* the most flexible of ways working a few days a week as a teacher/choreographer at Verne Fowler School of Dance in Colonia, NJ.
The ability to set her own in-office hours, work remote, and leave early to make it to a 5pm class isn’t a kind accommodation from an easy-going manager, it’s part of IC’s intentional culture of making space for the real life things that matter while still making quality personal and delivering on high expectations. Flexibility and Balance.
Most people don’t realize that the Sugar Plum Fairy, while being arguably the most known figure from The Nutcracker, does not come on stage and perform her signature, dream-inspiring dance until the closing minutes of the performance. If you’ve seen it, you know the magic of the tinkling celesta accompanied by the way the choreography builds from delicate angularity the more virtouso and dizzying pirouettes finale. The metaphor for Monica’s powerful second-act requires no additional staging.
At its core, development is about perfection and art. The meticulous hours of fine-tuning, practice, review, feedback, and adjustment for the purpose of creating. Pushing the boundaries of limits, real and perceived, and delivering on the art of what is possible. We are proud to have her on our team and look forward to watching her reach new, more figurative heights.
Looking to build a career with Salesforce? Check out Trailhead for excellent resources like, Building Your Career in the Salesforce EcoSystem and Career Development Planning. Already on your way? Head over to our Careers Page to audition for your next great role.