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Farm to Majors: Developing the Next Generation of Talent

At Sovrn, learning is a fundamental part of everything we do. In fact, it’s one of our company’s core values — and is the foundation of our Farm to Majors career development program.

As shared in a previous blog post, Farm to Majors allows employees to work on real-life projects outside their normal area of responsibility so they can explore new career directions and expand their skill sets. Senior staff members serve as mentors to the program’s participants, which gives them an opportunity to shape the next generation of talent while refining their own expertise in the process.

This unique program offers a wealth of benefits for everyone involved — and for the company as a whole. To better understand its impact, we’ve compiled a few insights from the people who know Farm to Majors best — including graduates, mentors, and the program’s founder. 

How it started

When Chris Prokopiak joined Sovrn as a software engineer in 2018, he discovered the outlines of a program that would help technical support reps develop the skills to move into engineering roles. The foundation was there — all it needed was someone with the vision and dedication to bring the program to life. 

“I was intrigued by the idea of creating a pipeline of technical talent within the company, so I really wanted to make the concept a reality,” said Chris. “As we worked through the initial phases of the program, we found a lot of support throughout the organization. From the top down, people recognized this as an opportunity to create new career paths and improve diversity within the engineering org.”

Since then, more than a dozen participants have successfully completed the Farm to Majors program. 

A measurable impact

Farm to Majors has had a tremendous impact in just a few short years. When asked about their experience, both program participants and mentors eagerly shared their insights.

Jarod Means joined Sovrn in 2021 as a software engineer. When the opportunity arose to serve as a mentor in the Farm to Majors program, he jumped at the chance. “I love to teach, and this was an exciting way to apply that passion in my career,” he said. “Most of the program participants have a good background in writing code, but being a successful engineer is so much more than that. As a mentor, I can help mentees think through technical problems and learn new skills like testing and troubleshooting. And teaching helps me sharpen my own skills, too, because it makes me think about things in different ways.”   

For Brandon Oney, the Farm to Majors program was an opportunity to explore career options outside his area of expertise. He joined Sovrn as an IT engineer, but his real interest was in product development. Through Farm to Majors, he was able to “try on” several different product-focused roles and lead a product development project from start to finish, which led to a new role as a product manager. “My favorite part of the program was being exposed to so many diverse perspectives,” said Brandon. “It gave me the chance to see many different ways of being effective in a product role, so I got a more holistic view of what success looks like.”

Roxanne Baldwin has a unique perspective on Farm to Majors, having been both a participant and a mentor in the program. She joined Sovrn in 2018 in a support role, but her goal was to move into software engineering. The Farm to Majors program provided a unique way to learn new skills without leaving her current job. After completing a year-long engineering project and graduating from Farm to Majors, Roxanne took a new role as a software engineer — and then decided to “pay it forward” as a mentor. 

“For me, participating in Farm to Majors was really empowering. It helped me overcome that ‘imposter syndrome’ and prove that I have the skills to succeed as an engineer,” Roxanne said. “And as a mentor, it’s just so gratifying to help grow the next generation of talent. So far, I’ve mentored three people through the program and into software engineering roles.” 

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