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Launching a Successful Career without a Degree, Direction, or Experience

Troy Martinez
Marketing Strategy Lead
Phoenix, AZ
Pronouns: He/Him

Pillow forts and the digital world

Growing up, I loved to build things— blocks, plastic bricks, pillow forts. I’d spend hours building and imagining new things to play with. While I still love building things, as I got older I realized my love for technology and the digital world. For that reason, I sought a position on the digital servicing team at Discover, where I’ve been for 4 years.

Without a direction, degree or experience

I originally joined Discover in 2013, not thinking I’d stay very long. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I worked in many customer care positions before working on a complaints team. Through hard work and high performance, I was eventually fortunate enough to get a position on the digital servicing team.

I’ve done all of this without really having a direction, without a 4-year degree, and in many cases, without any experience in the jobs I was transitioning into. I’m a very introverted person, and it’s hard for me to talk about my accomplishments or feel confident in the things I do, but the career I’ve created is undeniable proof. I’m doing the right thing, and I’m worthy of what I have today.

Shaping social media and messaging

I’ve stayed because I get to work on new technology that enhances our customer experience. Every day I get to influence and shape how we respond on our messaging and social media channels. I also get to work on automation by shaping and creating how our Discover virtual assistant helps, and responds to, our customers. One of my proudest accomplishments in my life (other than building a wonderful family with my wife) is my career.

Self-advocating as a Latino professional

One of the biggest learning moments I’ve had is that just being good at your job doesn’t mean you’ll be recognized for it. Being Latino, one of the core things I was taught growing up was that if you work hard and do great work, you’ll be rewarded. I was taught to be modest and that I shouldn’t brag or tell people how good I am. To do a good job, in silence. I had to learn, for the first time, how to self-advocate. Not in an arrogant way, but in a confident way. For me, it’s still uncomfortable sometimes, but I’ve learned that my accomplishments are worth being proud of and its okay to confidently talk about the work I do.

Why authenticity actually matters

The one piece of advice I live by, is just be authentically myself in every situation. Bringing my personality, experiences, and opinions to the table in my job, with family and friends, and in every aspect of my personal life has allowed me to make strong connections with people. My ability to be real and human, is why I’ve had success here. One of my core strengths is building great relationships. When working on new initiatives, my relationships makes those tasks easier to accomplish. My partners know how I operate, and I’ve taken the time to understand what’s important to them.

Evolving family traditions

One of my favorite traditions growing up was having family dinner on the weekends and for special events during holidays. Specifically, my family used to make tamales about a week or so before Christmas. My birthday is December 22nd, so it felt nice to have my family around during that time. We’d make great food, laugh, and catch up on everyone’s lives. While things have changed as I’ve grown older, I’ve adapted those occasions to include friends as well. My friends and I partake in at least 1-2 game nights a month where we play our favorite board games or card games and make or get the food we all love. It makes me feel the same feelings I did when I was younger and it makes me appreciate the times we have now even more.


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