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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Changing Jobs

This TikTok Employee Went After a New Role at the Company—and Got It

Erica Carswell, a community engagement specialist at TikTok
Erica Carswell, a community engagement specialist at TikTok.
| Courtesy of Erica Carswell

TikTok may be a household name with thousands of employees, but the company is still relatively young—which is one of the main reasons Erica Carswell was excited about joining. “The startup feeling really resonated with me,” she says. “I love being able to think creatively and work with a team that is just as passionate.”

Carswell initially joined TikTok as a senior account manager on the small to mid-sized business (SMB) account management team, but less than a year into her tenure, she discovered a role that excited her even more.

“One day I was having a coffee chat with my human resources business partner (HRBP), and I described what the perfect role would be for me in the future,” she recalls. “As soon as I described it, she mentioned there was a new team forming, and they would need someone for that exact role. This literally would be my dream job and passion wrapped into one. My eyes lit up with excitement, and I immediately jumped into learning more about the internal transition process. The entire time I felt the support of my team lead, HRBP, and both recruiters that guided me along the way.”

Today, Carswell is a community engagement specialist, responsible for planning and executing events with SMB agencies and partners who are interested in scaling theirs or their clients’ business on TikTok.

Tell us about your career journey. What inspired you to pivot from real estate to working for tech companies, specifically partnering with SMBs?

My passion has always centered around connecting people to purpose. My career journey began in multi-family real estate, where I was able to help potential residents find their new homes. From there, I created new ways to maintain retention by planning fun events and activities to build a sense of community for residents. My transition was inspired by being introduced to a contract role at a tech company that allowed me to plan and execute events at multiple communities every week in order to increase sales.

While doing this, I partnered with many SMBs around Atlanta in order to provide food and entertainment at these events. This instantly became my passion! It felt like I was bringing together a community again. After my contract ended during the pandemic, I came across a similar role that allowed me to continue working with SMBs. This time I was able to help them scale their growth on a social media platform. This is where I learned the fundamentals of how beneficial it is for SMBs to prioritize being present on social media.

Given your prior experience, how did you find your way to TikTok?

I had the pleasure of receiving a message in my LinkedIn inbox from a TikTok recruiter. I was curious to learn more, so I responded and we set up a call. During the call, I was able to gain a better understanding about the company, their values, and their plan to start an SMB team right here in my hometown. Having experience in this particular field, I was very excited to learn more and go through the interview process. After receiving an offer, I made the decision to accept, and begin as a senior account manager on the SMB team. This was just the beginning of something that felt great in my heart.

You switched positions at TikTok within a year of joining the company. What was the recruiting and interview process like once you decided to make this internal move?

The process was fast and efficient—things move quickly at TikTok! My recruiter was friendly and informative, and made me feel comfortable during the entire process. Each interview was with a different teammate or leader, and everyone was open and clear on what the expectations for the role and the team were. What really sold me was when I spoke with my potential manager, we connected instantly. The conversation felt fluid and familiar. I was able to discuss past projects that I was proud of, as well as learn about what type of skills I could potentially gain by working on this new team. My potential manager then sent me a thank you note for taking the time to interview with him. That really warmed my heart and made me feel like I was already a part of the team. I love that TikTok encourages us to define our own role based on our strengths and experience.

It can be challenging for a company to have a strong and inclusive company culture in a hybrid work environment. How does TikTok succeed in doing just that?

TikTok prioritizes progressive training for our leaders, and encourages them to provide their direct reports with the support they need to feel seen and heard. In fact, “championing diversity and inclusion” is one of our core company values and there are many opportunities for all employees to get involved. For example, we have multiple employee resource groups (ERG), including BLXCK, which I’m a member of. Our mission is to empower Black talent and promote allyship within our company and on our platform. So far I have attended many of our virtual meetings and have been able to listen and learn from guest speakers, authors, mentors, and more. Recently a few of us met in Austin to attend the AfroTech conference to support our early careers team. It was an incredible experience to meet and connect with so many other people that looked like me from around the world. The differences we bring to the table at TikTok are not only welcomed, but celebrated.

Beyond training opportunities and ERGs mentioned above, how else does TikTok help create and maintain its company culture?

Our SMB team has a culture committee that I currently lead for the Atlanta team members. Together we celebrate and learn more about different cultures during Latinx Heritage Month, Black History Month, etc. We also are looking forward to doing more volunteer work together as a team to serve the communities that so many members of the TikTok family are connected to.

What is your favorite employee perk or benefit, and how have you taken advantage of it?

My favorite employee perk is our wellness reimbursement. This has allowed me to discover my love for rowing, which is a low-impact full body workout. Last fall, I signed up for weekly row classes that have noticeably transformed my mind, body, and attitude towards fitness.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work?

I really love traveling and experiencing new foods and cultures. Visiting museums, theaters, and painting are also fun hobbies of mine. So far my favorite place that I’ve traveled to is Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, and my favorite museum that I’ve visited was the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada.

What book, show, or podcast from the last year had the biggest impact on you and why?

This Is Us is a show I continue to bring up to family, friends, and anyone who will listen. It tastefully tackled so many different, relatable topics. The entire show was centered around family and love, yet it also dove deep into life lessons, tough decisions, and loss. I also loved learning how to approach challenging situations from this show based on the outcomes and lessons that were shared. Looking back, This Is Us has helped me approach life with a different perspective, a bit more patience and understanding.