Future of Work | Product & Project Management
Trending on Social Media: Meet Ali Čargonja
Ali Čargonja started her career as an events assistant at a country club and expanded into a communications role where she brushed up her chops on food writing and wine promotion. Displaying her passion for cooking and eating, she landed her first consulting role at Toast as a social media manager. During her down time, you’ll likely find her cozying up to a new book or ideating new baking recipes with her husband.
What are you currently working on?
Ali's Keys to Success
- Building broad communications expertise
- Showcasing social media savviness via personal interest profile
- Translating passion into new consulting career
I work on the organic social media team for Toast and manage our editorial calendar and presence on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook as our channels of communication. Our content is focused on brand awareness at the top of the funnel.
What path did you take to become a consultant?
I started as an events assistant at a country club, then I convinced them that social media is valuable and could serve the community well. The biggest challenge was bridging the demographic gap between the old-guard country club families versus the new, younger families moving into the area. We needed to speak in the appropriate language to meet every mark – not being too trendy or out of touch.
As I grew the social media presence, I expanded into a communications role and managed the website, email, and a bimonthly 30-page newsletter. I helped embellish the wine program and did food writing. I had stacked up many hats but was getting to the point where I couldn’t sustain the volume of work at high quality. Then, my husband and I decided to move out of the Bay Area while he was looking for a transition in his career. So the shift to a remote job was ideal.
It’s been fun for me to be able to pull the country club experience and my love for cooking, eating, and entertaining into my current job. My passion was a big selling point for my work with Toast.
What do you love about consulting?
I thrive in the work-from-home environment. It really caters to my creative head space. I can sit in my favorite cozy chair or carry my laptop all over the house and work wherever is convenient. Consulting gives me flexibility during the day. My husband is a baker, so we have a very early shift schedule that works well for me to be available during East Coast hours with the rest of my team. But if I want to dig into something and have the energy to do it, I will stay logged in for as long as it takes to get it done.
What has been your biggest challenge about being a consultant? How have you addressed it?
Working for a small business then moving into a corporate environment has been a huge transition – just speaking the language and doing everything via Zoom. The hardest thing is being off on my own little island. My department is a small subset of a bigger team. There are marketing stand-ups or all-hands meetings that don't apply to me, so it's that liminal space of being part of a team but not really. I try to stay in touch with the team that initially interviewed me. I started a book club once every month or so with them, and I’ve made more personal connections where I can.
What are the things you like to do when the work slows down?
I do a lot of reading. I read 135 books last year! I help my husband ideate what he's going to create at the bakery and do a lot of cooking. I love board game and movie nights with our friends, where we can just put out a good meal and hang out for the evening.
How do you market yourself?
For this social media role at Toast, I took a chance by offering the link to my personal Instagram, which is a book community. I felt it was a better representation of how I speak, how I write, and my commitment to being consistent and aesthetic. Everyone who interviewed me thought it was cool. So it was nice to pull in something that I feel personally connected to that spoke to my experience better than anything my work background could offer.
What tips would you give to new consultants?
Just give it a shot. I was nervous to make the jump because I was worried about having to build contracts and sell myself. I'd much rather let my work speak for me. EM made it easy for me to step into a full-time contract role and gave me structure to figure out my own benefits, especially during such a transitional time in my life.
Also, don't be afraid to ask a ton of questions when you’re in a new position. Put yourself out there. In the first few weeks at Toast, I had one-on-one meetings with people that weren't directly affiliated with the work that I do. It established rapport and helped me later on.