Knack: A Career Conversation with Maggie McGinty

What motivated you to join this company?
I had the pleasure of meeting our CEO, Samyr Qureshi and our VP of Partnerships, Austin Doyle while I was working at Auburn University. I met Samyr and Austin in Auburn’s beginning conversations around designing a tutoring program with Knack. I was blown away by Knack’s approach to peer-tutoring and was really excited by its student-centered methods to support Auburn students. After seeing the impact Knack had with Auburn and multiple other higher education institutions on retention & graduation rates as well as student development, I was quite intrigued and motivated to find a way to join this company.

Since working with Knack my motivation has only grown. We are a very mission and impact-driven company. Knack is a company full of individuals who are passionate about student success and equity in education. I genuinely look forward to work everyday because of the people I work with and the students we work to serve.

How does your company convey to employees a sense of belonging?
Knack as a company has conveyed to all employees that every employee is valued as a key-team member, contributor and leader in Knack’s operation through various efforts. A great way Knack has conveyed this sense of belonging is continuously encouraging an open-door mindset/policy for everyone within the company; no ideas or conversations are off-limits, and all questions and brainstorming are incredibly welcomed.

In what ways does your company support professional development and growth?
Coming from a background in counseling and education, I personally had a lot of room to grow in navigating professional development and establishing personal/professional confidence in the “business” world. Knack has empowered my professional development through accepting my background, interests and strengths and pouring into them. Various conference & networking opportunities, webinars, and educational/training resources are consistently made available to me as a Knack employee. Additionally, I am consistently challenged by our team leaders to think of how I would like to grow professionally and how Knack can support getting me there.

In what ways does your company allow you to support a healthy work-life balance?
Knack decided to become a fully remote company indefinitely with the onset of the pandemic. Making the decision to become a fully remote company is a big decision, however Knack has been incredibly thoughtful in all of its operating procedures to ensure that the remote environment fosters maximum productivity with maximum balance. I find great satisfaction in that my time is truly respected at Knack, we as employees are given the space to decide what kind of balance will best serve our needs and work-styles. We also have unlimited PTO days and are encouraged to take time off throughout the year to promote self-care and overall well-being. All in all, having a life outside of work is encouraged; for me, this really introduced me to what an actually-balanced-work-life balance looks and feels like and I am very grateful.

How do you know that you’re making an impact with the work you do?
Knack transforms tutoring in a way that reaches, engages, and retains more students and it is proven and guided with immense data collection and research on our part. It’s no question that tutoring can make a difference for students, but when I am able to see the data and the response across a campus that is specifically related to Knack’s peer-tutoring model, I feel as though I am making an impact on students' learning and overall higher-education experience.

What makes you proud to represent your company?
There are many reasons why I am proud to represent Knack; I am proud to work alongside each of my co-workers (also known as the “Knack Pack”), to work for the students and campuses we serve, and I am also proud to carry out Knack's mission and commitment to deliver equity and access to academic support every day in my work.  

In what ways do you feel like you’ve grown since working for your company?
Without a doubt, Knack has challenged me to consistently think about equitable solutions to obstacles in education. I would say my passion and efforts for student advocacy has grown significantly because of this.  

What do you wish you had known about the professional world while you were a student?
I wish I knew that your major does not define you and later on your profession does not have to define you either. When I first entered the professional world, I deeply tied my personal identity to my professional identity. This wasn’t the worst thing in the world to do, but this mindset put me on a fast-track to burn out, disappointment and a slight pre-quarter life crisis because I didn’t understand who I was outside of a job title.  

As a student, the greatest opportunity you have is navigating and living through new experiences. Each experience adds to your story, and it is very okay if your story isn’t linear or written as a how-to-book. Truly what I think is most important for students entering the professional world to know is having an understanding of what your story is, how you want to use your story, and where you want your story to go.  

In thinking about emerging young professionals, what advice would you share to those seeking  their first opportunities?
It is valuable to look for a job or career path that is a ‘good fit’ to your lifestyle, values and goals, but you don’t need to find the perfect fit or the perfect job. I would encourage emerging young professionals to let go of perfection and all-or-nothing thinking and replace those with a growth mindset in which every job has the opportunity to become an opportunity. When one finds themselves in the job search I also recommend asking yourself, “How will this job/role serve me and my needs?” as well as asking, “Can this opportunity serve me and my needs?”. These questions and points of reflection can help set yourself up for a fulfilling fit in a job/role.  

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