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When your career is all you have left

  • Posted on November 16, 2018
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
career journeys at Avavanade

I recently interviewed ignition hires for the Infrastructure and Security talent community here at Avanade. The energy and excitement levels are often through the roof with prospective new college hires, which is a nice reminder of how many of us started out.


I came into Avanade through something of a different route, but I still walk around every day with my new-hire excitement, although with a bit of a seasoned-employee twist because Avanade saved my life and I will never stop being grateful. Let me explain.

Right out of college, I landed what felt like my dream job—working at the Center for Integrated Science and Engineering (CISE) at Columbia University. It was a blast. Unfortunately, it was a grant-funded role, and once that grant was lost, I found myself without a job in NYC. I spent a year trying to find something that good again but to no avail.

I decided to set my sights onto a new career path in technology and a new city, the second Silicon Valley, Seattle! I had some small office gigs but primarily waitressed at an Amazon Café in downtown Seattle. One day, on my lunch break, I received a call from an Accenture recruiter. They were looking for a full-time receptionist for their Redmond, WA location in the Opportunity Building.

Within a few months of starting with Accenture, I was able to work my way into an Infrastructure Technical Support Analyst role. I met Avanade CEO Adam Warby and Accenture CTIO Paul Daugherty one day when Adam needed some tech support. Shortly after, I was inspired to move over into consulting. Accenture had a hiring freeze at the time, but I made the switch to Avanade, a company that supported me during the darkest time of my life.

antonella-castaldo-adam-warby

While my career was coming together, my personal life was falling apart. Away from family, friends, and very alone in Seattle, I found myself in a controlling and abusive relationship that led to marriage. The abuse became so extensive that I was no longer able to work. I had just begun working at Avanade, and suddenly needed a one-month medical leave.

Three weeks into my leave, my HR representative Kendra called me to check in. I had just had a very bad episode with my then-husband, and, a few days later, had come clean to my family about the abuse and my plan to come back home. While on the call with Kendra, I broke down and cried. Kendra was right there with me and I will never forget the empathy and concern in her voice. “Get yourself out of there; get yourself safe; you are not losing your job. We support you and I will do everything I can to get you an emergency transfer home.” Wow, Avanade, you rock.

I made it home safely and was able to extend my leave for another month to get my mental health in better shape. Avanade supported me through it all. Once I started in the NYC office, the first person I met, Franc (who knew my story), asked me if I was okay and safe. I was blown away by the culture of Avanade. The support continued into my first project on the east coast under the leadership of Brian, who worked with me to ease into the travel schedule and made sure I could keep my physical and mental health on track.

With Avanade, I have been able to share my story. I joined the women’s resource group and hosted my own self-defense seminar. I love that we are able to be involved with causes that matter to us and come together to stretch our impact beyond technology innovation.

I had the opportunity to meet Adam Warby again recently. I let him know that Avanade saved my life and teased that I am going to get a tattoo of Avanade’s logo. I am the company’s biggest supporter and promoter, not just because of what we do but because of who we are.

My life has not turned out exactly as I expected. When I left New York for Seattle, I hoped I would come back to my family ideally with a great career, a husband and baby. But, thanks to Avanade, I have the career, a second chance at life, and all the excitement of a fresh new college hire!

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