Professional Development
Career development / Sponsored content / Tech jobs

How I Got Here: These 9 tech and startup pros share how they began their career paths

For How I Got Here Month, we asked our Talent and Ecosystem Builder companies how senior team members got their start.

How did you start your career? (Photo by Sam Markowitz)

This sponsored content is a part of How I Got Here Month of's editorial calendar. The organizations appearing in this article are Talent and Ecosystem Builder clients.

When it comes to advancing one’s professional career, there are about as many paths as there are people.

There’s no single way to get somewhere, and it’s never too late to change direction. And although each individual career is unique, knowing how others have made it to where you want to go can make it easier to navigate your own journey. Their experiences can guide you to follow in their steps, provide shortcuts to expedite your growth or show you pitfalls and mistakes to avoid. Even if their progress doesn’t align exactly with your goals, their stories can still inspire, highlighting that diversions are not necessarily distractions and that unexpected changes can lead you to right where you need to be.

For the month of November,’s reporting has explored the theme of How I Got Here for our editorial calendar. For some additional perspectives, we asked our Talent and Ecosystem Builder companies the following question:

How did a senior team member of your org get started in their career?

Here are some replies from their teams, and if you like what you see, follow the links to companies’ Directory Pages to learn more and explore open roles.

Ballard Spahr

Jessica Origlio started her career as a business development analyst at a large New York law firm supporting the M&A and capital markets groups. The clients consisted primarily of very large Fortune 100 companies, which is where she thought she wanted to focus her legal career. It became clear pretty quickly that in that world you spend your time hopping from deal to deal without much emphasis on what came before or after. She realized the best way to make an impact in the business world was at the earliest stage of a company’s lifecycle. So she shifted her focus to startups and hasn’t looked back.

“As a startup lawyer, she built incredible relationships with entrepreneurs and has learned to support them through their entire life cycle — both from a legal and business perspective — and set them up for success so they can focus on the development and growth of cutting edge technology and exciting new products or services. In working with founders to achieve an M&A exit, she has been able to harness her business development skills in a manner that has broader impact on the emerging tech community. For Jess, that process has been inspiring and meaningful.” — Kimberly Klayman, partner


“While I was enrolled in a Ph.D. program in music theory, I learned programming instead of a second foreign language. After doing programming on the side for a few years, and having no luck on the academic job market, I applied to work at Fastmail, since I had been a Fastmail customer for several years. After convincing Ricardo [Signes] (now our CTO) that yes, I really did want to do programming full-time, I came on board, and here we are, nearly six years later!” — Michael McClimon, backend developer


“I joined FinLocker as a developer intern in my junior year, and really liked the work and the team. I was and still am very eager to learn, so I took on software engineering tasks across the board, front-end and UX, backend services and database work and got a full-time role with them. These experiences challenged me to learn new elements of our tech stack, and really helped me round out as a full-stack developer. I was promoted to a lead last year, and I still enjoy trying out new design patterns, new technologies, sharing what I know and continuing to get better as a software engineer.” — Jet Huang, technical lead


“Our CTO Paul Biancaniello holds a bachelor of science in math and physics from Lehigh University and both a master of science degree and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to Kleer, he worked at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratories in the artificial intelligence and brain-inspired computing groups, where he led several technical projects in deep learning, computer vision, cyber security and large-scale network analytics.

“He then went on to become the CTO and cofounder of Sense Health, a mobile application that allows healthcare providers to support their patients in between appointments. The application was so successful that the company was purchased. Paul now infuses a deep expertise in technology and data analytics into Kleer’s platform, enabling users to access a truly cutting-edge membership plan solution. His responsibilities range across R&D, project management, engineering support and data analysis. He has built a dedicated team overseas and is now expanding that team with engineers at our headquarters stateside.” — Melissa Richardson, VP of team success

PNC Financial Services

“Curiosity has been key, as well as taking advantage of several programs offered by PNC. The first was the technology development program, which allowed me to rotate through different roles in the technology department and network with a wide range of people. Next are the employee business resource groups that are focused on employee development, as well as on sharing resources and connecting people across the company. Lastly, there’s PNC’s formal mentoring program.” — Morgan Small, senior business analytics consultant


Dr. Arti Santhanam’s career was inspired by a childhood cancer diagnosis and influential doctors and teachers she met along the way. Arti earned a Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics from Rutgers University in New Jersey followed by a master of science in clinical biochemistry from the University of Madras in India. After completing a postdoctoral study at the National Cancer Institute, Arti was a senior scientist and subject matter expert for MITRE Corporation and later for her own consulting firm, collaborating with partners at DoD to address global health concerns.

“Arti is [now] the executive director of TEDCO’s Maryland Innovation Initiative, which helps to create startups from Maryland universities. Since its inception in 2012, MII companies have successfully commercialized early-stage technology and attracted nearly $693 million in follow-on funding.” — Tammi Thomas, chief marketing and communications officer

Vistar Media

“My career started as a web developer, just after graduating from RIT in 2008. I built websites and did CMS implementations for associations, nonprofits and local governments back in the days when creating CSS stylesheets specifically for IE6 quirks was a thing.” — Craig Ceremuga, senior software engineer

“I was always interested in computers, and tried learning Java and C++ at a young age, not to great success. It wasn’t until college that I took computer science courses and began programming more in Scheme. Later, I found some internships that allowed me to experience full-stack web development and life at both a startup and a larger corporation.” — Zach DiCesare, software engineer

Zip Code Wilmington

“Zip Code Wilmington’s lead technical instructor, Dolio Durant, started his career in programming after graduating from MIT as a mechanical engineer.  While at MIT, Durant took a computer programming course out of necessity and curiosity when he realized that all the devices he was designing included a software component. Durant says:

“Programming proved to be quite exciting, as I was able to work on many challenging problems for various industries first as a consultant, then as a key developer working in various programs and languages. Throughout my career, however, I did notice that the pool of talent tended to be rather homogeneous, as far as those who took the traditional path into the industry. Having taken a nontraditional path into software development, I saw an opportunity to change that by providing training to curious minds, initially in my own home to a few friends and neighbors after having been given access to a space in an available lecture hall, and then to various people who expressed interest on social media. I trained them out of the desire to see more people from diverse backgrounds jump into this thing that I love. I am currently the lead technical instructor at Zip Code Wilmington, where I have had the privilege of training hundreds of new developers who are now actively writing enterprise-level code in several companies within the region and beyond.”

“Currently, Durant combines his love of coding instruction with his love of music. In addition to teaching at Zip Code Wilmington, Durant tours the world with his internationally acclaimed band, Gangstagrass.” — Desa Burton, executive director


Want to take the next step in your professional path? Check out all the Talent and Ecosystem Builder companies here, and find out about their missions, cultures and open positions.

P.S. If you’re curious about’s services for your own org, find more info here and connect with us.

Explore Talent and Ecosystem Builder companies
Companies: FinLocker / Kleer / Fastmail / PNC Financial Services / Zip Code Wilmington / TEDCO / Ballard Spahr / Vistar Media
Series: How I Got Here Month 2022 / Ecosystem Builder Monthly Prompts / Company Builder Monthly Prompts

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