Interview by B Vivit
You might recognize Michaela Albanese from the QBP materials about the scholarship from last year, the pink hair is pretty hard to mistake for someone else. Albanese won the scholarship in 2016 and has one of the stories that we as instructors, always love to hear. Albanese used the scholarship as a turning point in her own career, applying to and continuing in a different capacity in the bike industry. Now one of the Field Representatives for Trek, Albanese uses that gregarious personality and knowledge to set up demos in the Northeast. Be sure to say hello and ask about her experience!
BV: What work were you doing before the scholarship?
MA: I was the Assistant Sales Manager at a bike shop in Philadelphia.
BV: Which class were you? How many years did you apply before winning the scholarship?
MA: 2016. This was my second time applying.
BV: Where are you now?
MA: I'm currently the Field Marketing Representative of the Northeast for Trek Bikes. I am in charge of scheduling and conducting events in my territory, such as demos, expos, and advocacy events. I have a sprinter van full of a demo fleet to maintain for these events, so I still get to get my hands dirty on bikes quite a bit. I also work with shops in the territory with their marketing plans and in-shop merchandising.
BV: What impacted you the most about your experience?
MA: I think the number one thing I gained from attending the women's class at UBI was confidence. I had been working in an entirely male staffed shop prior to attending the scholarship, which was not also the easiest environment to learn. Being able to learn surrounded by other women who were also trying to learn made a huge difference; no egos, lots of support, which opened a lot of doors for me to continue to learn after class despite my surroundings.
Being able to learn surrounded by other women who were also trying to learn made a huge difference; no egos, lots of support, which opened a lot of doors for me to continue to learn after class despite my surroundings.
BV: What was the most helpful skill or trick that you learned during the scholarship?
MA: As far as technical skills, the thing I think I benefited most from was actually service writing. Being able to look over the bike and quickly diagnose what is going on with the bike at once, instead of discovering problems as the bike is worked on. It has helped me both inside the bike shop as well as my current job.
BV: Did you restructure your goals after leaving the scholarship? How did the scholarship help you attain them?
MA: Prior to class, I was not 100% sure that the cycling industry was where I needed to be, but as mentioned in my previous answer, I gained confidence to continue to learn about bikes despite a sometimes unwelcoming environment. This cemented in my mind that I wanted to continue working in the industry and progressing onward. After the scholarship, with the encouragement of some of my other classmates and instructors, I decided to move to another bike shop that was more welcoming to me learning and progressing as a mechanic, as well as being a more woman friendly shop in general. After being at this shop for a year, and being able to get more support with the advocacy programs I helped run, I was able to get my experience up to apply to more jobs inside the industry outside of the shop.
BV: What piece of advice can you give to the hopeful women applying this year?
MA: The most important thing is to be an ambassador for cycling! Whether it's mechanics, skills, nutrition, ride routes, or whatever, share the knowledge and enthusiasm that you have with as many people as you can.
And no matter what, don't let anyone keep you from that passion!
BV: Any last thoughts?
MA: Just want to give another thanks to the instructors at UBI. I ran into a few of them at Sea Otter this year, and they were so excited to see me working for Trek, it is so clear that these people are super passionate about what they are doing. I would not be where I am without that passion, especially in these two short years, I am so very thankful for all their hard work!
You can read more about Albanese on the Team Laser Cats page.