Last year SolarCity added 4,000 new hires to our team, bringing our current workforce to over 9,500 employees nationwide. Those are 9,500 bright, determined individuals, from a diverse array of backgrounds. We’ve been celebrating our team and all their various talents by highlighting some of the SolarCity employees who have also held careers as professional athletes. Meet the next all-star in our series:
Mark Washington is a former linebacker. He played college football at Arizona State, and played in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, and Miami Dolphins.
Role at SolarCity: Channel Account Manager
Hometown: I’ve lived all over! During my football career I lived in California, Colorado and Arizona. When I was young my parents saved up so our family could spend time living abroad and develop a global perspective. We lived in Senegal, Madrid, Málaga, Paris and Nice.
SolarCity Office: Thousand Palms, California
Started working with us: January 2015
Why did you join SolarCity?
This company lines up with the things that are important to me. I’ve always had a mind geared towards sustainability. Before this job I was on a weekly Bay Area television show about going green called Billions Rising.
What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
The part of this job that excites me the most is something I’m already familiar with: motivating. It’s a skill that comes naturally to me because of my time in sports. As a linebacker I led the defense; I’ve always had to be the leader, and set the example for the rest of my teammates. My job now is to train and motivate a team of salespeople, and that’s something I really enjoy doing.
Office culture in a few words:
Energetic, passionate and progressive.
How did you get involved in football?
My dad was a great athlete, and also a football player. I never had the opportunity to play in any of the youth leagues but football was something I’d always had an interest in. When we returned from living overseas, I told my dad, “I know you played ball and had all these amazing experiences…I’m tired of hearing about it, I want to experience it on my own!” He made a deal with me: if I took my SAT I could attend public school and play sports. So I took the SAT when I was 14 years old, enrolled at Long Beach Poly and started playing football my junior year. Things took off after that.
What’s been the most triumphant moment of your athletic career?
Winning the state championship in high school, and making it to the NFL. I didn’t have things easy growing up, so being able to overcome the obstacles in front of me and make it to that level was a huge accomplishment.
Was there a particularly tough challenge you had to overcome?
The number one challenge in football is fighting through adversity with injuries- knowing how to manage pain, recovery and rehabilitation, while still striving to surpass the competition and be the best player possible. In professional football your performance is constantly being evaluated, so keeping yourself fine-tuned like a racecar is important.
Do any of the skills you’ve acquired being a professional athlete help you on the job?
Persistence and motivation - those are skills I really honed during my football career. Mike Singletary, my coach while I played with the 49ers, taught me how to persevere when my mind was telling my body that it couldn’t go any further. Learning how to overcome that, how to dig deep and find that extra bit of motivation to keep going, is what will separate you from everyone else.
Any advice for those looking to succeed in their career, be it professional football or otherwise?
Never get comfortable- whether you’re currently satisfied with where you are in life or not. You can always better yourself.
We’re looking for trailblazers from every walk of life to join our fast-growing team. Check out the current opportunities on our career page.