Category Archives: CAREER JOURNEY – (Tips, Stories, Resources)

Providing inspiration, insight, and my own experiences with the struggles and joys of finding employment.

The 2013 Job Journey Conclusion- and Many Many Thanks!

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I haven’t had as much time to write blog posts recently, but I wanted to get a final update out for all those rallying behind me in my job seeking goals the past year. After 9 months of being unemployed or underemployed, I now have a full time job! Woohoo for consistent money! Here is a look back at 2013 and my job seeking journey…

At the beginning of 2013, I made a New Years resolution to take back my career path. In addition to updating my online presence, networking my butt off, attending job-seeking workshops, and applying for jobs continually, I joined the blogging world again. I made myself accountable with this blog post: The Long Hiatus is Finally Over

In those first few months I spent a lot of time building my connections. For all of you out there presently looking for work, the adage “It’s all about the people you know,” is absolutely true! Every door that opened for me was a result of my own determination, and the help of someone I met along the way.

I knew volunteering would be key to meeting new people, and building that network, plus I love giving my time to organizations doing good things, (and… being unemployed offers you a little more time in your week).

My first venture was with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, a non-profit focusing on stewardship and place-based education.  I wrote a 4-part blog series here: CSWC Blog Series

L.G.-Dinner

I did some volunteer communications work with LettuceGrow, a  nonprofit that brings gardens and gardening education to correctional facilities in the State of Oregon. I assisted with the annual fundraising dinner and wrote all about the big night HERE. (pictured above)

Last fall, I joined the Communications Board at SOLVE (an organization I have had my eye on since moving to Portland). Here is our Earth Day volunteer experience.

university-of-oregon_200x200I wrote a 5-part blog series for the University of Oregon Career Services Department, and a 5-part series for Mac’s List, a well-known Portland based job-seeking platform. Both of the series were based on my job seeking journey, and tips I came across along the way. (Links to these posts below)

networkWhat really sealed the deal on my employment in 2013 however, were the individuals I met along the way. Not only did these people assist me in my job seeking goals – inspiring me, coaching me, telling me to “hang in there,” some of them have become friends. It’s beautiful to watch your network grow. Although many people touched me and encouraged me along my path in 2013, there are a few that really  went the extra mile, or came into my life at just the right time. Below is my example of just how connected we all become, and how one thing truly leads to the next!

My networking break really came when the fabulous Aimee Fahey came into my life. I met Aimee through Twitter back in the spring. She reached out to me, asking to meet for coffee and I remember thinking, “things are really starting to turn around for me!” Aimee owns her own career coach & recruiting business, and knows A LOT of people. (She also writes a great blog!)ecogrrl

Not only was Aimee the catalyst for many of my new connections, she has been a huge support to me. She is a strong woman with conviction, and I admire her spirit and tenacity. Aimee has encouraged me to believe in my abilities, value what I bring to the table, and ask for compensation that is fair – all things I appreciate so much. It’s partly because of Aimee that I negotiated my current salary. (A few years ago, I would have accepted what was first offered without question.)

Macs ListAimee introduced me to Jessica Williams, which led to the blogging opportunity on Mac’s List. At the time, Jessica was leading Mac’s List (a Prichard Communications project), and I met with her for an informational interview. She was so kind, very encouraging, and offered to let me write some blog posts for the site. (Just weeks before this unfolded,  I was reading a guest post on Mac’s List thinking, “how did this woman get on here-it would be so COOL to have that opportunity”….Well-manifesting what you want really works sometimes)!

I also did an informational interview with Mac Prichard, such an outstanding man of the community, and I really appreciated the time he gave.

One of my favorite job-seeking events of the year was with Vicki Lind (I found on Mac’s List). She offers a free interviewing & networking practice workshop once a month. This opportunity was extremely helpful, and Vicki was kind enough to give me a copy of her book, “Finding a Job Worth Having.” 

SOLVE_Logo_Process_v2.6

Aimee introduced me to Michelle Lasley, Executive Assistant at SOLVE, which led me to meeting Mark Bendinelli, SOLVE’s Marketing Committee Chair, and now I’m on the Marketing Board for SOLVE! (Check out Michelle’s blog!)

My involvement with LettuceGrow was also Aimee’s doing, which led me to meet the Founder and Executive Director, Sarah Patterson. Not only did Sarah rally behind me in finding a job, she actually helped me get one! Sarah introduced me to Mark Gaskill, President & CEO of MKG Financial Group, Inc.

office view-4thof July-My Office View – Fourth of July weekend, Waterfront  Blues Festival-

I was interviewed for a communications/marketing position for MKG, and started a few days later. I was thrilled to finally have a “real job.” And getting to work downtown in a beautiful office on the river was exhilarating. But, this position was only part-time, and after 4 months, I decided to begin looking for something more full time with benefits.

Two days later, I received a phone call from Jackie Mathys from Mathys+Potestio, the creative recruiting company that I made connections with way back in February! I wrote about them in my Dance of Networking  post. Jackie had a position she was trying to fill and thought I would be a good fit. She met with me briefly to explain the job duties; but more importantly, she was a real cheerleader, encouraging me to fight for what I want in my career life and be a strong woman. I value these conversations and moments dearly.  Don’t ever underestimate the impact you may have on another individual!

I interviewed on a Friday, and started working the following Monday. After two months of the temp-to-hire arrangement, I was offered a permanent full-time position. See how everything comes full circle!

New Office View2-No “Office” view at the new job, but we are right next to the river trail in Johns Landing-so I have a slice of nature on my walk every day.-

During this time, I also had the good fortune of meeting Greg Bell, founder of Water The Bamboo Center For Leadership. I love how we meet individuals during pivotal moments of change in our lives. Greg met with me one morning, and his presence is calming and his spirit is inspirational and encouraging.

BambooGreg wrote the book, Water The Bamboo, a highly recommended read for any individual forging their dreams, or any business desiring to create a solid foundation. I am so grateful Greg took a morning out of his week to meet with me, as the seeds of hope he planted that day have become a new foundation for my living. Again…never underestimate the impact you may have on another!

I now work for the cyber security event company SecureWorld Expo as there communications and marketing coordinator. It has been a great atmosphere for learning many new things with a fun group of people. Plus, I have my very first “grown-up” job with paid vacation and benefits!

I’m slowly learning the life-work balance, and my career journey certainly isn’t over; but for now, the stability of employment is a true blessing I’m very thankful for.

Office SunriseAnd…I still work very part-time at MKG, so I get the perk of that great office view every so often. Now I watch the best sunrises as I start my day very early!

Many thanks to all of my friends and family that supported and believed in me through my 2013 job seeking year, and many thanks to all the new people that entered my life – what a journey it was!

Extra Links From 2013:

Guest Interview: Post on Aimee Fahey’s EcoGrrl interview blog series

Mac’s List 5-part Blog Series:

1. Don’t Do These Four Things When Looking For Work in Portland (This was shared nearly 2000 times.)                                                                                                           2. What to do Before You Send Your Resume to a Portland Employer                     3. How to talk about Your Job Search                                                                                       4. Maintain Your Online Presence-4 Tips to Keep it Fresh                                              5. Use Feng Shui to Help Your Job Hunt                                                                    BONUS: Top 10 Most Read  “Mac’s List” Blog Posts of the Year

University of Oregon 5-part Blog Series:

1. Introducing Heather – What I learned From My Job Search Mistakes
2. How to Start Your Job Search
3. How to Maintain That Online Presence – 4 Tips to Keep it Fresh 
4.How to Talk  About Your Job Search –  Keep if Fresh                                                        5. How Heather Got the Job – BONUS Interview Video  

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The Necessary Struggle

                                                       -Image Source-

In honor of my birthday today, I wanted to share a story from earlier in the year about growth, inspiration, and hanging in there. In the middle of my recent job hunting journey, I interviewed for a position I thought I was perfect for. It had the most ideal blend of my communication skills and the meaningful work I had been looking for. It was a position at a community college (a location I have longed to work at), that provided a flexible schedule working with students and local nonprofit groups. I honestly felt the job description was written for me, and I would be the perfect hire.

The interview went well, so I waited for the phone call, just knowing I was getting the job. While I waited, I continued my job seeking goals. One night I attended an event at the University of Oregon, Portland campus. The speakers were great, the free beer is always fun, and  I was so convinced I had this community college job in the bag, I was on cloud 9 with very little worries. 

As I left the event and waited for public transit to take me home, I checked my email. That’s when I got the terrible news…I didn’t get the job. I was devastated. At this point, I had been looking for work nearly four months, and I was SO excited about this job, I just thought it was meant to be.

I boarded the MAX with tears in my eyes, feeling so defeated. This was an entry level part-time position. All I could think of was, “If I can’t get this job, what job can I get?” I sat there letting the news mull in my mind. Maybe I should have answered a question differently during the interview, maybe I was too confident, maybe I didn’t have a particular skill-set, or enough experience. Then suddenly, a vision flashed across my mind.

I saw myself entering a stage in front of hundreds of people. Although I’ve clearly aged, I have a spring in my step, I’m smiling, waving, and the people are there to hear my story.  Then I realized, my story will start out with trials, struggles and rejections, but my story will end with, “I just kept trying, and look where I am today!” I had a beautiful “aha” moment. 

This vision made me smile as I realized that all the “no’s” I receive today make my story that much more interesting and inspiring for those to follow. I’m paving the way, I’m making myself stronger, and one day, I will make it!

Looking at my rejection in this positive light gave me hope again.  I thought about a story I read recently in a parenting book, about the necessity of letting our children struggle because it’s the key to making them strong and independent. This story really resonates with me as a job seeker, and as someone figuring out my path still facing rejection from time-to-time.

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“A teacher sends his students into the woods to watch a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. The student watches and waits, and the butterfly struggles to free itself from the cocoon. The student begins to worry about the poor butterfly. He watches some more and waits, and finally, his heart is filled with compassion for the poor butterfly’s struggle. Very gently, he reaches over and helps the butterfly out of its cocoon. The butterfly flies for a few feet and then falls to the ground and dies. The student begins to cry and runs back to his teacher. “Why,” he demands, “why did the butterfly die?” The teacher replies, “When you reached in and helped the butterfly out of its cocoon, you deprived it of the opportunity to strengthen its wings in the struggle.”                                      -“How to Hug a Porcupine” by Julie A. Ross, M.A.

How to Use Feng Shui in Your Job Hunt


Simple Feng Shui Suggestions 

The following post was originally written for my Mac’s List series. I think it’s fun, so thought I would share, enjoy!

At the very beginning of my job hunt journey I found myself trying all sorts of things, and Feng Shui was one of the most fun. You might think Feng Shui is used for decorating homes, but the principles can be useful in many areas of your life, including the job hunt. When used in conjunction with your hard work and determination, Feng Shui can bring the right kind of energy to your career goals. If nothing else, the small effort you put into Feng Shui helps solidify your intentions. The idea of Feng Shui is to create space in your home that allows energy to flow freely and harmoniously. During the job search, it’s important to be open to new things coming into your life (i.e. that new job). Here are a few Feng Shui tips I learned in my research to help create that energy.

1. De-Clutter:

According to Feng Shui teachings, clutter is the antitheses of energy flowing through your home freely. Check that your closets aren’t over stuffed, areas under the bed are orderly, and your desk is cleared before beginning work.

2. Identify the Career Corner:

The North area in your home is connected to the flow of energy in your career life, also called “Path in Life.” This can also be the north sector of your living room, office, bedroom, or dining room. There are elements that activate the career chi, bringing in opportunities. Try hanging or placing in your career corner a few metal objects (especially gold in color), a mirror, water feature, or decorating with blue and black colors. You can also display images of people whose career and professional life you admire in this North area.

3. Home Entrance:

According to Feng Shui philosophy, it’s important to make the entrance to your home as attractive as possible to invite new opportunities in. Make sure the front door isn’t blocked or difficult to open, and the path to the front door is well-lit and clear. Wash the door and hinges, and perhaps buy a new welcome mat, potted plant or wind chime. Another suggestion is to tape your dream job description on the inside of your front door to help manifest it into existence.

4. Other Corners:

Identify the Southeast corner of your home, this is your money and abundance area. The element for this area is wood, so avoid metal objects and try placing a green plant or water feature in the corner. Good Feng Shui in the Northwest corner, including art with a metal element, can attract helpful people in your life.

Finally, recognize that your personal energy is connected to the energy in your home / office. Take care of yourself, and the rest will fall into place.

Do you have some favorite Feng Shui tips that would benefit the job seeker? Please share below! For more detailed Feng Shui suggestions to use in your office, visit: Using Feng Shui in Your Home Office.


10-Point CheckList – What to do BEFORE You Apply for the Job

“You Must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be.” -David Viscott

Although it’s tempting to dive right into the job application process, I highly recommend building a solid job seeking foundation first. This will position you to be far more organized, focused, and successful in getting what you want.  

I recently wrote a blog post for the University of Oregon’s Career Service Center (Portland office) with suggestions on what to do before you start applying for jobs. Here is an expanded version with a few more suggestions.

1. Career Coach / Counseling

If you are finding yourself totally lost on where to start with the job search journey, seek out a career coach or career counseling center at a university. Most (if not all) schools have some sort of career advising. Career websites are a fantastic place to start. Try University of Oregon or Portland State University to launch your search.

If you graduated from a university, or attending one, take full advantage of the career counselors. You might as well, you pay for their services in your tuition fees. Even if you feel like you have everything figured out (like I did my first time around), I really encourage you to go for one visit. I can almost guarantee the person you talk with will provide some sort of insight into job seeking tactics you hadn’t considered.

Career coaches often offer a free consultation and different packages to fit your budget. Maybe seeing  someone just once or twice will be the push you need to get going in the right direction. I recently found Vicki Lind, a Portland based career coach. She offers free introductory workshops on how to craft yourself (those useful elevator pitches), the first Friday of every month. I recently attended her workshop with seven other people, and it was really helpful. Not only did it FORCE me to practice my message, but I learned a lot of great tips – all in a comfortable safe setting with fellow job seekers.

I have recently been acquainted with  EcoGrrl Consulting. Aimee is a local Portlander and has been in the recruiting world for years. She is well connected, offers a variety of services and comes well recommended-check out her LinkedIn profile too! 

[If you have a favorite career coach, or career counseling service, please add them to the comment section below- I would love to provide more resources, thanks!] 

2. Figure out what you really want from a job

Begin thinking about what’s most important to you. Are you wanting a position that offers flexibility in hours and days? Maybe office location is important because you hope to bike or take public transportation to work. Is it important that the company’s mission statement aligns with your beliefs? Perhaps salary or potential for promotion is most important to you.

Knowing the answers to these, and making a list of priorities can help you weed through the job postings. At a recent Women’s Roundtable event, I learned knowing your priorities is also helpful during salary revues.

3. Make Yourself Accountable

Upon embarking on my second attempt job search, I wrote a blog post letting everyone know that the long hiatus was finally over. I was ready to try again at finding my first career position. I did this to explain my online absence for the previous year, and share my story; but mostly, I wanted to make myself accountable. Tell your friends and family your goals and intentions, this way they can help rally behind you through the process, and keep you accountable.

4. Brainstorm

Take a few days to brainstorm tactics you plan to apply to the job search, and design a way to keep track of your ideas. I am a huge advocate for lists, so I created several of them to help me flesh out everything I think of. This really helps me stay organized and ensures no possibility goes unexplored. Some of my categories include:

1. People to contact for informational interviews                                    2. Organizations I may enjoy working for                                                 3. Online items that need attention ( blog, LinkedIn etc.)                       4. People I can contact for references                                                          5. Job posting locations (job boards, career service sites etc.)

5. All Things Positive 


You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable.”  

-Deepak Chopra

There is no better time than now to surround yourself with positivity. When I started my job hunt, I went to the library and simply browsed the “self-help” section, picking out a dozen different books on finding your true self, and maintaining a positive spirit. These books helped me get in touch with what I really want from my potential career, and continue to provide me with inspiration.

Figure out what makes you feel great, motivated, and uplifted. Maybe a favorite comedian that makes you laugh, or a favorite painting that evokes a sense of peace – surround yourself with these things before you dive into the job search world (and as you travel through the journey). This includes surrounding yourself with positive people and places too!

I always have a favorite quote on my mirror or refrigerator reminding me to keep at it, and stay positive. Here are a few examples:

We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.”          – Helen Keller

Progress always involves risk. You can’t steal second base                      and keep your foot on first.”    – Frederick B. Wilcox

The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” -Anonymous

6. Make a plan and set goals

Before I dove into anything, I took a week to come up with a master plan. Tackling the gigantic “to-do” list without order is overwhelming and leads to inefficiency. My plan included what I needed to do in the first couple of weeks (laying the foundation), and what my weekly goals would be from there.

7. Look Your Best

Money is most likely a little tight during the job search, and I certainly advocate budgeting and being mindful of spending, but now is the time to look your best. When I graduated college, my grandmother gave me money and said, “I want you to buy a nice suit for your interviews, and get your hair done.” This is certainly sage advice. Not only do we need to look great making those first impressions, but looking nice boosts our confidence significantly- which goes a long way in those interviews! 

I always honor inner beauty first and foremost, but most of us enjoy a little something that adds spunk to our walk, and that’s okay too. Maybe it’s getting your nails done, purchasing new dress shoes, or a new tie, whatever your thing is – know you deserve to look your best! Spend a little bit of money, and rest assured it’s a secure investment.

Nothing shouts “powerhouse” like a strut of confidence. And you don’t need to spend a lot of money. I bought one of my favorite interview outfits at the Goodwill. (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)  Sometimes salons offer free hair styling for interviews (if you are a client of course). Ask your hair dresser if he or she offers something similar.

8. Clean up your online presence

Make sure your online presence is in tip-top shape before you send out a single resume. (More online presence info to come in a future post.)

9. Affirmations

“Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.”

-Tom Blandi                                                         

It’s easy to get discouraged during any endeavor, so it’s imperative you begin with a positive attitude. That doesn’t mean you won’t get down from time to time, we are all human, but it’s much easier to pick yourself back up if you start with a positive frame of mind.

I love having positive affirmations written down that I can turn to. Try reading a few out loud before you go to bed, or when you first get up in the morning, or if you feel yourself struggling through the day or week to accomplish your goals. Here are some I really like:

I have confidence in myself.                                                                          I am skilled and talented.                                                                              I will make an excellent addition to any organization or business.      I make a difference whenever I can.

This site has some great examples, find something that works for you!

10. Make it happen!

I’m a big believer in the power of our thoughts and the ability to manifest what we desire into our lives (hence the positive affirmations above).  After you figure out what you are really wanting in a career, write it down, look at it every day, tape it to your bathroom mirror or other visible space. Don’t limit yourself to anything at this stage, I say dream big. You may not manifest everything you want in that first job, but over the years, you will be amazed how you have the power to mold your life to the shape you most desire. 

Finding a job may not be easy, but believing in yourself and setting a solid foundation to launch the job search from, will make the process a lot more fun, and being successful far more likely.

What are some foundational steps that you apply when embarking on a new journey or challenge, please share below!

Image Sources In Order of Appearance:     #1        #2        #3      #4     #5       #6

A Year to Volunteer!

Project Introduction

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Aligning with this years networking focus, and launching my presence out in the community, I am VOLUNTEERING! I have volunteered for more than a dozen organizations in various capacities over the years ranging from tabling and phone banking for Planned Parenthood, to running climate change awareness campaigns for Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG), to chaperoning field trips for my daughter’s class trips. One of the most memorable however, was the summer I cooked 3 meals a day for 120 people for an entire week at a Sierra Student Coalition Summer Training. (I  had a helper!)

However, when I moved to Portland, I was slow to get involved. So, one of my New Years Resolutions is to volunteer for a different organization each month, and sample a dozen non-profits. I am determined to fulfill my dozen quota, but it may not be on a neat and tidy monthly schedule. I plan to highlight the organizations, perform interviews with staff, volunteers, and participants, and of course, share my experiences volunteering for causes I care about!

So, you guessed it, my first organization is the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. I have already highlighted the Columbia Slough, some of the outreach and  community events the council organizes,  and you can look for the interview post next week, and my personal experiences post soon.

I will be moving on to the next organization next week, so stay tuned to discover the next lucky cause I will be highlighting. Do you work or volunteer for an organization you would like to see me cover? Do you have a favorite cause that deserves extra attention? Have a non-profit in mind you think I would really enjoy volunteering for? Please comment below-I would love suggestions! I post all my content to the organizations Twitter and Facebook accounts (when appropriate and applicable), and of course, my blog posts are shared with all the folks in my network!

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”   –  Martin Luther King, Jr

Above Image Credit:   http://benton.lphamo.org/volunteer.htm

The Dance of Networking

As I stated in my “The Long Hiatus is Finally Over” post, one of my main goals this year is NETWORKING. So, I have been inviting folks to join my LinkedIn network, following more professionals on Twitter, and commenting on blogs and articles I find interesting. All of this increases my online presence and participation, however, one of the best ways to network is getting out there face to face with professionals.

I have started going to workshops and seminars to make this happen. I recently attended the RUNT. never underestimate event organized by Mathys + Potestio  in downtown Portland. Runt is a quarterly professional development series from The Creative Party in partnership with the University of Oregon. The event discussed best practices to make freelancing work, featuring Jackie Mathys, Principle of Mathys+Potestio, and Portland based Melissa Delzio, a graphic design freelancer.

Typically, all these events begin with a 30-minute meet and greet period before the guest speaker(s) present. This is the grand networking opportunity. As I walked into the room that night, I signed in, grabbed a name tag and browsed the room. Everyone looked like they were there with another person; a friend, spouse, co-worker etc. I immediately felt so alone, and desperately wished I had brought a buddy or didn’t arrive so early. I was grateful that beer was being served, not because I needed a drink, but because it gave me something to do; at this point, I just wanted to kill time so that I didn’t have to be uncomfortable for any longer than necessary. Next, I headed to the bathroom, a natural time waster.

Realizing I needed a serious change in attitude, I gave myself a stern internal talk. “Look Heather, you are here to network, and get your name out there. You never know who you might meet, and what opportunities are waiting for you. So get out there and meet people!”

If only I had read a really awesome blog post on the dance of networking. I felt so awkward. How should I approach someone? What should I say? Should I be forceful in my mission, (I’m looking for work), or more reserved and talk about my interests and how great the beer is. Although I’m confident, and actually have quite a bit of experience talking in front of large groups, I can be shy, especially in a room full of people that I don’t know. Everyone that night seemed so professional, and I felt like an amateur. I was nervous I would interrupt a group of individuals that all knew each other well, and feel like an outsider.

Although I was nervous, I left that bathroom with one mission, find someone to introduce myself to, But sadly, I stalled some more. Still timid, I went straight to a display at the back of the room, pretending to look at the images, but really just scared to chat it up with a complete stranger. Plus, I was nervous about the possibility of interrupting a private conversation. I felt like such a child, but I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t just do it.

So I marched myself up to the first table I was near and simply said, “Do you mind if I join you all?” “Of course not,” the group replied, as they introduced themselves to me. It was really that easy. We all shared our interests, background, why we were at the event etc. They all knew each other, but my addition to the group didn’t seem out of place, and I felt comfortable right away.

I’m happy to report, that this particular networking dance has a great ending. It turns out, (lucky for me, or perfect serendipity), that one of the women in the group happened to be the moderator that evening, and employee of the very organization putting on the event, Mathys + Potestio. It just so happens, that this organization hires creative individuals for other organizations and businesses. Later in the week, I filled out an online application mentioning that I attended the RUNT event. I also sent an email to the woman I spoke with before the event, saying a quick hello, and attached my resume. I figured, maybe she would remember our brief encounter, and it certainly couldn’t hurt. I immediately received an email back asking if I would like to come into the office for a meet and greet!

Maybe my application was so amazing that I would have been called in regardless of my attending the event. However, I have a sneaking suspicion the fact that I took the time to attend RUNT, and the chance encounter with the employee prior to the event, may have been the very thing that pushed my application to the YES pile.

This incredible serendipitous evening may turn into a wonderful opportunity for me, (I shall keep you posted). Regardless of what happens however, I have learned a valuable lesson in actually meeting people during the “meet and greet” networking portion of events! Do you have a similar encouraging networking story? Tips that you would like to share in making networking more comfortable for those of us on the shy or timid side. Share below in the comments section!

Special thanks to the sponsors: PODS (Professional Outreach and Development for Students-Career Services @UO), and 10Barrel Brewing Company from Bend,OR. One can’t go wrong offering free delicious craft beer at an educational event!

The Long Hiatus is Finally Over!

I haven’t written in more than a year, and I’m back! In my final year as a student at the University of Oregon, I wrapped up the two degrees I was working on, took on way too many internships trying to beef up that resume, and worked two jobs, all while raising my daughter as a single parent! Whew, no wonder I was burnt out! I had been working on my higher education the past 7 years (I’m one of those students), and frankly, I was tired when I graduated. I had big plans of moving to Portland, knowing all my dreams would fall into place just perfectly with little effort, well that didn’t “exactly” happen.

IMG_5963-My Daughter Hadlie and I – Willamette River Waterfront – Downtown Portland-

For several months I looked for work. In all those resumes and cover letters I sent out, I landed only two phone interviews, not making it to the next round with either one.

My hopeful, positive spirit, slowly got crushed as the weeks and months passed, with my dream job (or any job), simply not coming to fruition. I was in a tough place, 2011 was the middle of the recession and most people experienced some rough economic times. Jobs simply weren’t easy to come by (still aren’t). With every rejection letter, the employer would let me know I was a strong candidate for the position, but they received more than 200 applications. Being a recent graduate, I just couldn’t compete with years of experience other candidates had. I did FIVE internships in my senior year alone, I thought my resume would look great.

Alas, after five months of continual despair, and becoming incredibly discouraged, (it was supposed to be so easy), I bit the bullet and did the one thing I promised myself I would never do again, I blanketed the service industry with my resume. Yes, I would get a serving position. I was going broke following my career dreams, and I had to be realistic and pay the bills. Waiting tables is quick money, so it’s  easy to fall back on, and I had years of experience.

I was grateful to get a waitressing job fairly quickly at the Nite Hawk Diner in North Portland, just in time for Christmas! I worked this job for all of 2012. The plan was to work part time, and continue finding a career on the side. This happened some, but to be honest, I was burnt out on finding work. Waitressing for a year was kind of a nice break, so I took it.

As the months passed however, I found myself becoming more and more apathetic, and lacking  motivation. I recognized I was in a rut, so I made a rash decision to take a leave of absence from my job, and travel to Hawaii over the recent winter break.

This was the best thing for me! I returned refreshed, rejuvenated, motivated, encouraged, and passionate once again! I’ve been taking note of all the things I should have done in my job search before, and I will simply have to try harder this time around!IMG_6359

I loved my customers at the diner, and it was great to work for a small family business, they treated me well. What that sort of job will never provide me however, is a sense of purpose. There are far too many issues in this world that I care strongly about, and I have far too much passion in my heart to sit idly by, I want to be proud of what I’m doing! When I die, I want to be able to look back and think, yes I did all I could to make this world a little better.

I want my time, and energy put forth helping to solve the problems that I’m concerned about, and frankly, I don’t think my huge heart and multitude of talents should be wasted on performing work that I don’t fully enjoy, I want more!

So, I’m entering 2013 with a fresh outlook, positive attitude, and a fighting spirit. I’m taking measures to meet new people in the fields I’m interested in, researching more, getting my name out there; so eventually, businesses and organizations will be coming to me offering me positions! (Well, I may as well dream big).

I’m starting with my online presence. It’s essential these days, and I vow to be involved more.  I will be adding blog posts regularly, entering the twitter world daily, and cleaning up my profile in LinkedIn.

Wish me luck on this very exciting journey. I hope to get feedback from many of you as I travel through 2013. If nothing else, this post will keep me accountable.