Tag Archives: Job Hunt

Farewell to SecureWorld Amid The Global Pandemic

For nearly seven years, I have worked for SecureWorld, a cybersecurity event company. Last week, just like 40+ million of my fellow Americans, I filed for unemployment. Many industries have been hit hard by the pandemic, with the event industry certainly high on the list.

At the beginning of March, I found myself traveling to Charlotte for work, a little nervous about the Coronavirus, but it was the very beginning…

The day before the conference, it was my job to speak with representatives in every booth to ensure they were all set to utilize our conference app, and answer any questions. This particular conference had 35-40 booths – that is a lot of contact – and we didn’t know the 6 ft. rule yet.

It was an awkward introduction every time; do we shake hands, do we wave, do we say anything about the awkwardness…? It was the beginning of uncharted territory, and learning a new way to communicate. One of the booths had a “no handshake” sign – a little foreshadowing of the months ahead.

Never underestimate the effectiveness of good signage!

For the next two days, I heard side conversations about what it would be like to stop travelling for work. I didn’t hear anyone mention, “What would it be like if we lose our jobs?” None of us knew how quickly things would shift over the next few weeks.

I was back home in Portland for only one week when our office decided to work remotely. Two days later, the shelter in place order was issued.

I was proud of the way we pivoted as an organization quickly. We moved to an all digital presence, hired a PR firm to communicate effectively with our different stakeholders, and did our best to hang on for the next few months.

We rescheduled our in-person conferences for later in the year with hopes that the wave would pass, and conferences in late summer and early fall could still be held.

However, as the weeks and months unfolded, it became clear that the conference world just wouldn’t be possible in 2020, and quite likely 2021, and who knows for how long into the future. There was nothing I did wrong, quite simply, my role with SecureWorld no longer exists.

These past few weeks have been filled with every emotion concerning my employment. A part of me is excited to find a new opportunity in a field that aligns more with my interests. Truth be told, when I took the SecureWorld job I envisioned myself with the company for a year or two; but life happens.

It’s no secret I’m sentimental. Anytime my life changes, I feel sadness as I experience the chapter closing. SecureWorld was my very first “grown-up” job out of college. I was so excited to get paid vacations, PTO, and not wait tables on the weekends and holidays.

This company saw me through buying my very first home. My daughter’s middle school and high school graduations, and her acceptance into the University of Oregon.

This company saw me through a pregnancy, and the first years of my son’s life from infant, to toddler, and now preschooler.

This company saw me through loss; loss of loved pets, dear friends, and family. For some people on my team, we were a witness to each other’s lives for nearly seven years. That’s a lot of life stages and transitions.

I have so many happy memories of traveling for work conferences, holiday parties, and Friday bar cart trivia. Some of my colleagues watched me jump out of a tree into a lake, learn all important skills like curling, lawn bowling, glass blowing, archery, and fly fishing at company outings. Everyone endured my recycling and composting presentations, and single use plastics shaming.

I grew so much with this company; learning new technologies, skills, and ways to communicate. I learned to advocate for myself and ask for what I wanted and deserved. I learned to work with a wide array of personalities, how to find work/life balance in the past four years working mostly remotely, and how to juggle managing several different projects and tasks every day while marketing to 17 regional conferences across North America.

To my colleagues: I will miss all the silly banter and serious life conversations. Thank you for all the encouraging words, teaching me new skills and technologies, and sharing nearly seven years (some of you) with me.

For those of you staying with the company, I wish you success. I never had a true passion for “cybersecurity,” but I know we had a good thing going, and it felt great to be a part of something that our audience absolutely loved.

For my fellow colleagues moving on like me, I wish you the very best. Good luck finding something you LOVE! Whether it’s a new job, going back to school, or adventuring…follow your heart.

I believe 2020 is asking us to contemplate what truly matters, grow and stretch; which is often uncomfortable, but this is the space where magic happens. I’m wiping the sentimental tears away; ready and excited for the next chapter!

I appreciated the opportunity to try many new things while
working for SecureWorld – farewell.

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  

The Necessary Struggle

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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.