Bringing Your Authentic Self To Work: Meghan Prichard’s Job Search Success Story

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Find Your Dream Job, Bonus Episode 44:

Bringing Your Authentic Self To Work: Meghan Prichard’s Job Search Success Story

Airdate: September 13, 2021

Mac Prichard: 

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

One of the best ways to get good at job hunting is to talk to people who do it well. 

That’s why once a month, I interview a Mac’s List reader who found a job they love. 

Our guest today is Meghan Prichard. She’s the marketing strategist at Ride Report. It’s a mission-driven technology startup that makes transportation better for all community members. 

Meghan Prichard believes in the power of authenticity.  

In a story you can find on the Mac’s List website, Meghan says if you want to bring your authentic self to work, you need to do the same in your job search. 

Meghan, why do you love your job? 

Meghan Prichard:

I love my job because it’s so focused on the strengths that I have. You know I’ve had a lot of different jobs in the past where I either had to do a lot of things that I knew I wasn’t good at or kind of got pushed into particular roles that I wasn’t as interested in, and I think Ride Report does a really amazing job of taking the strengths that each of us brings to the table and really empowering us to use those. So I do marketing at Ride Report, but I also am able to help sometimes with some of our, like, more employee-focused programs or our DEI work. Because we’re a start-up, we’re quite small, so I really enjoy the fact that I can have my hands in a lot of different things beyond just doing marketing. 

Mac Prichard: 

How did you learn about the job at Ride Report, Meghan? 

Meghan Prichard:

So I found out about PDX Women in Tech a couple of months before I applied for this job. I was starting to get back into networking again in 2019, went to the PDX Women in Tech event, and I just thought it was one of the nicest networking events I’ve ever been to. People approached me and asked me what kind of thing I was looking for next, and were just really friendly and super helpful. And I thought, “Okay, this is an organization that I want to continue to be a part of,” and then about, yeah, a month later, I was on their Slack channel, and I see someone posting about Ride Report and this particular job, and I thought, “Okay, this is my chance to get back out there again,” and I applied because the job description both really spoke to me, and the employee handbook that the company had put together really resonated with me as well. So that’s how I found out about it, through Slack, and I’ve been here ever since. 

Mac Prichard: 

 I’m glad you brought up PDX Women in Tech. It’s a great organization here in Portland, Oregon. 

I’m curious. I know many people are – they’re not comfortable networking and going to networking events. Do you have any tips, Meghan, for how to find a friendly networking event, likely to have the experience that you had at PDX Women in Tech? 

Meghan Prichard:

Yeah, I could really relate to both sides of that. I think I was a lot better at networking when I was straight out of college and really looking for those first few jobs, and now, definitely, I find them a bit more challenging.

I would say one thing that actually really helped me with the PDX Women in Tech event is that I went with a friend,  and we both said, “We’ll go together, so we’ll have each other as support. But we’ll also be willing to branch out and have separate conversations.” 

So that gave me some good confidence, at least once I found an event. But I just sign up for a lot of different newsletters that are local to here and ask lots of different people that I meet, “Hey, what kind of events are you going to?” Of course, this is all different because it was before the pandemic. So I do acknowledge it’s a little harder to find events that are as helpful when you’re doing it all digitally. But I still think, even an organization like PDX Women in Tech, I’ve been to a few of their online events, and those still have been extremely helpful. But yeah, I would just say, asking lots of people, and I think, you know, that comes to some people more easily than to others. But just bringing that up in conversations with your peers and with your friends and asking what kind of supportive spaces that they’ve been in is really helpful.    

Mac Prichard: 

And speaking of networking, I also want to acknowledge that we share the same last name, but we’re actually not related, in case anyone’s wondering.

Though to your networking superpowers, I also just want to acknowledge that I think we’re such networkers that you and I and another person named Prichard sought each other out and had lunch because we had that same bond in Portland Oregon. 

Meghan Prichard:

Yeah, that’s right. I was so excited to meet another Prichard who is willing to meet a total stranger Prichard at – we met, I think maybe a few months after I moved to Portland. So yeah, it’s been kind of fun to have our little Prichard club of unrelated Prichards. 

Mac Prichard: 

But I do think for a listener that when there is a common bond, whether you went to the same university, or you’re from maybe the same town, or there’s some connection, that can provide an introduction and even open doors, can’t it? 

Meghan Prichard:

Absolutely, yeah. I, at my last job, became really good friends with someone just randomly because we found out we both went to the same university, and because I went to the University of North Carolina, I don’t encounter a ton of those people out here in Portland. So we immediately had that connection and were able to build a really nice collegiate bond really quickly because of that. So yeah, I totally agree. Looking for those common bonds.

Another one for me is food. So if I see someone expressing an interest in trying new restaurants or anything like that, that’s always a fun way to connect, too. 

Mac Prichard: 

At the job at Ride Report, you saw it on the Portland Women in Tech Slack channel. When you looked at that posting, how did you know it was the right position for you? What was it about it that attracted you? 

Meghan Prichard:

One thing I really love that I’ve been seeing more of in job listings in the last few years is this layout of, “Here’s what we expect to happen within one month, three months, and six months.” And Ride Report had done that, and to me, it just gives a really clear outlook about what to expect, and of course, at any place like those things are gonna evolve, and in particular, I have a non-profit background but also the same goes for a startup. Those things are gonna change, but at least you kind of have an idea coming in that, “Okay, these are the kind of expectations they have in place. Does this align with my interests and where I want my career to go?” 

So there was that piece, the job description, and then, the open-source employee handbook that I just happened to read through because it was in the job description, and I thought, “Yes, this is the kind of place I want to be at next. A place that has been extremely thoughtful about how the company is being built, how it’s growing, and how they’re putting work into different diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.” All of that was really clearly laid out, and it just seemed like a company that cared a lot about its employees, and that was really important to me. 

Mac Prichard: 

In your article for us, you also mentioned, and this is related, that transparency was really important to you. What does transparency look like to you when you look for work, Meghan? 

Meghan Prichard:

Well, to be frank, number one is definitely a transparent salary or salary range. Of course, it’s still a job, and at the end of the day, you want to make sure you’re getting compensated fairly for that job, and in some places, you don’t find that stuff out until the very end. And I’ve had situations where I got pretty far and then found out what the salary was and was disappointed. 

So one of the things that I liked about Ride Report was that not only are the salaries transparent, and you know exactly what the salary is going into the role because they’ve done a bunch of competitive analyses and analyses of different regions and what they’re paying, and they try to make sure they’re offering at, I think, like, the top 25% percentile of that job. 

So yeah, I think that was something that stood out immediately, and then, just in general, around the different benefits they offered. All of that was really clearly laid out. It wasn’t something that was kind of sprung upon me at the end, and that’s when I would, you know, find out, “Oh, there’s only ten vacation days,” or what have you. So that was huge to me, that it was all not only accessible to me, but it’s accessible to anyone. Anyone could go to their employee handbook right now and read through it, and I think that’s just something that I hope to see a lot of other companies start doing.  

Mac Prichard: 

In your search, did you look at other employers, and were they as transparent as Ride Report? 

Meghan Prichard:

Well, I got very lucky because this is actually the only job that I applied for, exceptionally lucky. But in other, yeah, I would say it’s the most transparent I’ve ever seen a job description, and I’ve never seen a handbook like that before. Now granted again, I come from a nonprofit background, so I think I’ve seen at least a lot more tech companies that are doing that kind of thing—making that kind of information really accessible. But no, I’ve not seen that level of transparency in another job listing before. 

Mac Prichard: 

Another value that you mentioned in your article that’s very important to you is bringing your authentic self to work. Why do you think that this is important to do, Meghan? 

Meghan Prichard:

Well, I certainly think it makes work more enjoyable, for one. I talk a lot, and I have a lot of strong opinions, and I really like to be able to be at a workplace where I feel like it’s a safe space to be my complete self and be my authentic self, and I also recognize there’s, for sure, a level of privilege in that. But I think if you can find a place like Ride Report that actually really encourages that, it’s really amazing. I feel like I’ve blossomed a lot in my time here because I’ve been able to say, not only, “Hey, I’d like to do this,” and been supported in it, but also, “Hey, I don’t agree with this,” and to have that be heard is really meaningful, and it’s not something that I’ve always experienced in the past. And yeah, I think it just makes things more pleasant, and if you’re gonna come to a job, it’s nice to be able to not have to do too much, you know, switching between your work persona and your personal life persona.

Mac Prichard: 

One way you sort of shared your authentic self that you mentioned in the article is by putting a cupcake on your resume. Tell us about that, Meghan. 

Meghan Prichard:

Yeah, for a long time, I had just like a stock image of a cupcake on my resume because I’d entered and won a cupcake baking competition back when I lived in Chapel Hill. So I had a graphic designer friend who said, “Well, let me make a resume for you,” and she just happened to stick a cupcake on it. Which I really appreciated, and I have to admit when she first did it, I thought, “Ugh, this is not professional. I’m only gonna send people the other version.” 

And then, I don’t know, a few applications in, and this is when I was about to graduate from college, I said, “You know what? I only want to work at a place that accepts me for the cupcake.” So from that point on, I only ever applied for jobs with the resume that had a cupcake. I don’t use that resume anymore, but yeah, I think it’s a perfect example of bringing that authentic self to a job application process. And in fact, I can’t tell you of one time when I used that resume and got an interview that someone didn’t bring it up in a positive way. So I actually think in hindsight, it probably helped me stand out in a lot of ways. 

Mac Prichard: 

You got positive reactions, and what did that lead to? Did people have their own cupcake stories? What happened next? 

Meghan Prichard:

Well, everyone loves cupcakes. I think that was really the key to it is people were – well, one, people are always excited when they find out they may hire someone who knows how to bake. So that’s a huge one, and also, I think it just said, “Hey, here I am, with this unique-looking resume. I can also bring a unique perspective to this job.” 

So yeah, I would say for most people, it was just having – just like what we were talking about earlier, that point of connection, that shared, “Oh, we have this in common,” even if it’s something as basic as cupcakes. 

Mac Prichard: 

And while you’ve stopped putting cupcakes on your resume, you did something different with the resume that got you the job that led to the job at Ride Report, talk about that. 

Meghan Prichard:

Yeah, well, it was actually during the application process. I had my in-person interviews, and my – the person who would be my manager asked me to do a presentation, like, “The Story of Meghan Prichard.”

So I was trying to think of how to establish, you know, who I’ve been and who I am now, and I was a very confident child, and I have this picture of myself that I scrapbooked that says, and I look very dorky in it; I think I must have been in like fifth grade, growing out from a bowl cut, and it says, “Number one girl of the world.” And that’s what I had written on the picture, and so I happened to share that in my interview process, and I think that, for whatever reason, put things over the edge for me. People really liked it. That, you know, kind of fifth grade Meghan was advocating for current Meghan. I’ve always had that confidence, and I think they liked seeing that I was willing to be both confident and a little vulnerable in sharing a picture that was pretty silly. 

Mac Prichard: 

Well, that’s a wonderful story.

Is there anything that didn’t work in your job search? 

Meghan Prichard:

I would say something that hasn’t worked for me is when I don’t put that personality into an application. When I do, kind of, that more generic, especially with a cover letter, a “Hello,” you know, “to whom it may concern,” and then, kind of, go into a fairly generic response style. That’s when I have not heard back. It’s when I put a little bit more time and personalization into my outreach that I have had the most success. But, you know, sometimes I just also chalk it up to, it just wasn’t the right time, or it wasn’t the right fit, and I try not to take it too personally, at the same time that of course, I’m often presenting my very authentic self. But I always tell myself, if it’s not the right job for me, then we need to kind of suss that out on both ends. So if they don’t like me, then that’s probably not a good fit of a job for me either.  

Mac Prichard: 

Well, finally, Meghan, what’s your number one job hunting tip? 

Meghan Prichard:

I think it’s the common thread we’ve talked about this whole episode, which is just bringing that authentic self, not just to your work but also to the job application process before it. And I think just making sure people know really clearly who you are and what you bring to the table makes a huge difference in the process and ultimately leads to a job where you feel a lot more satisfied.

Mac Prichard: 

Well, thanks for sharing your story, Meghan. To learn more about Meghan Prichard’s job search, visit macslist.org/stories.  

And check out the Mac’s List website for dozens of other success stories. 

On the second Friday of every month, we add a new interview with a Mac’s List reader who has found a dream job.  Go to macslist.org/stories.

In the meantime, thank you for listening to today’s bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job. 

We often hear about the importance of authenticity in the workplace. But how can you show your authentic self at work if you haven’t shown it during the application and interview process? Do you want a job that forces you to be one person at work and another in your personal life? On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Meghan Prichard shares how she added her unique personality to her resume and the positive feedback she got from doing so. Meghan also explains how she used her personal interests and common bonds with others to develop her professional network. Learn more about Meghan’s career history below in this installment of our Success Stories series.


What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?

Up until my current job, I worked exclusively at and with nonprofit organizations doing digital marketing. I’ve written for and managed websites, social media accounts, SEO, email campaigns, and everything in between.

I still do all of that (and more), but now I’m at a mission-driven technology startup called Ride Report. We’re focused on making transportation better for all community members. 

How long did it take you to find this job?

I had been looking casually for a few months, but this job is the first one where I felt compelled to actually apply. 

How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?

I attended my first PDX Women in Tech event in November and left feeling really empowered. It’s not something I normally would’ve gone to since I consider myself a marketing person and not a tech person. But I met so many generous people! A few weeks later, I was scrolling through the PDXWIT Slack channel when I came across the listing, which was posted by my current boss.

Reading the position description, which explicitly outlined the desired skill set and outcomes of the first few months of employment, spoke to the strategist in me. The culture they described in the open source employee guide — and throughout the interview process — spoke to the advocate in me. The fit just felt right; I relied heavily on my gut feeling during this process. 

What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?

I’ve become increasingly frustrated by places that advertise their transparency and equity efforts while continuing to list salaries as “based on experience.” There is adequate evidence that not listing salaries perpetuates inequality. I wanted to see transparency from the start, so I decided not to apply for any of those roles, which definitely reduced my options. I also recognize the privilege inherent in being picky. 

What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?

If you want to be able to bring your authentic self to your work, bring it to your application process, too. For a long time I had a cupcake on my resume because I was also a baker, which was a fun icebreaker for potential employers. During my interview at Ride Report, I shared a silly childhood photo of myself that I had captioned “#1 girl of the world.” 10-year-old Meghan ended up sealing the deal for adult Meghan.

Why do you love your job?

I love my job because I get to contribute to a reimagining of public spaces that are more sustainable, efficient, and people-friendly. Given the state of the world, it’s exciting to channel my energy into something that’s actionable and important. I also feel appreciated and supported as both an employee and a person with a life outside of work.