Why should you pay attention to the job market if you aren’t looking for a new job? On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Bridget Bimrose shares why she continued to network and look at job boards while happy in her career. Bridget says she wasn’t expecting her dream job to pop up on one of those job boards. But when it did, she was ready to apply. Bridget also explains how she determined her non-negotiables and campaigned for them. Learn more about Bridget’s career history below in this installment of our Success Stories series.
Find Your Dream Job, Bonus Episode 66:
Staying Open and Curious: Bridget Bimrose’s Job Search Success Story
Airdate: July 3, 2023
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 Bridget Bimrose.
She’s the associate dean of admission communications and special projects at Reed College. It’s a private liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon.
Bridget Bimrose believes in the power of paying attention to the job market.
She wasn’t thinking of leaving her small business when Reed College advertised it was hiring an associate dean.
But in a story you can find on the Mac’s List website, Bridget says it’s always a good practice to know who is hiring.
Why do you love your job, Bridget?
Gosh, there’s so many ways to answer that question. But I will say about my current role at Reed College is that, in some ways, it’s a culmination of what I’ve always wanted in a job, in a career. I work with a high-producing team. There’s lots of industry veterans, people who have been around for a long time that are great in a crisis that help triage.
But there’s also a lot of newly minted people, fresh employees, students, who are young and curious, and I think there’s a great juxtaposition there. So I love the team, the people that I work with, and I think I hear that often, and it’s true.
I also really believe in mission-driven work and in education. I’ve benefited from those things myself, and it’s Reed. I’m so proud to be affiliated with the brand and with the institution. I mean, I could go on and on. I’m just so lucky to be at a place that aligns with my values and also allows me to work with a talented team in a beautiful place.
Great. Well, let’s talk about your job search, Bridget. Now, you weren’t looking for a new position, but you heard about this opportunity through Mac’s List, actually. And why did you sign up for our newsletter if you weren’t looking to change positions?
So I am very, I’m social. I’m a social creature. And so I enjoy networking events, and I enjoy meeting new people. I’ve always been very curious. As a child, my family moved around, and so we were always in different places, and I loved learning about new cultures and new people. So I’m naturally a networker, and I enjoy learning about different businesses and different people.
And so I wasn’t actively looking for a job, but I go to networking events and Mac, you were at the networking event, and you were so friendly and welcoming. Your reputation did precede you; when I saw your name tag, I was like, oh my gosh, Mac Prichard is at this seven-thirty-AM coffee and muffin networking event.
And there’s always different topics and conversations that the folks who attend at Multnomah Athletic Club have, and sometimes we veer off-topic, and sometimes there’s new people who are looking for work, and there’s people who are unemployed, or folks who are just getting ideas on management styles. And so I was so excited to have you there and just to meet you.
And that’s what led me to sign up for Mac’s List because I realized it wasn’t just job searching, which is super important. But there was different industry insight, and there were different contributors. There were men. There were women. People of color from different industries. And as someone who’s naturally curious and always interested in the job market, which is just good business, I think in general, I thought, ooh, I want to sign up next for this newsletter. I want to know what’s going on.
And so, I signed up, and I loved getting the newsletters. I loved checking the website, and I started actively checking in on Mac’s List, and seeing what success stories they were sharing, what advice they were giving.
And then, this position at Reed College, as an Associate Dean of Admission Communications, kept popping up, and I thought to myself, wow, that’s the kind of title and role I’ve always wanted, and I’d get other information as well. But it kept popping up. I kept checking, and it led me to apply, and I was so nervous.
But that’s how I found this job, was through Mac’s List. I owe it to the newsletter, to all of the content that you produce thoughtfully. And that’s why I’m here. That’s how I got my job.
Well, terrific, and I’m grateful that you did sign up for the newsletter, and I do remember meeting you at that networking event at the Multnomah Athletic Club.
I’m curious, Bridget, how did you combine your networking habits? Is it something that came to you later in your career? How did you learn how to do this? And the importance of going out and talking with people and attending events and the like?
Well, like I mentioned before, I am a social creature. I like meeting new people. And during the pandemic, it was really difficult for me because I was at home a lot, and Zoom fatigue was very real, and prior to the pandemic, I was always out. I was always going to new places, and in some ways, my background, I didn’t know about a lot of positions or careers growing up, not because I had a wonderful childhood. But I just knew more about traditional roles, and I never saw myself in a business environment.
And so, I first learned about a lot of opportunities and things that I love by going to different networking events, and sometimes it was awkward, and no one would talk to me. But other times, I made great connections and friends, and people who are my best friends now. So networking and meeting new people is a priority for me, and I think that came from always moving around, always being the new kid, always trying to find a place where I could maybe meet a friend or find something to do on a Thursday afternoon instead of homework.
So I’ve always been very curious. I’ve always found value in meeting new people and exposing myself to new ideas. I think that was just a part of my upbringing. But I wanted to make it a part of my lifestyle because I’m at my happiest when I’m learning new things, and I’m meeting new people, and oftentimes that inspires me. I think folks can get into a pattern of maybe negativity sometimes, and perspective is so important.
And so, as I talk a lot about networking and my childhood, meeting new people, being exposed to new ideas, and thinking about how other people do business gives you perspective. And it’s always made me a better person, personally and professionally.
So you’ve worked in both the private sector and now, you’re in higher education. Those are two very different sectors. What advice do you have, Bridget, for somebody who wants to change sectors? What’s your number one tip?
That’s a great question. I will say that I think taking a multi-disciplinary approach to your career, your education, and your life is really important. I mentioned before that I network. I serve on the board of my neighborhood association. I go to these business leaders’ networking events, and I still am very connected in higher ed.
So taking a multi-disciplinary approach to your career, to your life, your education, and staying genuinely curious about business models and career paths is really important. I think we limit ourselves when we stay in our lanes. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be an expert in something. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a technical skill. But opportunities present themselves in unexpected ways, and it’s really important to be open and adaptable. That is a skill.
And so I worked in higher ed, and it’s very different from the private sector, and I was so nervous when I was leaving higher education. I’ve only ever really worked at two places. I knew higher ed. I was comfortable in higher ed. I understood how inter-departmental communications worked.
And so, when I went to the private sector when I was working for a small business during the pandemic, it was so different. But I used so many of the skills that I had developed over time in higher education, and I was also honest about not knowing things, about asking questions. And in some ways, not being a businesswoman in theory, originally, in working in the business world, worked to my advantage because I could just ask basic questions, and I was sincere about it. I didn’t pretend to be an expert. I didn’t pretend to know all about the industry. I just asked questions, and I really tried to be adaptable and open-minded.
And so, you can work in a different industry. You can make the change from a small business to a Fortune 500 company. You can switch careers. But you have to be sincere and genuine about maybe not knowing things, and be curious and also don’t be ashamed of not knowing things, and lean into the skills that you do have.
That’s oftentimes why you’re there. They saw something in you. They saw that there was a different point of perspective that brought value to that place that has hired you. You’re there for a reason. Use your industry. Use your background. Use your skills to enhance the place that you’re working at.
You said in your story for us, Bridget, that being clear about your non-negotiables was the hardest part of your job search. Tell us more about what those non-negotiables were. And how did you get clarity about them and discuss them when you were negotiating with Reed College?
Absolutely. So negotiations are always hard. Thinking about yourself in the context of money is incredibly difficult. Whether it’s networking, whether it’s starting a new job, whether it’s just you going into the office every day, you have to think about your long-term value in the workforce. I started as a temp at the University of Portland. I sought out mentors and opportunities. I took this job in the travel industry. I kept my business afloat. I was so proud of myself.
And now, here I was in this new place, thinking about taking a new job, and I was so excited. I really wanted the opportunity. I really wanted the role, and I think, sometimes, it’s hard. It’s almost unnatural to combat and hold back when you’re aspirational, when you’re goal-oriented, when maybe you need the money. But you have to stop.
You have to take a deep breath, and you have to think about what is your everyday gonna look like. How does this impact your family? How does this impact your health? How is this gonna impact you? I have friends who will never go back into the office, and they’re honest about that, and I respect that, and I have friends who love the grind. They love getting up. They think they see value in those team meetings, and then, there’s always the hybrid model.
And it’s not just working from home. It’s thinking about other things. It’s thinking about your commute. It’s thinking about the nature of your role. If you’re a tried and trued creative and you’re taking a job that’s gonna stifle that, and that for you, creating, having control over the creative content, if that’s a deal breaker for you, you should not be somewhere where those parameters are dictated by the leadership.
So think through the things that really matter to you. And it sounds kind of hokey, like hopes and dreamsy. But if you’re thinking about your long-term value in the workforce, which is always my north star, think about the things that really matter to you because you will not be successful if you’re miserable because you have to be in the office. Because you feel stifled because creativity is a non-negotiable for you. So I can’t emphasize that enough.
For me, there were those non-negotiables. I needed to be at home one day a week. That’s my time. That’s when I do deep work. I believe in that tremendously, and you can find other ways to do that. But I was really nervous about it. But I had to be true to myself.
And then, I even did things like I got in my car and I drove to Reed College to time my commute. Just to see, what would that be like? Because spending forty-five minutes in a car going somewhere; I did that as a kid with my dad. He was up in the morning. He had to pick us up. He had to go to the office. I spent so much of my life in traffic that I didn’t want to work somewhere where I was going to spend serious time and valuable time in traffic. And when I timed the commute, I thought, gosh, this is doable.
So just thinking about those things, and those are the non-negotiables for me. But people need to be honest with themselves about what’s non-negotiable for them and how does that play into their value in the workforce.
Well, terrific. It’s been a great conversation, Bridget. Now, tell us, what’s your number one job-hunting tip?
Oh my gosh, I have so much advice to give. Let’s see.
Don’t hold back. But just pick your top one. What’s number one?
My top one? Do not limit yourself. Do not hold yourself back. So oftentimes, we get in our own way. Whether it’s dating, whether it’s applying for a job. Get in there. Worst case scenario, somebody says no.
Do not sell yourself short. Do not hold yourself back. Ask a curious question. Get out there. Try to meet people.
If you’re interested in an industry, it doesn’t even mean you have to be in it, but ask around, see if there’s relationships between the roles or the industry that you’re interested in and the things that you’re doing day-in and day-out. Skills are transferable. Hard work and work ethic is transferable to any industry.
So if you work hard, it sounds so hokey, but if you really work hard and you’re open-minded, and you want to continue to grow, don’t hold yourself back. Take the risk and think about your long-term value.
Don’t think about it right now. Don’t think about what I’m comfortable with. We have to be competitive in the workforce. All of us do. Everyone wants to save for retirement. We all have goals. Think about your finances and your value. And get in there.
It’s worked for me. I see it happen every single day, and we just have to support each other and be kind to ourselves. So be kind to yourself. Think about your long-term value in the workforce. And take chances. I promise they pay off.
Well, thank you for sharing your story, Bridget. To learn more about Bridget Bimrose’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.
This show is produced by Mac’s List.
This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.