Becoming Known To Uncover New Career Avenues: Meghan Sinnott’s Job Search Success Story

Meghan Sinnott left her previous position in 2017. For over a year, Meghan dabbled in contract work, volunteering, and dedicated her time to supporting local community organizations and nonprofits. Meghan says her biggest setback was self-doubt. She had confidence in her ability to succeed, but she did not know how to convey her strengths and skills to prospective employers. Relying on the support and advocacy of career champions to help vouch for her skills and competencies helped Meghan find new career avenues. Meghan shares how her time spent dabbling in contract work helped her become known and make valuable connections in this Job Search Success Story.

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

As Director of Portland Made, I support local makers by providing networking opportunities and events to support their efforts.  Our Maker Meetups happen once a month. These events are typically in a maker space (a functioning shop). Topics covered range from social media smarts and financial literacy, to perfecting your elevator pitch and intellectual property discussions.

How long did it take you to find this job?

I resigned from my role as Global Marketing Director and Brand Manager at Nutcase Helmets in October, 2017.  Between then and February 2019, I did contract work only, accepting positions that aligned with my interests.  It was a great opportunity to work on dream projects with some of my favorite people, and through the work I gained confidence in what I could offer.  

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

I didn’t use any of the “official channels.”  After leaving my 9-5 job, I only reached out to two companies, and officially applied to only one position.  The only opportunities that panned-out were through word-of-mouth or came to me though the groundwork I’d laid with previous networking.  I tried to work with a recruiting agency, but they never sent anything my way…

My biggest recommendation is for people to volunteer and to accept a few jobs here-and-there in the name of building community, making connections, and honing skills.  During my year-plus not tethered to a desk, I took the time to focus my energy, joining boards for organizations I believe in, and sharing my marketing and community organizing expertise with local co-ops and nonprofits.

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

Simply knowing what I ought to apply for was probably the most difficult part of the hunt.  I had a severe case of “I could apply for anything, but I won’t get anything” doubts. As in — I believed I was capable of succeeding at the majority of jobs I came across, but I froze-up when it came time to selling myself.  I couldn’t put into words why I knew I would crush a certain job. In the end, it always came down to someone inside a company being my champion. I would not have gotten as far as I did without the support of people who had seen me in action and advocated for me.

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

Don’t be afraid to dabble.  What may feel like distractions or dead-end opportunities are actually often the best way to get yourself known.  Reframe your understanding of the value of contract work and volunteering so you can see the role they play in providing real-life networking opportunities that far surpass attending “meetups” with your pockets stuffed with fresh business cards…  

Why do you love your job?

I get to have my finger to the pulse of the city I love.  Every day I meet new makers and learn about new products and facets of Portland, Oregon.  Makers are at the core of what makes Portland special, and I’m lucky to get to support them.