Building Relationships to Advance My Career: Jenna Hudson’s Job Search Story

Everyone’s job search story is different, but each individual story can inspire countless careers. We share the stories of job seekers’ successes to inspire you in your own career, get ideas for new approaches, and to help us all better understand the local job market! 

Meet Jenna Hudson. Jenna’s search relied heavily on to volunteering, relationship building, and perseverance. Here’s Jenna’s story.

What do you do in your job?

I work for St. John’s Main Street, a small, new, and neighborhood-based nonprofit. In this position, I fully embody the “multiple hats” job description. Those different hats are all focused on building a diverse and just St. Johns neighborhood, where everyone has access to affordable housing, benefits from economic opportunity, and is civically engaged in the neighborhood. My main focus is on strengthening our local workforce by connecting residents to living-wage jobs and community building projects. [Editor’s note: Jenna is no longer with St. John’s Main Street. Learn about her newest career adventure on her LinkedIn profile.]

How long did it take you to find this job?

I moved to Portland at the end of 2014, so technically, about a year and a half. I wasn’t actively job searching the entire time, so I would say seven to eight months of active searching.

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

I wish I could say there was a specific tool that I used to find this job, but it actually came down to volunteering, relationship building, and perseverance. I started volunteering with the organization soon after I moved to Portland because it was a way to get involved in my new neighborhood and my skills were easily transferrable.

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I had been volunteering with the St. Johns Main Street for almost a year when a sudden opening became available and I approached the Executive Director about my interest in the position.

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

Perseverance. Moving to Portland without a professional job prospect and no real ties, I had to navigate the job world, build the networks, and figure out how my skills and work experience could be used here. I also had to educate myself about the sectors and opportunities in Portland and how to connect with them.

There were plenty of  “no’s,” a couple of almost wins, and a lot of silence. I had to learn to be nice to myself and take breaks from job searching every now and then. I stopped searching and applying for two months around the holidays so I could re-energize and enjoy time with family and friends. I even took week-long breaks throughout the entire process and would treat myself to a nice dinner, concert, or outing as a way to care for my mental state.

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

Besides keeping steadfast notes on the jobs you apply to and their progress, I would say put in the time to build relationships–it was key to my job search, even if I didn’t get an offer. Attend networking events, meet with friends of friends, get involved in things as a way to build connections to future opportunities. The relationships I built helped make connections within organizations, helped me learn about the job market in Portland, and even gave me a group of people that were cheering me on from the sidelines.

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And, throughout all of it, be kind to yourself.

Why do you love your job?

The St. Johns neighborhood is important to me. It felt a little bit like home when I moved, so I enjoy working in the neighborhood. I get to work with great residents, small business owners, and other organizations that are so passionate about the neighborhood. And finally, I see the work that St. Johns Main Street does as being holistic neighborhood development. By working in the areas of affordable housing, workforce development, small business support, and community building, I get to engage in collaborative work that crosses different sectors to build a sustainable and unique St. Johns.

You can contact Jenna on LinkedIn and Facebook, or by leaving a comment below!