Changing Industries in A New City: Amy Chu’s Job Search Success Story

Contemplating a career change that would require you to move industries? Amy Chu faced this decision when she relocated from the Bay Area to Portland, Oregon. Amy had to decide if she wanted to continue working in the technology sector, or pursue a community-driven job with a nonprofit organization. Amy made a decision to pursue a job that serves the community and informed her network of her intentions. After a three month search, Amy landed a job with Sisters of the Road, an organization dedicated to ending poverty and homelessness forever by providing accessible, nourishing meals in a safe, dignified space. Read Amy’s success story to discover what resources she used in her search, how she overcome challenges, and what strategies were most effective.

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

I am the Data and Information Administrator for Sisters of the Road, a nonprofit Cafe in the Old Town neighborhood working to create systemic change that will end poverty and homelessness forever by providing accessible, nourishing meals in a safe, dignified space.

How long did it take you to find this job?

It took me about three months of active job searching to find my current job. I made it clear while I was job hunting that I was looking for meaningful work, and many people I knew in Portland suggested I apply at Sisters of the Road. Fortunately for me, they had an open position which I applied for and was invited in for an interview.

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

I found the job on the Sisters of the Road employment web page through word-of-mouth recommendations. I was also using Mac’s List, PDX Pipeline, LinkedIn Jobs, and recruitment agencies. Scheduling informational interviews with nonprofit professionals I found on LinkedIn helped me build a support network and learn more about the nonprofit sector.

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

Deciding whether moving into the nonprofit sector would be the right transition for me after working in the technology sector was tough. Job hunting in Portland is also very different from job hunting in the Bay Area. The technology sector is smaller, and the creative and nonprofit sectors are more prevalent.

I overcame this challenge by reading Mac Prichard’s book “Land Your Dream Job in Portland (and Beyond)” while cultivating a support network. The book identified job boards I had never heard of, local nonprofit networking groups, and much more. I also landed more phone and in-person interviews once I started tailoring my cover letter and resume to each position that caught my interest.

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

Figure out what you are looking for in your next job and request informational interviews with individuals who have similar jobs.

Why do you love your job?

My job requires me to be the database expert, responsible for the input, tracking, and reporting of data related to revenue, as well as generating tax and gift acknowledgements. This is befitting because I enjoy working with software, analyzing data, and making sure the data is accurate. I also enjoy providing database training and support to our volunteers and staff because I like helping others learn new things.

Last but not least, I believe that working towards building authentic relationships and alleviating the hunger of isolation in an atmosphere of nonviolence and gentle personalism that nurtures the whole individual, while seeking systemic solutions that reach the roots of homelessness and poverty to end them forever is a worthy mission.

Food insecurity is a huge problem, particularly for folks experiencing extreme poverty and/or homelessness. Sisters has been working alongside Portland’s unhoused community to increase access to nourishing food in a dignified and community-oriented space since 1979.

In addition to the Cafe and our Food Justice programming, our Systemic Change Team works to organize to address the threatening inequities our customer community faces daily. Sisters is a founding member of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (W.R.A.P), and we continue to organize in support of the Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign to decriminalize houselessness.