Expanding Your Network in A New City: Rachel Shields Ebersole’s Job Search Success Story

Rachel Shields Ebersole recently relocated to the Portland area from Woodstock, Vermont. Upon arrival in Portland, Rachel did not have many professional connections in the Pacific Northwest. So she started expanding her network from the ground up, by attending networking events, volunteering for local events, and by reaching out to professionals in her industry to set up intentional coffee chats. Instead of mining these new connections for job opportunities, Rachel sought to provide help and meaning to every person she talked with, so she could build lasting relationships and solidify her network. Read on for more of Rachel’s job search advice for job seekers and anyone who’s recently moved to Portland.

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

I manage Urban Office, a co-working space in Southwest Portland with 125 members in a wide range of professions and an industrial chic vibe. The building used to be a radio station, actually. The owner, Eric Freeman, has done a great job converting the space into something that really wows everyone who walks in.

As the sole paid staff member, I do everything from unloading the dishwasher and reordering dry erase markers to long-term strategizing and introducing members to one another. It’s a big job! I’m fortunate to have a small team of work-trade members who help one day a week in exchange for membership, which helps me manage the day-to-day operations and gives them an amazing community and great space to build their businesses in. Since Urban Office is all about supporting our members’ success, it’s nice to be able to include folks just starting out all the way up to established small businesses. I’m most excited about the community and culture aspect of the job, and I’m currently dreaming up ways to host more events and workshops and the like in the space.

How long did it take you to find this job?

One month.

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

I chose “co-working space manager” as a target job, even though I was open to a ton of different possibilities, since many people had advised me that having a specific goal would ultimately yield better results than being open to anything. So I started visiting co-working spaces to see what was happening here and to chat with current co-working managers. It so happened that I scheduled a tour for Urban Office the week they were interviewing! It really was a right time, right place situation, as they had not advertised the opening. So the tactic there is to zero in on a goal and find out everything you can about that position and industry.

But, as someone totally new to Portland, the other tactic I used was attending networking meetings and volunteering for interesting events and emailing complete strangers to ask them to have coffee with me. All of that fed nicely into what would have been another great job if Urban Office hadn’t snapped me up so quickly–so I definitely would recommend that method as well.

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

It was tough to stay energetic, even though I was only on the hunt for a month. So to keep myself from burning out, I tried to make sure I was volunteering for events that I found fun and interesting and to make sure conversations with people were more meaningful than me just trying to use them to find a job.

It was also hard to keep track of all the people I talked to and all the organizations I found intriguing and all the ideas I wanted to follow up on. I decided to use HubSpot as a CRM to help me stay on top of all this and so I could learn to use a new tool. I wish I’d used it from the very beginning, before things got almost too messy to sort back out into HubSpot.

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

Get really clear on what you’re looking for. Other people will gladly help you, but it’s hard for them to do so if your stated aim is vague and amorphous.

Why do you love your job?

That’s easy — our amazing, fascinating, kind, ambitious, funny, totally impressive members!