Keep an Eye on Your Dream Organization: Shelby Danzer’s Job Search Success Story

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In this job search success story, Shelby Danzer, Associate Director of Development for the University of Oregon, shares how she fulfilled her dream of working for her alma mater.

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

I work in higher education fundraising, raising money to support academic programs and scholarships. My introduction to this field was as a phonathon caller in college at UO. Since then, I have worked in both major giving and annual giving, working with donors one-on-one and fundraising for small donations from large audiences. I currently work for the University of Oregon as an Associate Director of Development.

How long did it take you to find this job?

I only applied to this job during my job hunt. The process from application to offer took about three months, but this was the third time I had applied for a job at the University of Oregon in three years. I had known since graduating that I wanted to come back and work for my alma mater one day, so I was always looking for openings. I got in the habit of checking their website every so often, and although I wasn’t actively looking for a new job when I stumbled across this one, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by.

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

I struggled with knowing whether I even felt ready for a new job. There were many parts of my job that I really loved at my previous organization. When I ultimately gave my notice, I even cried with my boss! Change can be hard, and the job search process can be disheartening. There were points when I felt it might be easier just to stay where I was and make it work. When I accepted the offer for my current position, I still felt some uncertainty, but I had some great professional mentors who encouraged me to take a chance. This role represented a step forward in my career trajectory. Despite the anxiety that came with making a big change, I’m so glad I landed here.

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

The best piece of advice I can offer is to keep a short list of dream organizations to work for. Check their job boards a few times a year – even if you don’t plan to leave your current job any time soon. You don’t want to miss out on what could be your dream job just because the timing isn’t perfect! It can also expose you to the different types of roles available in your desired field and give you an idea of what to look for when you are in an active search. I believe that the more you keep yourself in a semi-active job search mode, the less work you will have to do when you finally do decide to make a change.

Why do you love your job?

I love working in development because it lets me utilize skills that are well-suited to a sales-oriented environment while doing mission-driven work that serves the greater good. On top of that, it is so rewarding talking to people who are passionate about their University of Oregon education and who love being involved in the UO community. I am an alum with deep ties to the university, and I couldn’t imagine a more fun job than hearing stories from folks who find community in the same place that I do.

Everyone’s job search story is different, but each individual story can inspire and empower others who are on their own unique path. We love to hear how our readers have found rewarding careers in Portland, and we want to share these stories with you to inspire you in your job search and to help us all better understand the local job market!

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