Staying Resilient and Bouncing Back from Rejection: Karrisa Barrera’s Job Search Success Story

Karrisa Barrera spent three months trying to find the right job position for her next move. She had an upcoming trip to Europe on the horizon and a decision to make: should she keep her current job or put in her notice before securing a new job? Karrisa decided to put in her notice and with some strategic outreach, she was able to secure a new position after she returned from her European travels. Get Karrisa’s advice on how she stayed resilient and overcame rejection in this job search success story.

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

I am a marketing professional in the tech field. I recently started working at the local Portland tech startup, NurseGrid. We’re a company founded by nurses with a mission focused on our belief that those who do the most important work deserve the best technology. NurseGrid provides a free mobile app for nurses and other healthcare professionals that streamlines and simplifies their hectic schedules and communication.

We help nurse managers save time with our staff and schedule management software, NurseGrid Manager. It’s very typical for nurse managers to spend hours managing schedules with spreadsheets, paper, calls, and even text messages. By using our software, they’re able to get time back to spend with patients and their staff.

How long did it take you to find this job?

I was looking to expand my professional experience about three months before leaving my last job at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. During this time, I applied to various positions and had initial interviews, however, none of them were the right fit. I also decided that I wanted to take a longer break in-between jobs than the typical 1-2 weeks and do some traveling. So, I decided to take a gamble, and put my notice in before finding a new position. It worked out in my favor, as I got an interview with NurseGrid my second to last day at Aruba. They offered me the position a few weeks later and I started after I returned from traveling in Europe.

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

In Portland, there are so many resources for folks looking for a new position, career change or networking opportunities. There are job boards, networking events, mentorship programs, and more. I highly recommend folks take advantage of these opportunities to grow their personal and professional network.

I started attending networking events during my junior year of college, shortly after accepting a marketing internship at Aruba. That year I also attended my first PDX Women in Tech (PDXWIT) event. I was amazed at the safe and supporting environment and started volunteering as their Social Media Coordinator.

My internship at Aruba continued to be extended until I graduated college. Upon graduation, I accepted a position on the marketing team as a Communication Manager and my volunteer position moved into a leadership position as the nonprofit continued to grow. Networking and securing an internship both helped to jumpstart my early career.

Through my networking and involvement, I learned about the marketing position at NurseGrid before it was posted online. I ran into Elana Silverman, a fellow PDXWIT member at an Out in Tech event. I mentioned my fascination for the combination of technology and health and she let me know about a marketing position that would be opening up soon.

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

For me, the most difficult part of a job search is the rejection. I can get really fixated on a job and company and take it personally when I learn they choose to not move forward with bringing me into the interview process, or extend an offer to someone else. However, over time I have found that those jobs truly weren’t right for me. Sometimes job rejections truly are blessing in disguise.

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The whole job search process truly is a learning experience. If one opportunity doesn’t work out, take what you’ve learned from the experience and tweak your resume, cover letter, interview performance, etc. and leverage that for the future.

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

I have a short list:

  • Networking is key – Having a professional and supportive community is crucial.
  • Don’t underestimate your skills or ability to learn new skills you may not have yet.
  • Apply to the job even if you don’t have all the qualifications! Women are statistically less likely to apply for a position if they don’t have all the qualifications listed than men. Apply to the job anyway and tell them why you’re excited to learn the new skills.
  • Have someone review your resume and cover letter – there are several resume building workshops in Portland.
  • Get a mentor! It can be someone you work with, a family friend, professor, or look into mentoring programs or events. PDXWIT has a great Mentorship Program.

Why do you love your job?

I love my job because I am working for a company that is value-driven and I’m surrounded by hardworking people who truly want to transform healthcare for the better. We’re advocates for nurses and create technology that helps manage their hectic schedules, resulting in better patient care.