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! In this job search success story, Mona Schwartz, the Policy Advisor for the Office of Commissioner Carmen Rubio, shares how she found her role by building a strong network and conducting informational interviews.
What do you do for a career?
I have worked in policy, campaigns, and nonprofits. I work in the social justice field more broadly and am committed to working in support of the community.
Who do you work for?
I currently work for Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio.
How did you find your job?
I met Commissioner Rubio through mutual friends in the community and interviewed for a position as her campaign manager and have been working for her since!
What resources did you use?
My network and community. Friends and colleagues have been the most helpful resource for finding new job opportunities as well as offering advice and mentorship throughout new jobs.
What tool or tactic helped the most?
Having an open mind and being willing and excited to learn and try new things. And building a strong network around you!
What was the most difficult part of your job search?
Initially breaking into the Portland job market. I moved here from Montana in 2016 and only knew a few people in the city.
How did you overcome this challenge?
Lots of informational interviews! I reached out to many folks my first year in Portland to sit down for coffee and learn about their work and how they got to their positions. I gained a lot of helpful advice and met some incredible people, many of whom I’m still in touch with or now work with. I was lucky to connect with some women who became strong mentors to me. I try to support other women trying to get into political work by opening doors that may not be visible without connections or experience.
What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?
Don’t be afraid to cold call or email people you’re inspired by! I was surprised by the number of people that got back to me and were excited to offer advice. And ask each person you meet with for a couple of recommendations of people to talk to.
Why do you love your job?
I work with a fantastic team to better the lives of Portlanders on a daily basis. It’s challenging, rewarding, highly focused on problem-solving, and I’m constantly learning.
Mona has worked in Oregon politics and nonprofits for the last several years. She most recently worked as a campaign manager for Commissioner Rubio, Lynn Peterson (Metro Council President), and the Portland Children’s Levy renewal, along with working on communications for Governor Brown’s reelection campaign. Prior to that, Mona worked as a job coach at the Immigrant Refugee Community Organization, and spent several months in Peru volunteering with the Federacion Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas.