The Power of Informational Interviews: Natalie O’Grady’s Job Search Story

Navigating a new job market as a new graduate can be daunting. One place to start is by setting up informational interviews. Natalie O’Grady found that informational interviews helped uncover new career opportunities, plus she was able to grow her networking skills and cultivate valuable relationships for her career. As a new resident of Portland, Oregon, Natalie said sitting down with potential employers was incredibly worthwhile, even if some of those conversations did not lead directly to a job offer. Read on for Natalie’s job search advice, insights on the Portland community, and more.

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

I work for A.wordsmith, a boutique PR firm in Portland.

My job encompasses media outreach, social media management, influencer marketing, content development and thought leadership development for a clients in consumer, B2B and nonprofit industries.

How long did it take you to find this job?

I moved to Portland in early 2015. My then-boyfriend, now-husband had gotten a job here and I started searching for jobs as soon as I found out I was moving. It took me around 8 months to find the role I have now, and I started in September 2015.

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

I quickly realized that browsing around Indeed and other sites likely wasn’t giving me the full picture of opportunities. Being from out of state, I was completely clueless about the Portland market and PR community.

I started Googling “public relations agencies in Portland” and began sending out emails to see if I could get a few informational interviews. I met several great people this way, but none of their agencies currently had openings that fit. Through these Google searches, I eventually stumbled across a link to a listing on Mac’s List. I was so relieved to find a job search site that was locally focused, and allowed me to search for PR jobs specifically!

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I found an A.wordsmith job posting on Mac’s List for an account manager role, which I didn’t quite qualify for at the time. However, I sent an informational interview request to the President, Ann Smith, and she had me come in for an interview. Luckily for me, they were also in need of someone at my level.

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

The most difficult part was learning to understand the Portland market specifically as a brand new graduate and brand new Oregonian. Setting up informational interviews with agencies, even those that weren’t hiring, was extremely helpful in starting to network in a new area.

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

Set up informational interviews, even if you don’t think they’ll lead to a position! You’re still networking, making valuable connections for down the road, and gaining insight into your local industry. It’s also great practice for actual job interviews!

Why do you love your job?

As a small agency, we get to work with a huge variety of clients and we all get to work together on at least one account. It’s an amazing feeling to come up with a campaign idea, get the client on board, do the outreach, secure a placement and see it publish – and manage the whole thing from start to finish!