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 success story, Elizabeth Lattanner examines how the power of relationships and networking led her to a position with Portland General Electric.
What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?
The bulk of my career so far has been in communications for federal elected officials and campaigns in Washington, D.C. and Indiana. When my husband and I decided to move to Portland, I decided to leave the political sector, but wanted to remain in advocacy-related communications for good. I searched for a communications position at a values-driven company or nonprofit organization, ultimately deciding to join the external corporate communications team at PGE.
How long did it take you to find this job?
I arrived in Portland in early September and accepted the position with PGE right before Christmas.
How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?
I am a big believer in the power and value of relationships. Before I moved to Portland, I met with my colleagues in Washington, D.C. who worked for Oregon’s federal elected officials and asked for recommendations as I started my in-person networking in Portland. During my nearly four-month search, I met with approximately 125 people in the Portland area who were kind enough to take the time to have coffee and informational conversations. It was helpful to hear how those folks got their start in Portland, how they found their current positions, and what advice they could share about navigating the job search. Learning about each person and their background allowed me not only to meet dozens of people making a difference in this community, but also helped me to identify organizations to target in my search. The one question I asked everyone I met with was: Who are the people and what are the organizations that stand out to you doing impactful, important work? From there, I met more and more people in Portland doing innovative work for good and found the opening at PGE. When I saw the opening on LinkedIn and decided to apply, I asked folks I had met along the way for their feedback about the company and the team and was pleased to hear the company had a reputation as both an industry leader and hyper-engaged in the community. As I went through the interview process, I was impressed by the people on the team I would be joining and their vision for the company’s future and determined PGE was the best next opportunity for me.
What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?
As I was attempting to switch sectors, my biggest challenge was identifying and articulating how my political and policy skills from years in Washington, D.C. and on campaigns would transfer to a corporate or nonprofit environment. The informational conversations I had with fellow communicators here in Portland in the corporate and non-profit sectors, as well as particular episodes of the Mac’s List Find Your Dream Job podcast, were extremely helpful in that effort, and I learned new jargon and ways to relate my previous work to a new sector.
What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?
I will offer two: First, be kind to yourself. A job search can be a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and it can be difficult to see past the most immediate disappointment or frustration to the happy ending of landing your next opportunity. Second, meet with anyone you can. I never turned down an email introduction or contact information for a new person to meet with. I met dozens of dynamic, fascinating people along the way who were both helpful in offering feedback as I applied for actual openings and in helping me identify the people and places I wanted to work for. I hope many of my informational interviews will lead to future colleagues and friends.
Why do you love your job?
I get to continue to tell stories that make a difference. I am part of a high-performing team at a company that is firmly rooted in the community and is driven to lead the region and the nation on some of the most pressing issues of our time: carbon reduction, transportation electrification, energy efficiency, and much more.