The Power of Your Network to Drive New Career Directions, with Mariana Lindsay

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Job searching can feel difficult if you’re approaching it alone. One way to go farther in your job search is to team up with friends, coworkers, and mentors to lighten the load, get their advice, and make your job search journey more bearable. On this bonus episode of the Find Your Dream Job podcast, I chat with Mariana Lindsay (LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariana-lindsay-2582a71a/) who is the the urban rural connection coordinator at the American Leadership Forum of Oregon. Learn more about Mariana’s career and get her job search advice in her Q&A below, part of the Mac’s List Success Stories series.

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

I’m coordinator of American Leadership Forum (http://www.alforegon.org/) (ALF) of Oregon’s new Urban Rural Connection Program.

At a time when our communities and nation feel acutely divided, ALF is leading dialogue and helping foster collaboration across differences. Throughout the 30-year history of ALF Oregon, the urban-rural divide has been a part of every class and it is an issue that affects each of our local communities. Through gathering community partners, funding, and staff capacity to bring together a diverse cohort of leaders to explore what’s causing the divide and what solutions can be generated, ALF works to better understand how the divide is defined, how it impacts communities, and when the divide is used as a weapon or as a tool.

How long did it take you to find this job?

2.5 months

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

I previously spent nearly 5 years at the Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) in Portland, and served as interim Executive Director during my last year. Once we announced new Executive Director, Traci Rossi, I felt comfortable scheduling coffee with colleagues to discuss my job search and what opportunities might be available. It’s easy to get stuck in a professional bubble, so having those conversations re-opened my perspective on the types of positions and sectors available. I’ve always been a believer in reaching out to people who I’ve worked with and learned from to get their best thinking and advice. And, on the flip side, I believe in trying to always be open and ready to return the favor when they reach out. There is so much that can be learned, accomplished, and built through relationships. I think we often times are discouraged from reaching out to learn from others (see: fake it till you make it), but we can’t be perfect at everything and by asking for partnership, we give another person the chance to shine and teach.

ALF Executive Director, Kendall Clawson, has been a mentor and friend for 7 years, and we’d collaborated on projects and shared more time over coffee than I can count. Our history meant we’d developed a good sense of each other’s passions and professional backgrounds. She approached me about the new Urban Rural project and it being a fit for my skillset. I applied, and was fortunate enough to get the job, partly in thanks to some of my professional contacts (including the former CWL Board Chair Martha Pellegrino) who were ALF Senior Fellows and were generous enough to vouch for me.

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

Above is the short and sweet version, but it doesn’t encompass the parts of the job search that weren’t slam dunks: applying for jobs that I didn’t get, contemplating moving to another job market, and the self-doubt of starting a new chapter.

You can’t pursue it all, no matter how much you want to. There are only so many hours in the day, and not every job is right for you.

Sifting through job announcements and figuring out which ones really fit my professional experience, values, and ambitions was time-consuming and often exhausting. I tried to go on a run most days and check in with friends – the time to reflect internally on a run and externally through friends helped me distill where I should be putting my energy. During the in-between time, I pursued contract work, which helped me stay active in my professional networks and eased my financial concerns.

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

It’s hard to know which meeting, application, or random conversation will be the door that opens to the next career chapter. So be present where you are and with who you’re with in the moment. Job-seeking is usually a stressful season, so it’s easy for the mind to drift to the long to-do list and the seemingly omnipresent worries, but you can only be in one place at a time and you want to get the most out of the now.

Why do you love your job?

I love the daily chance to collaborate with leaders across regions and sectors who believe in an Oregon that thrives because diversity is welcomed, communities are heard and supported, equity is paramount, and the state is bursting with thoughtful innovation.

My job affords me the chance to think deeply, feel passionately, and work with people who inspire me.

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