My Passion to Profession Journey

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All of the awesome women participating in this series have turned a passion for the outdoors into a profession in the outdoor industry in their own unique way. What makes your passion-to-profession journey distinct?

I think what makes my journey unique is my non-traditional route from A to B. In my case, I went to college for journalism with the intention of becoming a magazine writer. Social media was just being introduced as a business tool and I had no idea what it was or how to use it for work. After I graduated, I got a job with a local marketing agency writing blog posts and updating website code, so not exactly what I went to school for. After 12 months of doing that, I pitched this new social media position to my then-boss and took it and ran. It was intimidating but fun to create my own job description – it meant my role could be flexible and adapt, which we know you have to be flexible to work in social media! I got to a point where I loved social media but needed a new challenge and got asked to go to Outdoor Retailer by one of my friends who was an ultra runner/blogger. I saw it as an opportunity to talk to brands and learn more about the outdoor industry. I grew up hiking, camping, skiing, playing soccer…so it seemed like a natural progression. I got home from the show invigorated to make some major changes in my life and started applying to companies with open social media roles. I honestly didn’t think I had the experience Osprey was looking for or a shot in hell but here I am! I now work for an amazing company and can say that most days, it doesn’t feel like work because I love it so much.

Are there any specific career highlights you’d like to share—awesome moments when you’ve known you made the right career decision?

One of the things I love about my job is I feel like I jumped in head first which has been both awesome and scary at the same time. It also meant that I started laying out some goals from the beginning.

A few career highlight include:

Speaking at a panel at Winter OR on social media for retailers – I used to not like public speaking but I love teaching and sharing knowledge when I can. I am a soccer coach too so I feel like the teaching aspect comes naturally to me. I was excited when my co-worker and I got asked to speak at the last winter OR because I had literally written “speak on a panel” on my annual review goals a week prior. I answer questions from behind a computer screen all day so it was nice to get in front of an audience and speak…not to mention I was honored and nervous and all the feels. I’ve now spoken on 3 panels at 3 separate OR shows and ran a session at Outdoor Blogger Summit and couldn’t be more stoked. Let’s just say I’m looking to do more of this in the future!

Spotify channel – I am an avid Spotify listener and love discovering new music so when I discovered that we work with bands, I wanted to try something a little different. I remember seeing an email from YETI about a guest Spotify playlist where they featured new weekly artists and thought it was a fun way to mesh a band with a brand. Music in a sense is an extension of a brands voice and I saw this as a creative way for us to integrate all of the amazing bands we work with into our social strategy. After seeing success with guest playlists, we decided to bring bands into our office to perform a live set at The Roost, while also broadcasting the show to Facebook Live. This is a great way for our audience to enjoy a free show and to introduce them to a different side of our brand. We work with all types of bands from The Lumineers and Elephant Revival to Drive By Truckers and Ben Solee. If you’re looking for some new tunes, go follow us on Spotify!

#DearOsprey launch  – One of the first projects I got to work on when I started was how to feature user content more prominently on our blog. As a writer, I love telling stories and reading about other peoples experiences so #DearOsprey became a natural passion project for me. The idea behind it is to tell stories of how our packs have helped change our customer’s relationship with nature. One of the first submissions that came in was from a dad who had gone to the doctor and was told he would never hike again due to a medical condition. Despite that, he went to an REI garage sale, bought an Exos and hiked the JMT! This particular story will stick with me forever but we get tons of emotional submissions that are inspiring and I feel lucky to get to share those with our audience!

How about any lows, where you questioned your career choice and thought, what am I doing? (If so, how did you push through that?)

This is a tough question because I try to approach every situation as a challenge I can learn from and I don’t feel like I’ve had this moment (at this job) yet. However, part of my job as a social media specialist is answering some customer service questions. You learn a lot about your consumer base this way which can be awesome but you also learn that people are not afraid to say whatever they want from behind the safety of a computer screen. The good far outweighs the bad in our case but because I am a passionate, emotional person, it starts to affect me personally. There was an article we shared about the best lesser-known mountain bike trails in Telluride (a town near our office) and a customer said some very nasty things about us exposing those trails in the comments section and that was hard for me. Just ask any social media manager and they have plenty of stories of crazy customers…I have much worse stories but will spare you guys. Dealing with customer feedback is definitely tough but at the end of the day, you can’t make everybody happy and I constantly have to remind myself of that. You get some bad apples but you also realize they are probably just having a bad day and need someone to talk to.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your unique experience as a women who’s forged a great career in the outdoor industry?

Find what you’re passionate about, then take it and run. I was terrified to make the move from a big city to a one stoplight town but my boss and co-workers have been so supportive. This place feels like home; one leap of faith and 18 months later, this is where I want to be.

Making the decision to quit my old job and move 7 hours away wasn’t easy though. If I had it to do over again, I would say as a young woman, trust your instincts and know that you are strong enough to make some of those larger life decisions on your own. Whoever you got an interview with or a job offer from wants you for a reason so don’t sell your skill set short. You’re a badass in your own right – believe it and own it!

Do you have any advice for women interested in joining our industries, and turning their own passion for the outdoors into a profession?

If someone is ready to make a career move into the outdoor industry, my advice would be:

  1. Write down a list of things they’re passionate about and what their top 5 strengths in the work force are. Once they have those, the hard part of perusing job boards can begin.
  2. Don’t be afraid to submit your resume to a position that mentally seems out of your league. You never know who else is applying and what they’re looking for.
  3. Go to events and network with companies who are there. It all started for me at Outdoor Retailer and the rest is history

I firmly believe that if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work; that’s the biggest change I’ve experienced between my last job and this one. 90% of the time, I don’t mind staying late, getting up early or doing the unglamorous tasks because I am so in love with my job.

Originally written by me for REI

**Note: I originally wrote this piece for REI. We decided to go in a different direction for the project and I got permission to use this on my personal channels. I was not compensated for this post and did not receive any gear in exchange. Just a rad project with a rad company!

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