It caught me off guard during a recent conversation with a friend,

So you’ve always worked for yourself?

Having reformatted my professional story following the advice of Cindy Pain, a remarkable career coach, I didn’t realize how much my professional story now very much resembled an iceberg. Seemingly giant on the top but more than half of its true size hidden. Following the statement, I found myself obliged to share the parts underneath that support Shiba Inu Studio.

A Bit of Backstory…

I started my first professional job as a journalist at the Gazette in Orting, Washington in 2007. In this role I was charged with hunting down local stories within the community and shedding light on topics that affected the Orting Valley and surrounding exurban areas.  The role taught me the importance of piecing together a larger story using information from the community. It also taught me a lot about how to interact with people and help develop stories from nothing. A few of my most noteworthy stories included an unintentional exposé of a corrupt fire chief and a local social impact business called Prison Scholars.

My next professional job was at the Tacoma Art Museum in the summer of 2008. Here I learned about the importance of building strong relationships with community members through in-person outreach and how to interview people for videos.

Following the art museum, I returned to school for the fall and began working at the Northwest Peace Corps regional office. Here I provided support to regional recruiters in the area and helped the program find new applicants via online media outlets. I worked this job until graduation in 2009 when I once again returned to Tacoma to work at Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU).

At TPU I had the opportunity to work on just about everything. I helped write newsletter copy, became quickly versed in the ins and outs of content management systems, built custom PowerPoint decks, helped devise social media strategies, and one of my favorites, getting the opportunity to update fishing information on a hotline number.

Once that ended I landed a role with a PR agency in Seattle focused on hospitality PR. Having done little PR work prior to starting at Suzuki+Chou, I was anxious, nervous, and excited, all at the same time. But like I’ve done with every role, I jumped in head first and learned the ins and outs. Through the experience I had the opportunity build relationships with reporters, do actual press outreach, manage social media strategies, and something that deeply terrified and excited me at the time, pitch new business! Which I found I actually enjoyed doing.

Following the end of this role I finally got my first big break. A friend over coffee introduced me to Nyhus Communications, a PR and public affairs agency in Seattle. While I can personally attest to what you read on Glassdoor is true (good and bad), it was a huge learning experience; I loved the opportunity to work with a diverse client base and wear a variety of hats. I met with clients, created media plans, pitched media, and even got to sit in on a few new business opportunities where I had the chance to pitch and win larger clients such as the Port of Seattle and KUOW.

As my luck would have it, I was laid off in 2012. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I was temporarily in dismay but shook off the feeling of gloom quickly and then transitioned to my last full-time job at WE Communications, then Waggener Edstrom.

Similarly to Nyhus, most of what you read on Glassdoor is true about WE. There is a lot of “PR work” on the site but as with any type of review, I always tell colleagues and friends to read both the best and worst reviews; the truth is somewhere in the middle.

At WE I worked with Microsoft’s developer platform evangelism (DPE) team to help promote the Microsoft platform as the platform of choice for the developer community. Working in tandem with my team and client at Microsoft, I helped manage outreach to journalists, both nationally and internationally, created briefing documents to help prepare Microsoft executives for media interviews, tracked and reported on coverage, and my most favorite all at the time, participating in non-traditional influencer research and engagement.
Pausing for a bit, my friend and I recollected ourselves and returned to the present.

Back in the Present…

Careers are like icebergs I continued. It’s easy to see what’s on top but you have to take a step back once and awhile and ask for a full picture to see what’s buried beneath.

I ended the explanation with,

Shiba Inu Studio is built on a number of hard fought lessons learned (success stories and blooper reels), happenstance, the rise of digital media, and most importantly friendships and connections.

What’s your iceberg career story?

[Photos Courtesy of Sebastian We and Tom Simpson]