Interview by: Kylie Wilson
This week we decided to interview another woman of Chegg, Heather Hatlo Porter, who is their marketing executive. We interviewed her to learn about where she started her career, some of the personal struggles she’s encountered, and what tips and tricks she has for other women in business.
“No job is worth you not being authentically yourself. You can always find another job. You can’t find another you!”
-Heather Hatlo Porter
What does your current job involve? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
There is definitely no typical day in my role as a marketing executive. While my focus is primarily on brand engagement, events and cause marketing, on any given day business priorities can shift and you have to be quick to adapt your work and your campaigns to the needs of the organization.
I also work with a lot of high profile people/celebrities for many of our large marketing campaigns and working with their schedules and ever changing requests always keeps me on my toes.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
I have had a very non-traditional career path. My first “office job” was as a receptionist in a corporate law firm. After 8 months of answering phones one of the senior attorneys offered me a job as a legal assistant and I took it. I didn’t feel ready, or knowledgeable, but I was young and knew I should jump at the chance to learn.
After two and a half years learning about the start-up world of Silicon Valley from a legal perspective, one of our corporate clients, a B2B software start-up, offered me a role as a Sales Coordinator. I knew nothing about software sales but I jumped at the chance again.
I would say the most common theme of my career is that I was often, and surprisingly, offered roles I felt ill-prepared for but I took a chance, trusted in myself, and (even before Sheryl Sandberg coined the term) I knew in my gut I needed to Lean In!
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
Oh goodness, I have made so many mistakes I have lost count. But, I have always taken every failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.
One mistake I have made a few times throughout my career is not speaking up when I knew I should have. Whether it was because I was afraid someone would judge my idea, or concerned people would think I wasn’t a team player if I had a dissenting opinion, there are times where I have later regretted not saying something.
As I have gotten older, and more confident in myself, I find this happens less frequently but I still have to remind myself, from time to time, to never let an opportunity pass me by to speak up for what I believe – no matter the situation.
What’s one important piece of advice for young women entering the business force?
Be true to yourself. It’s really the best advice for people – men or women. When you go in to your first job there may be times where you are challenged, and that’s a good thing, but if you ever feel like who you are and what you believe in is being challenged, or you are making compromises, don’t. No job is worth you not being authentically yourself. You can always find another job. You can’t find another you!
Have you ever had to deal with sexism as a woman in the business world? If so, how did you deal with it?
Absolutely. In just about every kind of work environment I have been in there has been some degree of sexism. For me, it comes back to knowing who I am, what I am (and am not) ok with, and sticking to that. I have told people quite bluntly when I think things are inappropriate and there are other times where I can easily look past a silly joke or something that might otherwise offend someone. I have a pretty thick skin, so I think that works in my favor, but I am also not going to tolerate behavior that I find offensive – and I will say something about it.
What’s something women can do to get ahead before their getting first job in a business environment?
Set goals and get a head start on working on them. If you know you want to try out a job in marketing – set a goal to learn a few software programs you know marketers use. If you want to work in a specific industry, research what jobs are available to you in that industry and set a goal to meet with or interview a few people that have those jobs.
Getting in to the habit of goal setting (and goal obtaining) will serve anyone well before they get in to the business world. Also – learn Outlook! J
Ending Note from herNetwork:
Even if it isn’t time to get your first official office job, you can always start by setting goals. Finding the right job isn’t easy, especially if you have multiple offers that all seem enticing. One of the most important things to keep in mind when looking for jobs or choosing a job is to remain true to oneself. And don’t sweat it if your first entry-level job isn’t your dream job. There’s no telling where life will take you.