25 February 2016

Why I Love the Outdoor Industry

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in...and out. Picture your happy place. Imagine yourself standing there surrounded by all of your favorite people...

Happy place with my faves.


That's what it feels like to work in the outdoor industry. Well, kind of....

A few months ago, as I was preparing to stand in front of 850 high-school seniors in Pasco, Washington (to impart some sort of career wisdom presumably), I put together a visual diagram of my career. I needed it to help explain my two-part message: 1) follow your passions to find the right career for you; and 2) your career will not be a straight line - if you're lucky you'll find something you love to do about 50% of the time.

Out of college, I had big plans (and was on track) to make $100,000/year within 5 years:

Then I was laid off and ended up in a different industry...

...then I was recruited to yet another industry (right as I was looking to move to Boulder), was laid off again, and found my dream job at The Mountaineers!

You see? Not a straight line. I did end up in the right place though, and these are the three reasons I know for sure:
  1. The Stoke: Outdoor people turn the stoke up to 11. We GET EXCITED. We know what makes us tick, and go after it with endless enthusiasm. Hiking, climbing, skiing, paddling - we do it all. Costumes? Beer? Costumes AND beer? Bring it on sister, because we will work hard, play hard, and get up the next morning for dawn patrol no problem at all. And we're excited to work together to bring 'the stoke' to more people. Whether you're getting out for your first-ever hike or prepping for a trip to climb Denali, we are your cheerleaders and your gear-loaners. I frequently work with outdoor gear partners who provide endless support (and gusto!) for our projects. It's incredibly refreshing find people who are cheering for the same thing.
  2. The Scrappiness: In the outdoor industry, we know how to do a lot with a little. Recreation in Washington State accounts for $22.5 billion in annual consumer spending - a small drop in the hat that doesn't even break the Top-10 list. Nationwide 'recreation' is growing, but by and large you have a lot of small outdoor companies trying to do a lot with a little. We work with what we have to create change and build buy-in for an outdoor lifestyle. We use social media, blogs, events, and word-of-mouth to spread our shared mission: to get more people outside to experience the outdoors and create a love of wild places in order to protect them for generations to come.
  3. The Stewardship: Okay, so maybe stewardship isn’t quite the right word, but I was on a roll with the alliteration and I just can’t stop! What I really mean is conservation and preservation. Whether you're Patagonia, a company whose ethic has always involved a high-level of philanthropy toward conservation, or you're a mom-n-pop gear shop down the street, we're all interested in the same thing: preserving the outdoors so people will continue to recreate. It's good for business and it's good for the planet. We enjoy the privilege of playing in our outdoor sanctuaries because visionaries before us thought to protect them. It's now our duty to make sure our grandkids can play too.
What I learned from eight years and two layoffs and working in in 5 different industries (education, customer service, media, food, professional sports) is that I really, really love working in the outdoor industry. The people are incredible. They’re excited. They share my perspective on life and my view of the world. They are my tribe. I hope you follow your passions to find the same.

Find your tribe.

18 February 2016

Turns All Year: Month 51

I met Theresa at 9,000ft on Mt. Hood on July 28, 2013. At the time I was working on month 21 of turns all year, but she was rocking month 33. That's the problem with having a best ski friend who just happens to be a year ahead of you on turns all year - your number never seems as impressive in comparison. When she told me she was at 33 months, I though "Damn, that is a LOT of months. I wonder if I'll get there someday?"

Catch up to her I did, a year later...but Theresa kept on trucking too, and she celebrated 45 months as I celebrated 33. By then we'd met Nick, who was on 57 months. I settled in for a long journey of always being third fiddle.

Then, last summer, just as I was quitting climbing, Nick discovered  it and turned his back on TAY after 69 months. It was the worst winter we'd had on record, and he got to do lots of spring and summer and fall climbing. I was sad and happy. Sad to lose Nick as a TAY buddy, but happy because now I was only second fiddle.

While I like to think someday I'll catch up to Theresa, the act of catching her would mean she quit chasing TAY. If you've met T-Town, you know this is NOT happening. And I'm fine with that. Because really all of us should have someone in our lives to inspire us - and make us feel just a little bit inadequate.

In January I celebrated 51 months of turns all year, and right next to me was Theresa, 12-months ahead, making me feel like 63 months is so much more impressive than my mere 51. And so I keep trucking.

Here are my favorite pics and from six days of skiing in January 2016:

January 1: Owly, Shasta, and the Yvettes. 

January 1: Snowshoe tracks abound. 

January 1: My tutu. Kurt's man tutu.

January 13: Blower day at Crystal. We were a little excited.

January 13: See, I said it was blower?

January 13: Drink it in ladies. Drink it in.

January 17: Family ski.

January 7: Mama will drink to that!

January 17: Dust on crust in Winthrop.

January 17: Got to see this in action!

January 18: Demonstrating caution at Loup Loup.

11 February 2016

How To Get A Job: Nonprofit Edition

Resume trends fascinate me. While I don't work in HR and hardly consider myself an expert, I've kept up with changing philosophies over time. I frequently volunteer to help friends and family update or rework their resumes for specific opportunities. Cover letters too! Creating a solid cover letter can be invigorating.

I love this stuff, and have been known to lose hours of my life to getting formatting lined up just right. In my current role as a marketing and membership director for a nonprofit, I'm in charge of hiring for my team. The Mountaineers is a pretty desirable place to work (recognized recently as one of Outside Magazine's Top 100 Best Places to Work), and our job openings average 50+ applications each. With no real HR department, this means I wade through a LOT of resumes and cover letters.

As someone interested in applying for a nonprofit job, you can make your resume stand out by doing (and not doing) the following:

DO: Acknowledge the mission 
When you work for a nonprofit, the mission of the organization is of paramount importance. Employees are generally paid less in a nonprofit, and therefore find value in working for an organization whose mission aligns with their core values. You need to clearly communicate how the mission resonates with you personally in your cover letter. This helps me understand how you will fit in on my team.

Pro-tip: Many nonprofits are member based or donation supported. Make a small donation, sign up for a temporary membership, or get on the email list. Use it as an opportunity to learn more and show that you're committed to the organization. It could give you a leg up - we absolutely will look in our internal systems first to see if you're involved.

DO: Be personal 
Most nonprofits do NOT have an HR department, meaning the hiring manager is likely the person reading the applications (and could eventually be your boss). In most cases, the name of the hiring manager will be listed OR you can figure it out based on the email address provided or through internet sleuthing. I'd much rather see something that says "Hi Kristina" or "Dear Miss Ciari" than "To Whom It May Concern". If you know who is on the other end, address that person. It demonstrates you're thoughtful and pay and extra attention to detail.

Pro-tip: Use your social networks to research people who work there. LinkedIn is the perfect platform for this. Maybe you know a former colleague who can get you an informational interview. People who work here LOVE to share the important work they do. Or one of your connections may be willing to put in a recommendation. Personal recommendations always rise to the top of the list.

DO: Show enthusiasm 
You apply for jobs for all kinds of reasons - you got laid off, burned out, or need a change - but an enthusiastic application always stands above the rest. When you say, "I saw this opportunity and HAD to apply. This is my dream job!" I know you're a strong applicant. Even if this isn't your dream job, you should be excited about the opportunity - otherwise you're wasting your time and mine. 

Pro-tip: Don't be afraid to show enthusiasm and personality. Be excited! Whoever is on the receiving end will pick up on it. I sure will.

DO: Follow resume 'best practices' 
Always send attachments in a format that's easy to open and read. The best way to preserve your formatting is to send your resume as a PDF. Same goes for a cover letter. Make sure the header on your cover letter and your resume match. Don't include references unless they were specifically requested. And unless you have a PHD and 10+ years of experience, keep it to one page.

Pro-tip: To go a step above, your resume should be titled in a way to include your name and the company name. A good example would be "John Smith - The Mountaineers - Feb 2016" instead of "JS-v7-generic mktg". Be careful to watch for typos when doing this - they can sneak into titles easily. This demonstrates attention to detail and shows I'm not one of 100 applications you've submitted today.

DO: Be patient 
Hiring takes a lot of time. Days turn into weeks in the blink of an eye. When hiring is stalled, it hardly ever has to do with the candidates, but rather with competing priorities within the organization. I try to provide applicants with a general timeline for next steps when applications are received. Many job listings generally include an application period as well. You want to work for a nonprofit - patience will serve you well.

Pro-tip: If you feel compelled to follow up about your application, do keep the stated deadlines in mind. Be thoughtful with your follow up, and use it as an opportunity to restate your enthusiasm for the mission. Most importantly, keep it short.

DON'T: Apply if the salary is too low
Salary ranges on nonprofit job listings are the real range for what you will be paid. We give you a range on purpose to weed out people who need more money. When you apply for a job you can't "afford" you're wasting your time. There is little wiggle room, and yes, it is likely less money than you would make in an equivalent role in the corporate environment. I've been on a number of phone interviews where we've ended the call because we can't meet in the middle on salary. It's depressing for everyone.

DON'T: Attach a generic cover letter
You'd be surprised how often I receive cover letters without the word "The Mountaineers" in them anywhere. If you're applying for a job with my organization, take the time to create a cover letter demonstrating your interest in working here. I spend a lot more time reading cover letters than looking at resumes. And when you're applying via email, don't attach a cover letter at all unless instructed to do so. The cover letter should be the body of your email. It makes my life easier by giving me fewer things to keep track of for you.

DON'T: Forget to send a thank you note 
If you do get an interview, send a thank you note - even if it's just a quick email. Thank the interviewer for their time and reinforce your enthusiasm about the opportunity. The best follow up notes I've received have referenced something we discussed in our initial conversation where the interviewee took note of my interest. Sending something that's genuinely interesting to me will serve as a much better reminder than a sterile email saying thank you. It makes me feel like you care on a personal level (which, hopefully, you do).

04 February 2016

Shout your face off

In my last post, I outlined 7 ways to have more fun - or at least LOOK like you are. The premise of the post assumed you were seeking to have more fun in photos. It did not touch on life in general per say.

However if you, like me, are also looking to have more fun in real life, I have one suggestion for you: shout your face off! That's it. One thing. And rather than explain it, I'll let this little video do it for me:

And this is what it sounds like to go skiing with me! It really is more fun when you shout your face off! (on a related note, anyone want to give me a tutorial in iMovie? I've got LOTS of obnoxious videos to share!)
Posted by Kristina Ciari on Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Happy shouting!