December 13th, 2008
We are in the worst economic situation of the past 25 years, and the tech sector in the Valley has been hit hard. I thought instead of commenting on each layoff as it happens, it would make the whole thing more tangible to look at how actual people are affected. I invited a friend of mine, Cathy Browne, to talk about her situation. I hope if you have a kind word, or better still, a lead on a career opportunity for Cathy, you will leave a comment below, or contact her by email or through Twitter. Thank you. - Joel
Guest Post by Cathy Browne
It’s hard for me to write this without tears falling onto my keyboard. Last week I gave my landlord notice to put my wonderful little cottage apartment up for rent. My savings are gone. My visitor’s visa will expire in six weeks. After several years in Silicon Valley, I will have to leave the U.S., my adopted family, my precious cats, my friends and the life I cherish here. This is, and will always be, home to me, and I am broken-hearted.
I’ve been a tech PR practitioner for 25 years. People tell me I’m good at it. I love my profession, working with media and analysts, start-ups and all things geeky. I’m also legally blind, but I manage to fake it until I encounter a glass door or a name tag I can’t read. Besides, you don’t need to see much to tell a good story.
I’ve watched PCs, email, voice mail, fax machines, the Internet and cell phones emerge to become the things we take for granted. Now I’ve embraced social media big-time, and I’m as excited about its potential as anything else I’ve ever seen. I want to help integrate SM into PR programs for tech companies who haven’t even thought of it yet.
But I’m stuck. As a Canadian, I can’t work in the US unless I have a visa – a process that many employers consider too complicated and lengthy to take on. And who can blame them? There are so many deserving, smart people out there who, like me, are looking – and they’re a snap to hire.
I get that. But I am aching to work. And I have to work to support myself. So I scour Web sites for opportunities, I network, I live on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (my new addiction) and I meet with terrific people. I don’t intend to give up until I’m dragged kicking and screaming onto my Air Canada flight.
Why do I bother? Why don’t I just go back? I love it here. I love the work ethic, the energy and the attitude that pervades this Valley. I love that my time here has injected that enthusiasm, curiosity and desire to succeed into me. I feel 20 years younger. And most of all, I feel I still have something to contribute.
If you are a VC, company or agency out there who recognizes the critical importance of PR and needs help, take a chance on me before I have to leave at the end of January. Let me work for you for a day or two – for nothing – to prove my worth. Throw whatever you have at me, and if you like what you see, hire me. Give me an offer letter and I’ll fly up to Vancouver, go through the usual hassles at Customs, and come back legal. You’ll be happy you did.
If you’re interested, let’s talk. You’ll find me on Twitter, @mscathybrowne, and on email at email@example.com.
Thanks for listening. Happy holidays.