Career Cornerstones: Find Alignment and Build a Fulfilling Career with Diana Alt


Diana Alt, a certified career coach with 20+ years experience in tech, discusses the concept of “career cornerstones” and shares insights on building a fulfilling career. In this episode, she emphasizes the importance of finding work that aligns with your interests and skills and encourages you to explore side hustles or alternative avenues to fill in any gaps. Diana also highlights the significance of effective leadership, a supportive environment, and a strong company culture, as well as the need to be clear about your career goals and definition of success. Learn more at




Navigating Career Transitions with Evelyn Chou, Coursera


As a young professional, it can be difficult to navigate the world of work and find the courage to pursue our dreams. That’s why I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Evelyn Chou, the senior manager of product at Coursera, who shared her insights and advice on how to succeed in our careers.

Evelyn explains how she evolved her career and skill set through introspection, experimentation, proactive personal development and taking risks. During this episode, she offers advice for career pivots, both from the perspective of a hiring manager and someone who has done it herself. 

This conversation provides valuable advice for those looking to pivot to new roles or advance their careers. You can find Evelyn on Medium and Mentor Cruise.



Welcome to the first episode of Season 3 of the Venturesome Podcast. In this first episode, we’re talking about side gigs with Leah Keggi. 

Leah Keggi is a VP of marketing by day and a talented surface pattern designer in her free time. In this episode, Leah and I discussed how she balances a demanding career within the wine and spirits space with her side gig, Coast L Studio. We also chatted about the downfalls of “hustle culture,” the boundaries and systems she has in place to manage both commitments, and her advice on why you should just get started if you’re thinking about starting a passion project. 

In addition to throw pillows and tapestries, people can purchase her patterns on fabric, wallpaper and more to create their own coastal vibes in their home. Be sure to check her out on Instagram at @CoastLStudio

Job Seeker Secrets


Rachel Esterline Perkins and Morgan MacDermaid share their job seeker secrets — from determining your values to ensure you take the right role to finding opportunities within your network and online. 

A few tips from the episode include: 

  • Don’t get your self-actualization from your career.
  • Take some time to think about what you want in your career, what type of companies you want to work for, and what you value most. 
  • Start your job search with your network. Talk to your professors, your friends, and your colleagues because some jobs are never listed. 
  • Indeed and LinkedIn can be great for getting a sense for what’s out there, but it’s often best to apply directly through the company’s website. 
  • Follow your gut. If a role doesn’t feel like a fit, it’s OK to respectfully turn down the offer. 
  • If you are waiting on a competing offer, it’s OK to ask for a few days. But, tread carefully because you don’t want to lose the original offer if the other offer doesn’t work out. 

Listen on to get more insights on finding the right job for you. 

Want the workbook mentioned in the episode? Join us on Patreon

Resume Reveal: Hiring Managers Share Tips & Tricks


In their first collaborative episode as cohosts, Morgan MacDermaid and Rachel Esterline Perkins share their tips, tricks, and pet peeves as hiring managers. 

Morgan reviews upwards of 300 resumes a month as a recruiter for a broad range of roles and Rachel has spent time deeply involved in hiring for marketing and communications roles in her current and previous roles. Listen on to hear their perspectives on resumes. 

And as promised during the episode, here are our resumes side-by-side:

Rachel's Resume

Morgan's resume





Randi Shaffer: There is never going to be an ideal time. The universe is never going to align and say this is your next move ... just just go for it.


Randi Shaffer never wants to look back and wonder what would have happened if she would have followed the path she wanted. From working at the Chicago Tribune to serving in the Peace Corps in Ukraine to firefighter school in Flagstaff, Randi’s career has been an incredible adventure. 

“One of my big mentalities is I want to know the ‘what if…’ And if you don’t take those jumps, if you don’t take those risks, you will never know the ‘what if…”

In this episode, she shares:

  • How she applied for hundreds of jobs before being hired as a social media assistant at the Chicago Tribune
  • Why she quit her “dream job” to join the Peace Corps
  • What it was like to be in Ukraine at the start of the pandemic
  • Her advice for career pivots during times of uncertainty

Randi also shares her perspective on generational shifts in the workplace and how she had to take a step back to areas she had skipped over in her laser-focused career pursuits in her twenties. After months of unemployment due to the pandemic, Randi leveraged her life and career experiences and landed as a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Forest Service. 

As a former journalist, Randi shares critical career advice for young professionals — including for those in journalism who want to stay in the field or leave to try something else. 

“I truly thought that it would take me until my 40s to even get to any kind of media position in Chicago. So when I checked that box at the age of 26, I was like, ‘I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life.'”

Randi’s venturesome advice:

“There is never going to be an ideal time. The universe is never going to align and say this is your next move. If you want to trave, don’t wait for friends. Just do it by yourself. If you want to take the jump moving in a career, don’t plot everything out in a calendar and make sure everything goes to plan. Just take that job. If you have the resources and if you have the support system, just just go for it.”

You can follow Randi on Twitter or read her blog, Randi with an i.

Support for Ukraine

As mentioned early in the episode, Randi shared two charities that support Ukrainians affected by the war: 

If you enjoyed this episode and Randi’s advice, I’d encourage you to give what you can. 






Taking Your Own Path


I recently had the opportunity to do a 360 review — which is a fascinating (and slightly terrifying) opportunity to ask your colleagues to give you feedback. One commenter said they wanted to know more about what I’ve done to get to where I am today. I decided to use this as an opportunity to revive the Venturesome Podcast with Morgan MacDermaid in the interviewer’s seat.

Listen to the episode and scroll on below for answers to additional questions. 

What were you like as a kid?

Rachel as a child holding a chickenI was extremely quiet, shy and sensitive as a kid. My younger brother and I spent our childhood outside — building forts in the woods, driving a quad on our trails and riding horses. I loved animals, so we had a menagerie of ponies, kittens, chickens, goats, rabbits and once even baby raccoons that we bottle-fed after their mother was killed. I started showing horses when I was 8, and spent every summer in the saddle until I left for college. 

Those who know me well joke about my organization skills. What’s funny is I’ve always been this way. I alphabetized my books and color coordinated my closet. I created a schedule one summer break to plan for the optimal day, which included riding by bike for an hour followed by jumping on the trampoline. Don’t even get me started on how my 64-pack of crayons were organized by color (and how annoyed I would get when people would borrow crayons and return them to the wrong section). 

Rachel's senior photoWhat was the first ever job you had?

When I was 13, I worked for my mom’s friend who took ponies to kids’ birthday parties and festivals. I saved up enough money to buy my first computer that first summer! 

In college, I worked as a carriage driver in Frankenmuth, Michigan. It was a physically demanding and exhausting job requiring 12 hour days outside in the elements. Because I gave tours, the job helped me refine my public speaking and people skills. 

I also made money in high school by selling horses for people. For a commission, I would list the horse online, design and print flyers and manage the phone calls. 

How did you end up in PR and marketing? 

It wasn’t until I took journalism and broadcasting in high school that I found my confidence. I’d always been a strong writer and I enjoyed taking on the “hard-hitting investigative” stories. My teacher, Jenifer Tong, helped develop my passion for storytelling and named me editor-in-chief of the student newspaper during my senior year.

Mrs. Tong supported all of my crazy ideas. I once sifted through the school handbook and discovered that my school wasn’t conducting tornado and fire drills as required. So, I interviewed the principal about it and quoted him claiming the school met the requirements. I also did a story to determine what door handle in the school was the germiest. Turns out the main office door was dirtier than a toilet seat!

How did you end up at Central Michigan University?

Because I knew I’d be paying for college on my own, I told myself I couldn’t attend unless I knew my major. I remember having college programs spread across my bed, highlighter in hand. One program that I starred was CMU’s integrative public relations major. The core courses incorporated the areas that interested me — including journalism, broadcasting and communications, and had electives in business and advertising. 

My experience at Central built the foundation I needed to succeed in my career. I became involved in the Public Relations Student Society of America and served as press secretary of the Student Government Association my senior year. I also completed a couple of internships. 

If you hadn’t gone into PR, what type of career do you think you would be doing?

As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian and I wanted to be an FBI agent in junior high. In college, I took an archaeology course in my first semester and I found the topic  fascinating. I think if I hadn’t already been focused on my career path in PR, I might have considered it as a major. 

What has been your favorite role and why?

My time at CMU as associate director of PR and social media was really special to me. I loved interviewing faculty about their expertise to write stories for CMU News. I always sought out unique stories, such as the professor who taught a religion course called “From Revelation to The Walking Dead” and the anthropology student who was 3-D printing fossils.

CMU is also where I first became a manager. I took over the internship program, giving me the opportunity to mentor and train four to five students each semester. So far I’ve managed over 30 interns in my career. 

Rachel riding her horseIs there one single thing you think propelled your career?

I’ve always had a relentless drive that I think was instilled in me by my dad. I’m a first-generation high school and college graduate, so I already had to navigate so much on my own just to get through college. I approached my career with that same level of intensity. In hindsight, I think that also contributed to some of my past experiences with burnout. 

I’m also convinced that my years of riding and showing horses helped build a foundation for my skills. I learned to work hard and how to recover from failure with grace. You need to have a lot of patience and empathy to work with horses. 

What’s the best advice you’ve been given? 

This was a hard one for me to answer on the podcast, but I took some more time to think about it. A lot of the best advice I’ve been given came from my dad

I also have a lot of mentors who have given me great advice over the years and I think the best advice often involves your mentor asking you a lot of questions to help you get to the right answer for you. 

What has been the toughest experience of your career?

When I was at CMU, I had to deal with some pretty tough situations involving student deaths and other crises. Aside from that, I tend to find that the bad experiences — the tough days, bad managers and high stakes projects gone awry — have all made me stronger and better in the end. As much as I hated the experience in the moment, I am thankful I had them in the end.

What would you have done different?

In hindsight, there have definitely been times I haven’t handled things in the best way. There are a lot of things that I’d change looking back, including how I’ve reacted to certain situations. But all of my missteps have still led me to where I am today, so I try not to focus too much on what I could have done different. 

I also wish that I’d ventured off course a bit more in college. I was so focused on building my career that I didn’t become involved in student activities that weren’t related to my major. Everything I did was solely for the purpose of ensuring I’d get a good job after college. If I could go back, I’d join the equestrian team and take more classes outside my major. 

Where do you see yourself in the future?

This is a tough question. After over a decade of trying to predict and shape my future career path, I’ve been trying to take a more relaxed approach. I want to focus on the now rather than worrying constantly if what I am doing will get me to the next step. I also have been realizing the importance of balance and giving myself the space for things that aren’t related to my career. 

What venturesome advice would you give your younger self?

You are exactly where you need to be right now. Early in my career, I constantly worried I was falling behind. Other people always had these cool jobs and cool experiences. They were getting hired at big-name corporations or making double what I was bringing in. I was living in a small town, often working for small organizations or universities. Looking back, the experience I gained at those organizations helped propel me in the right direction. You need to focus on taking your own path — not the path others are on. 


Wanderlust and living a life you love with Morgan MacDermaid


Morgan MacDermaid used to spend hours in the travel section of the library, looking at all the places she could go. In college, she had her first chance to board a plane and her study abroad in Italy changed the course of her life. 

After graduation, she traded the possibility of a corporate cubicle for adventure. Morgan has traveled to over 40 countries around the world, slept in a tent across Alaska and moved to St. Thomas when she only knew a single person on the island.

a strong desire to travel

When the pandemic hit, her world was turned upside down. She came back to Michigan for a stint, bought a car and set off to drive across the United States before leveraging her global experiences to land a jobs as a logistics coordinator and recruiter in Tennessee. 

For the first time, she shares the full story of how she went from neuroscience major to fashionista and global nomad, and the rejections that led her to her new career as a recruiter. 

Get career advice and the transcript to this episode as a Patron

If you enjoyed this episode, check out Patreon to get workbooks, resources and transcripts



Mastering Project Management


Thinking back as far as high school, I was never a fan of “group projects.” I’m a Type A perfectionist with what my friend Emily lovingly refers to as “control strengths.” 

In college I would volunteer to write an entire paper on my own rather than relying on a group to help get the job done right. Sometimes I would end up rewriting an entire section of a paper or adding quite a bit to ensure the paper hit all the marks.  

But, by the time I hit my senior year, I was incredibly frustrated by the missed deadlines and poorly written work that would occur when someone was coasting in a project or lacked attention to detail. The final straw was when a classmate added a single run-on paragraph to our group’s communications plan in a senior PR capstone class. I was done picking up the pieces. I sent the paper on to the professor with a note about who produced each section, not bothering to write the pages of research we needed for his section of the paper. 

Fortunately, I’ve found “group” projects to be a much smoother experience in the workplace, where team members collaborate, meet deadlines and assign parts of the project based on strengths and workloads. I can confidently say I’ve never experienced group project disasters like I did in high school or college. 

Over the past few years, I’ve mentored college students and am reminded of the groupwork struggle. It has made me realize we’re failing to teach most college students a critical career skill: Project management. 

The most important part of a successful project isn’t the creative strategy or the final product printed on slick paper. It’s project management. Without project management, entire campaigns can crumble. 

Even if you don’t have “project manager” in your official job title, you are very likely a project manager at some level. Whether you’re a student working on a group presentation or a young professional pulling together an event, you might:

  • Serve as the liaison between the client and the team
  • Set expectations and deadlines
  • Plan checkpoints to ensure project progresses
  • Hold team members accountable for their deliverables
  • Organize meetings, agendas, information and notes
  • Pull together various elements of the project into one file or document
  • Ensure the full project is delivered by the deadline
  • Oversee both the big picture and day-to-day tasks of the project

Whether you’re officially managing a project or simply helping implement a piece of a campaign, here are five tips to help ensure you master project management.

1. Start with a plan

Before you get started, you need a roadmap. To begin planning your project you must understand the scope including the goals, audience, product, budget, timeline, sequencing and approvals that will bring the project together. 

Sometimes, as you develop a plan, you hit roadblocks or uncover new questions. This helps you anticipate potential issues, investigate alternative options, and gets stakeholders to clarify what they really want. 

At this point in the project planning process, it is also important to set basic expectations for the team, such as expected response time to emails and text messages, who will take notes during meetings and who will send follow-ups to the entire group as needed. 

2. Develop a realistic timeline 

After working through your goals and the strategies and tactics you’ll need to meet them, it’s important to work backward from the final date the project needs completed. What actions need to be taken to get there? How long will approvals take? How much time do you need to set aside for elements that could cause you to miss a deadline, such as printing or mailing?

The most important thing to remember in this phase: Underpromise, over-deliver. 

There’s no excuse to miss deadlines and no reason to pull an all-nighter if you plan ahead. With your timeline laid out in front of you, you will know your deadlines well in advance and should be well equipped to prepare for them.

Your timeline can be created in a shared Google Doc calendar or you can use a more sophisticated tool, like Asana (my personal favorite). 

3. Expect the unexpected 

As you work through the project’s tactics and the approvals, it might feel like there is nothing left to do but sit back and wait for Murphy’s Law to take over. 

All projects experience bumps in the road. Throughout the planning process, you have already anticipated the potential problems that could arise and built in extra padding in your timeline. If a problem pops up, take a moment, breathe and work through solutions with your team.

4. Follow up and follow through 

First, know you will likely have to follow up with people — sometimes several times — to get things done. For example, you may need to follow up to: 

  1. Set up a meeting, phone call or Zoom
  2. Ask for a review or approval on a document
  3. Have a colleague complete a key part of the project
  4. Check in with a vendor
  5. Make sure a deadline isn’t missed

As a project manager, it can be frustrating because it feels as if the success of the project falls on your shoulders. However, this project may not be a top priority or top-of-mind for some others who are involved. In most cases, people will appreciate your persistence in making sure the project gets done.  

Second, always follow through. There have been many times a person has committed to sending an agenda, a document or other materials during a meeting, and days go by without the item hitting my inbox. Committing to an action without following through erodes trust and credibility. Keep track of what you commit to do before, during and after meetings, and always follow through. 

5. Execute a project post-mortem

So much learning occurs when you reflect on your successes and failures. After the project is complete, reflect on how you could have better planned ahead, solved problems, minimized miscommunications and managed a more successful project. 

Learn more about project management as a Patron

This month I’ll be uploading a video workshop about project management on Patreon. It will only be available to patrons at the Curious, Fearless and Fierce levels.

Check out our Patreon to get access to this workshop and other special resources

A special thank you to CMU student Rachel Bednarz for helping draft this post when she was volunteering with Venturesome through a class project. She definitely had to follow up with me several times to get projects done!