Finding Your Dream Job in Silicon Valley

I wrote the article below in the hopes it would help other individuals find their dream job. As we prepare for an event that will definitely include job hunting (#BeWokeSF), I wanted to share it with the LAM group to prepare for the event!


In three months I went from not knowing what I wanted to do professionally to landing my dream job, having been rejected from it twice.

I am writing a two part story in the hopes that it helps people find their dream job regardless of their obstacles.

Background: I decided to look for a job end of summer of 2014. For the past 7 years I had been my own boss, growing a small company from a hobby to an actual business. I decided it was time to search for a new challenge.

Having a diverse background (robotics engineer, management consulting, entrepreneur), I had a very difficult time deciding what to pursue professionally. I started applying to various jobs: Data Analyst, Marketing Manager, Engineer, Web Developer, Business Development, Operations Manager — at various companies: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Bain, Navigant, etc. After a week of what felt like throwing darts blindfolded, I reached out for help.

And so it begins … Part 1 (written before I found the dream job):

Reverse Engineer Your Job Search

I watched a webinar by Kelly Studer, Career Stylist, about reverse engineering your job search on, and was compelled to share my learnings with my network.

I hadn’t looked for a job in about 9 years and as I took on the task, I started researching different methods for the optimal search. At first I thought I wanted a job that just paid the bills and sounded “fun” but the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to find a job I was passionate about and one utilizes my talents and skills to the max. Having a diverse professional background, I struggled a little to find out exactly what I want to do and how to go about finding it.

A friend of mine, @laura, suggested I consult a career coach to help me not only find the type of job I should be looking for, but also help me tell my story for the selected job. She recommended I speak with Kelly, and after I googled her, I found the webinar — Reverse engineer your job search. Being an engineer, I decided to invest the 1 hour and watch the webinar. It was completely worth it!

The first few slides of the presentation, “The typical job search”, had me hooked as I was making the same mistakes that she points out:


  • Search job sites
  • Apply to jobs I’m qualified for
  • Begin applying to jobs online
  • Attend networking events (I wasn’t doing this quite yet but was planning to)
  • Spend very little time thinking about how to answer the question: “What are you looking for?”

Going in this direction, she says, will probably get you a job, but one that you probably don’t really want and are over-qualified for.

Instead, what Kelly suggests is:

  • Spend the time to define the ideal job description
  • Include responsibilities and requirements that you are only 70% qualified for
  • Find a job that plays to your talents and not just your skill sets

The concept of defining your job description and applying to jobs you are only 70% qualified for wasn’t new to me but I was not putting it to practice, so it was a nice reminder.

She then walks you through an exercise on how to write your ideal job description. I’ll let you watch the webinar to really get the details. I recommend it!

After watching the seminar I really wanted to see some examples of what people had come up with but unfortunately could not find any. Therefore, I’ve decided to share my exercise with you today in hopes it will be helpful.

Note, this is only the first draft and has more than it needs, but it will give you an idea.


1. Company Description

# of employees? It doesn’t matter, as long as the culture is that of a start-up

Type of company: Pre-IPO, Public, Private? Pre-IPO, Private preferably, OK working at Public if still relatively small (5k-10k) or really changing the world (i.e. Google)

Location? Location must be Bay Area, ideally HQ location

Global/local customer base? Must be a company that is either Global or has the potential to go Global

What type of culture? The culture is fun, work hard play harder attitude. Not so formal, unless you need to be, and strive to do the best. Ideally a company culture that is out to change the world but not necessary. Company to really make an impact in whatever they are doing. Last but not least, culture of nerds that are cool. I love working with really smart people.

What type of Industry? Industry could be travel, tech, pharmaceutical, transportation, finance or education, but as long as the projects are fun, any industry works.

Growth rate? Looking for a company that is growing in order to grow as a professional with in it.

What type of leaderships? What are their qualities? Leaders must be trustable, motivational, intelligent, well respected, and willing to have fun.

2. My Contribution and Impact

Why are you working Three things excite me: growth (revenue or users/communities), efficiency, and analytics. I love applying this to real world problems and leaving an impact.

I love seeing a finished product (or service) I’ve worked on — taking something from concept to tangible gives me satisfaction.

What is your legacy? A leader in building communities/partnerships, strategic thinker and problem solver.

Purpose To make an impact in whatever I do. Creating something tangible that changes the way people do business or build relationships or travel or …

3. Responsibilities

Here you need to spit it out, go to specific details and focus on talents, not skills. Don’t be shy and include some responsibilities you’re not fully qualified for (70% you are, 30% you are not and will be stretched). If needed, get inspiration from job postings.

  • Supporting strategic engagement and strong institutional relationships with partners and clients
  • Developing and implementing tools, strategies, and processes to best represent company to all of our partners
  • Leading internal and external initiatives
  • Supporting the professional development of my team, through feedback, coaching, and a range of strategies to quickly and effectively master new skills
  • Taking projects from conception to implementation, and ensuring both buy-in and strong execution along the way
  • Identifying, gathering, and presenting data to drive recommendations and decisions
  • Coaching and managing a team to meet ambitious goals, achieve organizational strategy, and constantly overcome obstacles
  • Synthesizing data, information, and discussions from within the organization and across the company to inform and strengthen our work
  • Designing immediate and longer-term solutions to address issues
  • Producing high-quality deliverables for external and internal audiences
  • Help team of engineers and product designers work efficiently and effectively
  • Analyze and respond to key metrics
  • Manage an up-to-date schedule for product development
  • Design and produce large scale global events
  • … and everything else that needs to be done to get it done

#4. Requirements

Here use education level, years of experience, hard skills and soft skills. Once you’ve define the requirements, as you write your resume/LinkedIN profile, or create your interview stories, find the gaps and fill those gaps with talents/experience.

  • Strong analytical skills, with a willingness to dig into data and ability to navigate around a code base
  • BS/MS in Engineering or equivalent
  • MBA or equivalent skill set
  • Exceptional communication and presentation skills
  • Experience designing and managing complex projects, building models, performing analysis, and packaging and presenting results for a range of audiences
  • A track record of simultaneously managing multiple projects and timelines
  • Demonstrated experience influencing and motivating stakeholders through informal relationships
  • A passion for the mission of the company
  • Foreign language
  • Cultural understanding

#5 Job Title

Manager, Strategic Partnerships

Product manager

Project manager

Manager, Global Product Partnerships

Part 2 coming soon…..

In Part 2 I’ll share the step by step process I went through to land the dream job at Coursera as a University Partnerships Manager for Ibero-America.