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Careers: An Interview with Katie DeVito

October 26, 2010

Katie DeVito has become a modern-day heroine for New Jersey’s unemployed. The current recession certainly makes finding a position for those not working more difficult. Earlier this year, Ms. Devito was laid off, which led her to post a tweet on Twitter, which eventually triggered her to form the LinkedIn group NJ Unemployed, and now there’s even a website NJ PARADE magazine selected her as one of five individuals to chronicle for three months in their job search. Katie was paired with a career advisor, which led her to getting an interview on CBS’s Early Show. The publicity opened doors for her, and eventually guided her to start her own social media and public relations company, Katie DeVito, LLC. Ms. DeVito’s tweet gave her empowerment, and led her to think outside of the box. She is truly an inspiration to all those seeking employment. I decided I wanted to share her story, and spoke with her about her decisions.

Katie, what is your background?

Katie DeVito: Non-profit association management. I worked for a few non-profit organizations handling membership, event planning, communications and more. My career advisor asked me what I’m good at, and I replied singing, social media, and public relations. I have a degree from Rider University in Fine Arts and Sociology.

What guided you to be proactive and start the group NJ Unemployed?

Katie DeVito: This was my second round of unemployment. The first time I didn’t think outside of the box. This second time I sent out a tweet right after I received my notice. I wanted to network with others who were also unemployed, and share information with those who needed assistance. Since I’m not a career expert, I reached out to career coaches and human resource professionals to provide content for my website as well as provide valuable seminars for my group.

Starting a new business is a big leap. Obviously, it was not your first option because you had been unemployed for a few months before making this decision. What inspired you to such an undertaking?

Katie DeVito: I learned a lot working for non-profit organizations. I didn’t think about it in February [when laid off]. I started the company in June. I had been branding myself in social media, as well as branding NJ Unemployed. Individuals started reaching out to me to represent them. So I registered the business, and joined two chambers of commerce.

Did you run into any obstacles starting up?

Katie DeVito: No.

Was it a simple process or was there a lot of red tape?

It was straight forward, and I did it all online. There’s a check list [to guide you].

There are many who would like to start a business, but not sure of the costs involved, and being unemployed might mean they don’t have disposable funds. Were there many expenses in starting up?

Katie DeVito: There were no major expenses. It costs about $200 to file the paperwork. It definitely wasn’t more than $300.

If you were offered a full-time position today as a social media director for a mid-sized company, would you take it, or forfeit it to pursue your dreams?

Katie DeVito: I would not take the job. My business is growing, and I couldn’t be happier. I love being a business owner. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me.

How do you think people perceive you?

Katie DeVito: I hope people perceive me as someone helping the community, and adding value. A resource. I started NJ Unemployed on a whim. I’d like to be known as being approachable, and a success story of someone who thought outside of the box.

If people were to google you, what do you hope they’ll find?

Katie DeVito: I hope they find my blog posts, experience with Parade magazine, my articles, my company, and my unemployed group.

Is there any advice you’d like to give those who are unemployed?

Katie DeVito: Get out there and network. Tell people you’re looking for work. Be visible amongst the community, either face to face, or online. Use hash tags [#] for jobs on Twitter. Recruiters are looking for keywords on LinkedIn, so use as many as you can [in your profile]. Recruiters must pay $10,000 to post jobs on Monster [.com] yearly. LinkedIn is FREE. Get on it [LinkedIn] if you’re not. You can get introduced to hiring managers through your contacts.

Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Katie DeVito: Go out there and do what you love, and the money will come. It might not be [something] in your résumé, and it won’t happen overnight.

I’d like to thank Katie DeVito for taking the time to speak with me. I love the way she has re-invented herself. She is one of the positive role models we need in these economic times, and is a true inspiration! For those of you who are unemployed, underemployed or working part-time but looking for full-time employment, whether or not you live in New Jersey, please read her blog NJ Unemployed. Also, if you have a LinkedIn account, and according to Katie you should have one, consider joining the NJ Unemployment group for support, information, and notices about guest speakers. You can also follow her on Twitter where this journey began at @kdevito and @njunemployed.



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