My 5 TakeAways from the Texas Conference for Women

Written by Jennifer Haston, HomeAway Customer Support Supervisor

I was privileged to attend the 2018 Texas Conference for Women thanks to HomeAway. It's my dream to speak there someday, but one step at a time folks!

One of the many things I love about Expedia Group and HomeAway is their commitment to knowledge and learning. Many programs are offered internally that allow for professional and personal development. It’s such a joy to be able to take advantage of these programs and the opportunity to attend conferences like this. 

There were 7,500 people in attendance at this year’s conference. Take a minute, drink that in.

7,500 attendees (mostly women) and it was great to see some men as well! 

The day started with a breakfast session with (Anne Grady) about balance being bogus. It really set the tone for my day because my normal habit in an environment like this is to take copious notes (which I never look at again) and really MISS out on the opportunity to BE there.

 Luvvie Ajayi and I after her session.

Luvvie Ajayi and I after her session.

Anne asked us to think about what we would do to really BE at the conference. 

Some suggestions in the room were:

I was fed, motivated and ready to start the day.

There were so many takeaways from this conference, but for time’s sake I’ll share my favorite highlights.

  1. Always be early. This ensures that you’ll snag a good seat and it allows time to review the conference guide.

  2. "We need accomplices, not allies."- Luvvie Ajayi

  3. “Small Potential is the limited success we can attain alone. Big potential is what we can achieve together.” - Shawn Achor

  4. "Choose discomfort over resentment." - Brené Brown It's not comfortable to say no, especially for women. We want to do it all, have it all and be ALL things. If you say no, you will be uncomfortable in the moment, but you won't resent the person you shouldn’t have said "yes" to in the first place.

  5. Be bold and ask questions, it often leads to great discussion! This applies to individual networking, local meetings, and conferences.

If there is a conference for women in your state, I highly recommend attending. Also, encourage your company to sponsor employees to attend or sponsor a booth like HomeAway did at the 2017 conference!

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to be part of Team HomeAway? Follow us on social media or visit our careers page!

Fast Track Your Career From Entry Level to Next Level

Working at the front desk is the perfect career launchpad to many departments within HomeAway. Why? As a front desk assistant, you’re “in the know” with office happenings, open roles, and it’s a chance to connect with everyone from the president to the security guards. Kylie Saurage, Emily Swansey, and Tiffany Lee share how their careers have changed since working at the front desk and how you can take the next step too!

Q: What originally interested you in working at HomeAway?

 Kylie working at the font desk at our Domain office.

Kylie working at the font desk at our Domain office.

Kylie: The first time I heard of HomeAway was when we had a stage at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2015. I started as a contractor picking up shifts for the front desk here and there. I thought the atmosphere, company culture, and the people were super rad.

Emily: I also started working at HomeAway as a contractor covering the front desk back in 2012. That eventually led to an opportunity to work for the HomeAway Software team. When my contract with HomeAway Software ended in late 2012, I was crushed because I genuinely loved working for HomeAway. I worked for another company for nine months, applying to various roles at HomeAway, before finally finding my way back as a full-time front desk coordinator.

Q: How did working at the front desk prepare you for your current role?

Kylie: It allowed me to interact with many different people at HomeAway so when I became a recruiting coordinator, I already had great relationships established with many of the hiring managers. There were also a lot of ad-hoc projects I worked on at the front desk that prepared me for all of the coordination I do now.

 Tiffany with another former front desk assistant.

Tiffany with another former front desk assistant.

Tiffany: When I was a front desk coordinator, we were still a small startup. We had 65 employees in Austin and had just acquired a company with 60 employees in another city. I was responsible for many things outside the regular duties of answering the phone, office upkeep, and greeting visitors. For example, I organized our first food drive by pitting different departments against each other. The result was almost four tons of food! We had to rent U-Haul trucks to get it to the food bank. Also, when there was an executive fire, I got to help put it out. The best though? Knowing everyone in the company. That visibility is how I transitioned into a marketing role in just one year without any formal marketing experience. Now I’m the Employer Brand Manager. The rest is history.

 Kat and team at Spredfast Summit in Austin.

Kat and team at Spredfast Summit in Austin.

Emily: It paved the way for me to transition to the social media  team at HomeAway. We have several offices in Austin and I think it’s easy for people to feel trapped and unfamiliar with other departments. Being at the front desk allowed me to network with employees and learn where my interests were, but the work didn’t stop there. I reached out to employees to get additional insight on their roles and departments. I also offered to work on side projects in my free time. In the process, I learned a lot more about the company and how genuinely nice and caring #TeamHomeAway is.

What are your tips for someone who wants to get a job at HomeAway?

Kylie: General tips for job hunting would be to make sure your resume is in tip-top shape. Bad grammar and spelling are red flags. Also, be courteous to everyone you interact with at HomeAway from your coordinator to the front desk person. Everyone will let the recruiter know if someone is acting up!

 Tiffany dressed up for her first HomeAway Halloween.

Tiffany dressed up for her first HomeAway Halloween.

Tiffany: Be diligent. Understand your skill set and how it might provide value to HomeAway. Be able to articulate that. Be yourself. If it’s not a fit right now, it could be later. Listen to the feedback and apply it to your next career move so you can come back with those skills and try again. Persist. Believe in yourself and the value you bring.

Emily: If you’re already working at HomeAway and you’re interested in another team, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Reach out and ask an employee to meet you for coffee or maybe chat over a bowl of snacks in the bistro. There is also an amazing mentor program available now that makes it easier to connect with other teams.

 Tiffany (center) showing off her t-shirt quilt made from HomeAway shirts she’s collected during her 11 years with the company.

Tiffany (center) showing off her t-shirt quilt made from HomeAway shirts she’s collected during her 11 years with the company.

How does the position you’re currently in resonate with your skills?

Tiffany: I love connecting with employees and potential employees to share the mission, goals and values of HomeAway and Expedia Group. Talent Brand offers many channels for me to help employees tell their HomeAway stories and to make those connections with people considering HomeAway for their next career move.

 Emily’s creativity and love for social media extends beyond her role at HomeAway. View her photography on  Instagram .

Emily’s creativity and love for social media extends beyond her role at HomeAway. View her photography on Instagram.

Emily: As a millennial, I’ve always had the internet at my fingertips. I grew up in a small town where there was very little going on and the internet, specifically social media (hello MySpace and Friendster), was an awesome way for me to connect with people in other states or countries. When the opportunity opened up on the social media team, I knew I had to jump on it. I handle all of our-day to-day conversations with travelers and partners on Twitter and Facebook. It’s so interesting to see how people interact with us as a brand.

Want to join Team HomeAway or learn more about our benefits and perks? Visit our careers page!

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8 Things You Missed at Grace Hopper 2018

We’re all settled back into our offices and finally getting a chance to reflect on our inspiring weekend in Houston for the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration. If you’ve never attended GHC, just imagine thousands of women clad in sneakers and t-shirts running between panel sessions, career booths, and coffee meetups. With 20,000 attendees, things can get a little chaotic and it’s easy to miss small details from the week. These are the eight things you might of missed from GHC 18.

1. The energizing keynote from Jessica O. Matthews who tested out her Pulse jump rope invention in heels. Girl’s got major skills.

2. Forget headshots, how about latte art with your face!


3. HomeAway Senior Data Analyst, Nikole Phillips’ first time at GHC and getting an incredible selfie with Anita Hill.


4. Sock giveaway at the HomeAway networking lounge! Because who doesn’t need socks with birdhouses on them?

5. HomeAway Software Engineer, Kuldeep Chowan, sharing his experience about going serverless during his panel discussion.


6. So. Much. Swag. From custom printed phone cases to tech tacos, there was no leaving Grace Hopper empty-handed.

7. Exploring the digital map of people’s dream travel destinations at the Expedia Group booth.

8. Meeting up with friends from other Austin companies like Indeed! Grace Hopper is the perfect opportunity to catch up with people in your network.


How My Job Helped me Score the Ultimate Gig

In 2016, Pete Parsons visited the HomeAway London office and took an unexpected weekend trip to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The festival was simply mind-blowing and returning to Edinburgh became Pete’s ultimate goal. With a little help from friends and Team HomeAway, he performed at the festival two years later. Pete is sharing how staying passionate about your hobbies can help you achieve a better work-life balance while keeping your personal brand on point.


Q: What is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and how did you get to perform?

Pete: “It started when I visited the HomeAway office in London for a couple weeks and I heard about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from a coworker so I decided to go for the weekend. It’s the largest performing arts festival in the world with over 3,500 performances in August and after that visit I knew I wanted to be part of it. The application process was pretty easy, I just had to pitch my performance to sponsors and wait to see who would pick it up.”

Q: How did you get your start in improv and theater?

Pete: “I’ve been doing comedy since I was in high school and I’ve continued acting in my free time. The comedy show I have now is called “Secret Mountain,” it has a “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” flair, but my show is geared toward adult humor. I also teach improv locally. I ran a few workshops at the McCombs Business School at the University of Texas, Austin and I led a session with our President’s Apprentice group at HomeAway. It was cool getting to share the art of improv with people at HomeAway because I feel like there are many positive elements that can help within the workplace.”


Q: Was it difficult coordinating international travel for a large group?

Pete: “It was a little difficult to coordinate because I had to bring multiple casts from Chicago and the Austin improv community because not everyone has the same number of vacation days. We also had to raise funds to help with transportation and lodging while we were there. My HomeAway team was very supportive with that endeavor. They donated to my fundraiser, hung up “Secret Mountain” posters around the office, and even came to some of my local performances.”

Q: That’s great your team was supportive! Were you nervous about being away from work for two weeks?

Pete: “My manager was supportive from the beginning and never discouraged me for taking that amount of time off. I even offered to work remotely and they were like absolutely not you’re on vacation!”


Q: What was the highlight of your experience at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

Pete: “The highlight for me was just actually accomplishing my goal and getting to the festival. When we plugged in everything for our rehearsal and they started playing the theme song for our show it really hit me that I made it. In the beginning of the week there were just a few people in the audience, but as the week went on more people began to show up and some even came back for repeat performances.”

Q: How did HomeAway and your team play a role in this experience?

Pete: “Without a doubt this would not have been possible without the resources HomeAway offered me such as sending me on my first work trip to London two years ago and being able to take that much time off. It was so nice being able to take two weeks off and not have to think about work at all. I feel like I’m encouraged to pursue my passions in and out of the office. By the end of the festival, I was ready to return to work and my normal schedule. I couldn’t wait to get home and share my stories with my teammates!”


Q: Any advice for someone who wants to take their side hustle or hobby to the next level while working a full-time job?

Pete: “It's important to use your vacation days to enjoy culture and immerse yourself more in your hobby. If you can’t take an extended amount of time off, just take a break and go to an art exhibit, see a local play, or attend an event that’s related to your hobby. I highly recommend going to this festival though if possible, it's truly a fascinating global event. It's great to see so many countries coming together to celebrate art.

You can find Pete at Fallout Theater on Saturday nights performing with improv group “Sweet Lightning.”

Want to join Team HomeAway or learn more about our benefits and perks? Visit our careers page!

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