Interview with Heather Hatlo Porter-Chief Communications Officer at Chegg

Heather is the Chief Communications Officer of Chegg, an ed-tech company transforming the way students learn by reconnecting the link between learning and earning. At Chegg, she oversees both internal and external communications, policy and advocacy work, and the company’s philanthropic endeavors. However, like many of today’s modern women, she is multi-faceted. She is a leader, a mother, a mentor, a friend, an advocate for students, an ally, and much more.  I reached out to Heather when I was an intern at Chegg, as I wanted to learn what she did to walk with purpose, confidence, and strength. After our chat, I learned that she came from humble beginnings and had an insane work ethic. During our first chat, she said, “If there is no room for you at the table, bring your own chair and make room for yourself.” Time and time again, she has given me great advice, so I wanted to share some of her wisdom through this interview. What message or advice would you give to recent graduates right now? First, you have to stay optimistic. We are living in an unprecedented time in our lives, and it is very challenging, but out of the most challenging and dark moments, beautiful things come from that. I keep seeing that image of the phoenix that rises from the ashes. I think a lot of people and communities are going to rise after this very uncertain time in history – and I am here for that! Second, I wouldn’t get defeated by the economic uncertainty right now. There’s still a lot that recent grads can do to keep themselves busy and to develop their skills. Volunteering, starting a new blog, or getting involved in any hobbies or areas of interest that you’re passionate about will keep your mind sharp and may open doors to future employment opportunities. And, I say this to all the interns all the time, but you really have to network, network, network. And don’t think you don’t have a network to start with. Even if you haven’t held a job reach out to professors and people that you know that are in the professional world and stay in touch with them. It’s harder now, given we are all living and working virtually, so you have to work at it, but it’s doable, and people will take the time if you reach out. How do you overcome feeling down and still perform at your best? Right now, I don’t overcome it. I really allow myself to feel what I’m feeling at the time. Some days are not easy, and it’s not to say that I’m not incredibly grateful for all the blessings that I have, but there are days where I feel like I’m struggling. I just allow myself to feel that way, and I don’t try to deny it. I actually think it’s really unhealthy to suppress those feelings. There’s that saying, “fake it till you make it,” but sometimes you just can’t fake it. We are all human beings, and there’s nobody that has it all together all the time. Nobody is saying, “I got this shelter-in-place thing down” because things are constantly evolving, and it is different for everyone. Some days you might feel isola