Take it from us, a Portland technical recruitment firm. We deal with a whole spectrum of technology recruitment, from technology executive search through IT staffing, and we know: An employer's brand makes a huge difference in attracting the best technology talent.
Positioning your company as a brand your employees are proud of not only helps you attract even more great people, it also increases the overall value of your brand.
Big technology companies in places like San Francisco or New York can tout their location and facilities. As Portland technology recruiters, we love Portland dearly, but we do know it's not a huge hub, and that most companies here don't have vast campuses filled with luxurious amenities.
So if you're a smaller tech company located in a medium-sized city, how do you set your employment brand apart in a competitive technology jobs market?
Four simple steps to effective employment branding
Many of the things you already do for your company can be leveraged to boost your employment brand.
1. Coordinate branding between marketing and human resources. While a brand can be expressed in different contexts, there should be just one brand. Make sure your human resources department and recruitment firm (if you have one) understand your branding, and have access to all your company's marketing and branding collateral. Have your HR and recruitment folks meet with your marketing people from time to time, so they can work together and make sure your brand is communicated in recruitment ads, at job fairs and in other recruitment efforts.
2. Develop your employer value proposition. Think about your communications to potential employees just as you think about communicating to any of your target markets. You want to communicate the value of your company as an employer, just as you communicate the value of your products and services. Make sure potential employees can quickly and easily find information and get a basic understanding of your company's working environment, culture, values, and management style.
3. Make sure all communications are on-message. From job postings to employer campaigns to online recruitment materials, ensuring consistency hammers home your brand voice and creates a sense of credibility.
4. Put your recruitment materials online. For all the time that tech companies put into developing compelling, beautifully designed recruitment materials, it's surprisingly rare for these to make it onto the company's website. You don't need to pay a developer to integrate them in a clever or interactive way - just link to your print materials in .pdf format. Choosing a job is a major, life-changing decision for anyone, and if you provide better information about your company, you'll get better qualified candidates.
Looking for some great examples?
Atlassian, a maker of product tracking software, has a terrific careers page. It's not just one page, either - there's a series of slides, each touting another great reason for working at the company. Anyone who spends even a few minutes on this page will understand that transparency, collaboration, and flexibility are some of Atlassian's most important values. Note: Every slide offers a "learn more" link to deeper information.
Jive Software, which develops social platforms for business, takes the cake for consumer and employer brand consistency by touching people's hunger for a better, more social working life. The company's introductory video frankly addresses the points we all encounter in the workplace, addressing them in a way that's consistent with Jive's brand.
Google has a reputation for extensive - and expensive - perks. But a blog post by Google's top executive for People Operations, Laszlo Bock, points out that most of what really makes Google special doesn't cost a thing. Bock offers suggestions for ways that small and medium-sized companies, too, can make employees feel valued, special and committed to the company's mission.
We're always looking for new role models to learn from. Know any other companies that do a great job of communicating brand in their recruitment efforts? What's your company doing to set itself apart? Please comment below.
Let’s face it: Hard to find technology professionals around the country expect a lot of perks. It is no different with Portland I.T., Software and Engineering talent where demand is high, qualified talent is rare and competition is fierce.
I recently worked with a candidate who immediately turned down a job that would have been a $5,000 increase in salary just because the dress code was “business casual” and he was a “jeans and shorts kinda guy.”
So how do you get your developers to turn down a $5k raise and stick with your company? Competitive compensation is basically a given, as are flexible work hours. But it’s that elusive, seemingly intangible tech-y culture that keeps them around.
Lucky for you, we’re making the intangible tangible by breaking it down into 7 concrete propositions that will help you build a successful IT culture, attract the best talent and protect them from headhunters like us.
- Complex problems. Challenging work isn’t just a perk for IT personnel — it’s absolutely essential to differentiate your business in a competitive marketplace. For many developers, the idea of taking a difficult process apart and reconstructing it to make it cleaner, faster and more efficient is as rewarding as it is demanding. If you can offer your team the chance to work on complex projects, you’re not only likely to attract better talent; they’re also more likely to stick around.
- Big data. Got more data on-hand than you know what to do? It’ll keep your developers happy. Tracking every movement right down to click-level transforms development from a basic problem-solving proposition into an iterative process of continuous refinement and testing. Perhaps more importantly, it helps create better products.
- Talented peers. Having a high hiring standard is critical for a strong, cohesive IT culture. Working alongside peers at or above their skill level reduces frustration, boosts team morale and makes for a more collaborative environment. My old boss used to tell me to fall the big timber. Get great talent and others want to come work with them.
- Frequent launches. While a great deal of the challenge and joy is in the process itself, there’s perhaps nothing quite as satisfying as seeing your work go live. Frequent product and feature launches let developers see their work get put to use – while simultaneously keeping them on a high-output production schedule.
- Bleeding-edge technology. From unfamiliar programming languages and development environments to cutting-edge development processes like Agile, working with new technologies is an appealing proposition to many developers. It’s both intellectually and practically challenging. Plus it helps personnel develop valuable skills that keep them and the company at the forefront of technological advancement.
- Project ownership. Allowing individuals and teams to take ownership over projects from development to launch and beyond promotes accountability, company commitment and job satisfaction. This is arguably true of any position, but it is perhaps especially true for highly technical and autonomous teams.
- Consumer-centricity. The goal of empowering the end-user is one of the strongest trends within the development community at large today. A focus on user experience and transparency is common among the current generation of developers. From Apple’s radically user-friendly products to the proliferation of open source software like Firefox and programming languages like Python, it’s readily evident how dramatically the IT world has shifted. Finding a company that’s committed to these same values is a big selling point for some developers.
How important are these trends to you or your company? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below! Can you also name the late gifted computer scientist in the body of the blog? (not Data from Star Trek)
If you or your spouse are looking for a technology job in Portland, we're happy to report the opportunities are diverse and plentiful.
As Portland IT Recruiters, we're proud to be a part of a vibrant technology community in Portland. Thanks to a growing start-up scene and the expansion of well-established tech companies in the Portland area, the Silicon Forest is thriving. With the low cost of commercial rents compared to other technology hubs, high quality of life, cheap electricity, and a DIY culture, it's easy to see why.
High-tech manufacturing, software development and renewable energy companies have all taken root in and around the City of Roses. Let us give you a glimpse into some of the most exciting technology industries in Portland.
Portland high-tech manufacturing companies are world-class
FEI Company - (NASDAQ: FEIC) Ever wonder who makes electron microscopes? (We're technical recruiters - electron microscopes push out geek buttons!) FEI is a leader in electron microscope and focused ion beam technologies for nanoscale researchers. If you know what those are, we applaud you. FEI's global headquarters are right outside of Portland in Hillsboro, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Portland.
Intel Corporation - (NASDAQ: INTC) If you own a computer, chances are pretty high it has an Intel microprocessor in it. While Intel's headquarters are in Santa Clara, California, the semiconductor development and manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, just outside of Portland, is Intel's largest, employing nearly 16,000 Oregonians. With seven campuses and on-site amenities that rival those of a small city, Intel Oregon is the largest private-sector employer in the Portland metro area.
Portland software companies - varied and successful
Jama Software - Privately held, locally-grown Jama builds software for managing complex projects that have many requirements - for example, devices must pass the Food and Drug Administration approval process. Jama has won many recognitions since its founding in 2007, and is regarded as one of Portland's most promising technology companies. It has about 50 employees.
Jive Software Inc. - (NASDAQ: JIVE) We've been keeping an eye on this rapidly growing business. Now headquartered in Palo Alto, California, Jive has 200 employees in Portland, where it was headquartered for a few years. Jive's social business platform has been so popular, the company executed a successful IPO in December 2011 raising more than $160 million.
the CLYMB-For those who find their passion in the outdoors, The Clymb inspires human-powered adventure by delivering member-exclusive 72-hour sales on premium brands and experiences, hand-picked by our team of fellow enthusiasts and experts. Membership is free, allowing users to shape the community by inviting like-minded friends. The company is based in Portland, Ore., and was founded in 2009 by a seasoned team of outdoor and sport industry veterans.
Urban Airship - Mobile technology company Urban Airship creates tools for app developers. One of the beneficiaries of Wieden+Kennedy's Portland Incubator Experiment, Urban Airship has received more than $20 million in venture funding since its genesis in 2009. True to the start-up stereotype, the company has in part been so successful due to its emphasis on creating a fun environment to attract and retain talent.
Webtrends - One of the first players in web analytics, Webtrends is privately held and headquartered in downtown Portland. Its analytics software is used by companies that have large, complex websites, including The New York Times and Microsoft. Webtrends employs nearly 400 people worldwide, with about half in Portland.
Renewable energy companies abound in Portland
ClearEdge Power - ClearEdge Power manufactures fuel cells that efficiently transform natural gas into electricity and heat. Think miniature, refrigerator-sized power plants. The start-up recently signed a $500 million, 50-megawatt deal with Austrian company Gussing Renewable Energy GmbH - the biggest deal yet for a fuel cell company.
SolarWorld - (FWB: SWV) German solar panel manufacturer SolarWorld has its U.S. headquarters 20 minutes west of Portland in Hillsboro, Oregon, where it employs about 1,000 Oregonians. Its Hillsboro location is the largest solar cell manufacturing facility in North America.
If you want to learn more about technology jobs in Portland, Oregon, we highly recommend you visit the Silicon Florist blog to get updates on the latest technology jobs and news in Portland. Or, search our job listings here.
We are excited to be going as a team to the FriendsRaiser tonight. Should be a great evening of good food, wine, and company. We hope FOTC raises a bunch of $$ for the kids! Thank you to all of our clients and contractors that help give to this great organization through their business and hard work respectively!
More than 750 of Portland’s business and community leaders gathered together on Thursday, May 12, 2011 for the 2011 Friend Raiser presented by KeyBank. Last year’s event raised more than $1.4 million!
Thanks to the continued success of this event, Friends of the Children has been able to provide professional mentors to more of our community’s most vulnerable children. We have increased the number of youth we serve to over 375 children in over 100 schools in the Portland metropolitan area. We extend a heartfelt thank you to all sponsors, donors, guests, volunteers and everyone involved in making each Friend Raiser a huge success!
The Quest Foundation is offering a generous Challenge Match of $132,000 at this year’s Friend Raiser. This funding will support 4 Friends and 32 youth in our program. We hope you will help us to reach our goal! Make a donation now.
We hope you’ll join us this year! For additional questions please contact Allison Pauletto at email@example.com.
Corporate sponsorship opportunities are still available. Benefits and levels are outlined here. Purchase your corporate sponsorship here.
Parking is available under the medical building and the open-air lots on 2800 N Graham Street. A shuttle driver will be available.
How do we define Technical Recruitment? At EnGn (www.theEnGn.com), a specialized technical staffing firm in Portland, OR, we like to say it is the closest thing to being a professional athlete as it comes.
Probably doesn’t make sense, but I will elaborate more. A professional athlete experiences the highest highs and lowest lows during a single game. In one moment an incredible play or shot puts you in the lead only to have victory snatched from your grasp by late foul charge and a 45 yard field goal. The emotional and physical roller coaster is hard to match. While our bodies may not be getting abused by a 300 pound slab of muscle trained to kill us, in technical recruitment we still ride the highs and lows. An example is when we find and recruit a person that represents .0003% of the workforce who is a gifted software architect capable of designing enterprise, Ios or droid mobile, and cloud base applications willing to move to Portland Oregon and make 10% less than the market is commanding. YES..! Finding that person is like hitting a three pointer at the buzzer. There are days when we scour the landscape for technical talent only to receive 25 no’s, 15 maybes, and 7 hang ups – brutal right? Not even close. Making calls to people and offering an opportunity to consider $125k+ job is not so bad. Our lows are when you found the person (mentioned aboved) and then walk them right up the finish line where our client loves them, they love the job and client, and then have the offer declined because the "trailing partner" gets accepted to a PHD program for the study of micro-chameleons in Madagascar. Now that stings! Your candidate is gone, client is blown-away because they just saw their window to build the next best thing vanish and we are sitting empty handed with a substantial fee wiped from the proverbial WIN board.
Suck it up! "First place is a new Cadillac, second place is a set of steak knives, third place is... you're fired" This is a game where you are guaranteed to be under .500. You WILL lose more than you win.
You may ask, why do people jump into this career then? My answer will be formulated during this 6 month blog topic, but I will leave you with one word and one phrase. Word: Adrenaline. Phrase: I am 5 foot 8, with a size 9 shoe size; I will never be a pro athlete. Stay tuned for our next edition of “the day in the life of technical recruitment” as we will dive deep into the caverns of this profession.
This blog entry represents a counter argument for using a service my company sells. Trust I know the narrative that follows will be controversial within my own industry. However, I believe that it will show flaws with one of the services we sell and commit to provide here at EnGn and in that self reflection we become better . There are some answers and solutions that I will hi-light that will be a differentiator in subsequent blogs. Certainly the intent is not to marginalize one of the very services that will put food on the table for me and my colleagues. The true intent is to provide visibility into a primary continency staffing agency business model. Which means a firm only gets paid when they find someone for the job. It works very well in providing needed talent for many of our customers but also can be defeating on far more difficult to fill roles. The learning opportunity is for businesses/clients to recognize the signs of a failed search when they are showing up, what to do about it, and how other services can meet their needs.
I believe many who have not had the chance to fundamentally wrap their head around the primary business model; that permeates the recruiting industry, misunderstands the primary drivers and pitfalls. Understanding those variables, basic economics, and business motivators goes a long way in clearing up the challenges of the standard contingent (pay only when a hire is made) model. My wonderful wife indicates that I can take too much time to get to the point, nevertheless the stories I tell will illuminate the conflict in the plot. So let the storytelling begin .
Please imagine a profitable, private, and small to mid-sized business named XTECH, located in the Portland Metropolitan area. Their exact location is neither super attractive nor disappointing but rather non-descript in downtown. XTECH has a decent employment brand, if recognized at all, but what they are known for is hiring really solid talent, in other words their “bar” is high and anybody going there will work with smart people. They use some of the latest software development technology (but not all) within the Microsoft stack and are an agile SDLC shop. Their compensation is on the competitive side but not in the top 15% percentile, bonuses again are competitive, when paid out. XTECH also has middle of the road Health care benefits. Their product is an interesting, complex, data driven, web native, n-tiered architected application. Let’s imagine XTECH opens two positions, an Architect and a Sr. Mobile Applications developer. To fill these positions they sign up, at first, 3 agencies to compete with each other. Each agency is contracted at 15% of base salary. A hefty sum for sure considering the roles could, and probably will, demand a salary of over $110K. XTECH waits and initially receives 6-10 candidates out of the gates in the first 2 weeks. None of the candidates fit after an initial pass whether on resume review or brief phone interviews; another 2 weeks pass and a few candidates trickle in. It is clear these are hard to fill positions. 2 more weeks and there are no new candidates. The business is reeling because they need the positions filled and a month and a half has already passed. What has happened?
Here is what happened and why agencies can get a bad name and positions languish unfilled. They stopped working on it!! Simple business economics rooted in the contingent business model does not allow them to keep applying time and resources. These firms are working for free. The more resources they put towards the hard to fill position the more unprofitable they become. Those first candidates were the low hanging fruit (Monster, Dice, etc.) Everything after that takes true "Head Hunting" and mandates a plan, discipline, persistence, time, and money. The 3 original agencies were forced, not because they are bad firms, financially to focus on positions that were mathematically more likely to fill and earn money. Sure, XTECH could keep adding agencies and even up the percentage of salary regarding the fee. It won’t change the problem. There is a chance they could get their hires over a longer period of time but the time to fill can be very limiting and expensive to their business. This company is a victim of common supply and demand challenge seen as the talent wars for technical expertise shifts. So what is the answer? Stay tuned for XTECH 2 soon to be released.
As you may know we have been working with Friends of the Children (FOTC) for quite a few years. They are a great organization and have continued to accelerate their impact in the Portland area and nationally with helping kids. We are raising money for their bowl-a-thon this year and have sponsored a lane at the event. Any amount helps. Thanks in advance for helping such a great organization. Go here to donate!
October 7, 2011
This is really cool to see Friend of the Children get this kind of recognition. Absolutely love it. Check it out:
For Children at Risk, Mentors Who Stay
-By DAVID BORNSTEIN
Samuel was out of control. He cursed at his teacher, refused to do school work, attacked other kids in the schoolyard — and Samuel was still in kindergarten. His home life was chaotic. He’d never met his father. His mother had emotional and drug problems and was unable to care for him. His grandmother did her best. His older brother was involved in violent crime and had been in and out of jail. He taught Samuel to smoke marijuana when he was 6 years old.
If this story had continued on its trajectory, Samuel (not his real name) would have likely been one of the million American students who drop out of school each year. He would be at serious risk of getting entangled in the justice system and becoming a young parent who perpetuates the cycle of neglect and violence.
"To children at risk back on track, long-term commitment is the key."
But Samuel was fortunate to get connected with an unusual mentoring program called Friends of the Children — and because of it, he’ll probably graduate from high school and has a good chance to live a productive and satisfying life. After eight years in Friends, he has learned how to form respectful relationships. He shows and receives affection and can control his temper. Academically, he is performing at grade level (eighth grade) in math and reading. He has learned to swim, and has had the chance to kayak, rock climb and play tennis. And he’s seen parts of New York — the Metropolitan Museum, the Big Apple Circus, the Central Park Zoo — that he might never have visited in his life, though he lives only a few miles away in Harlem. His home life is still difficult, but Kareem Wright, the program director at Friends in New York, says he now handles his emotions so well that he has become a role model for other kids. “He’s very street smart,” says Wright, “but he channels that to help the younger kids and he gets a lot of respect from his peers.”
Over the past decade and a half, mentoring has been on the rise in the United States, with close to a quarter of a billion dollars of federal funding devoted to mentoring programs since 2008. There are thousands of mentoring programs in the country serving three million youths. Mentoring is rare in that it enjoys enthusiastic support from conservatives and liberals alike, and has been championed by both the Obama and Bush administrations. Dozens of states and cities have launched mentoring programs, and many corporations have their own initiatives. If there is one thing that Americans seem to agree on, it is that millions of children desperately need guidance from positive adult role models.
But in the world of mentoring, Friends of the Children stands out because of the children it targets and the commitment it makes. Most mentoring programs engage a wide range of young people, but Friends works with public schools in high poverty areas to select only the children who are experiencing the most severe behavioral and emotional problems.
Michael McDermottKeeping up with academics is an essential part of Friends. This young girl has worked with mentor Temmecha Turner for over a year. Together they focus on reading, problem solving and other life skills.
They go to classrooms and look for children who are not just acting out aggressively like Samuel, but who are withdrawn, depressed or display a marked absence of emotion. They don’t just assess the family situation — many kids have a staggering array of challenges but also natural resilience — they look for children who are overwhelmed by their circumstances. And where most mentoring programs make connections that last from 9 to 18 months, Friends guarantees its children 12 years of continuous mentoring at least four hours every week with no summer breaks — typically beginning in kindergarten and extending until high school graduation.
To make it work, Friends asks mentors to make at least a three-year commitment and hires them as full-time employees. They attract young teachers and social service workers as well as people in their post-retirement encore careers. Each mentor is responsible for eight children until the kids are in sixth grade, after which they typically meet in groups. They get paid roughly the same salary as starting social workers or teachers, and they usually stay on the job longer than they promise.
In Friends, most children can expect to have just three different mentors over the 12-year period. That provides a lot of time to build solid, trusting relationships — and research indicates that theduration of a mentoring relationship is critical to its success. (In fact, short term mentoring stints can be damaging to children who have already experienced many losses or disruptions.)
By catching children when they’re young, bringing professional rigor to the task (mentors receive pre-job training and ongoing support) and making a long-term, virtually unconditional commitment to the children — there’s almost nothing a child can do to get kicked out of Friends, short of carrying a gun and becoming a danger to others — Friends is working to shift expectations about the kinds of changes that can be achieved in a social program that targets children who face multiple risk factors.
Friends is not a large program, but it may soon become an influential one. It has worked with 1,300 children in Boston, New York, Seattle, Portland, and two other smaller communities in Oregon, Klamath Falls and Sisters. Almost all the kids live in poverty. Many have been uprooted numerous times, shuttled between foster care, relatives and shelters. Sixty percent have a parent who has been incarcerated; 60 percent were born to a parent who was a teenager at her first birth. In New York, about half had no caregiver employed during the past year. And yet, of the 140 youths who have completed all 12 years of mentorship, 85 percent have graduated from high school or received their G.E.D., 90 percent have avoided involvement with the justice system, and 95 percent have avoided early parenting — the program’s three main goals.
This is why the program has attracted the attention of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which has invested more than $3 million to evaluate its work with a randomized, controlled trial involving 262 children and families. Results have not yet been published, but preliminary findings after one year are promising.
“In terms of anxieties and depression, oppositional defiant behavior disorders, and rule breaking, we did find significant decreases looking at half the sample,” explained J. Mark Eddy, the lead researcher, who is affiliated with the School of Social Work at the University of Washington. Eddy noted that the biggest differences were seen among the children who were most at risk at the start of the study. “For kids who have gone through a lot of instability, this is a program that says, ‘Hey, we’re going to be here. We’re committed,’” he said. “And I think that consistency may be the difference.”
Talking Eyes Media/Copyright Civic VenturesCC Barber, Miss Oregon 2009, with Duncan Campbell, founder of Friends of the Children.
Friends was founded in 1993 by Duncan Campbell, a successful entrepreneur who had grown up in a rough neighborhood in Portland. Both of Campbell’s parents were alcoholics and his father spent time in prison. Campbell recalls waking up one night when he was 3 or 4 years old, unable to find his parents. Frightened, he got himself dressed and started walking down the street looking for them, until a policeman picked him up and located his parents at a nearby bar. “My home stunk, it was dirty. It smelled of cigarettes and alcohol,” he recalled. But Campbell had friends and they had nice parents and they helped him. “I loved going to my friends’ homes because they were filled with the smell of baked goods,” he recalled. Those relationships with caring adults, he says, were vital in shaping his world view — and giving him hope.
Before launching Friends, Campbell spent four years working in the juvenile court system. He saw that for all their authority and power, the courts could not guarantee that children had ongoing access to relationships with caring and responsible adults. That’s what he wanted to do. When he started Friends, he imagined that his biggest problem would be finding adults who would have the stamina for the job. “Forty percent of our kids are foster care kids,” he explained. “It’s an understatement to say that they are a handful. If a child is spitting at you, or calling you names, or saying they hate you, or refusing to look at you, will you hang in there?”
He was surprised to find that many people said yes. (In a recent job posting in Portland, Friends received 100 applications for two positions.) And mentors say that the attraction of the job is the opportunity to help children in a deep and meaningful way.
Friends has a structured screening process, involving multiple interviews and on the job observations, and its mentors have clear educational and social goals to meet (it’s not just playing ball, talking about life, and going on outings). But an essential factor remains their steadfastness. “We ask, ‘Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years?’” says Campbell. “Because if they want to become a football coach, they’ll be gone in a couple of years. And they’d be another adult who broke the kid’s heart, even if they’re committed. We’ve had to turn down some incredible applicants who couldn’t promise they’d stay.”
Read previous contributions to this series.
One of the reasons mentoring took off in the 1990s was the publication of a large study about Big Brothers Big Sisters which showed that mentoring over the course of a year or 18 months could help more adolescents avoid negative behaviors like drug and alcohol use, engaging in violence or disregarding school.
But another reason is that mentoring is attractive, both politically and culturally. Politically, it seems to offer a relatively low-cost, volunteer-based approach to social problems, which appeals to many conservatives. Culturally, it gives many adults an opportunity to serve children without requiring an overwhelming commitment of time.
In this context, Friends of the Children presents a different view of mentoring — an approach that might be termed “deep mentoring”: one that requires a professionally trained work force and is therefore more expensive — about $9,000 per child per year, as opposed to $1,200 a year for many larger or school-based programs. (Expensive is relative: New York State spends $210,000 a year for each youth held in juvenile prison — and 75 percent are re-arrested within three years of release.)
“The children selected for Friends aren’t just low-income,” explains Judith S. Stavisky, Friends’ National Executive Director. “Many of these six year olds have already surrendered hope that life can be different for them. They have already sustained untenable losses, and they are living in desperate situations requiring the attention of a paid mentor — because volunteer mentors would not be prepared to handle those challenges. By the same token, not every kid needs the kind of intensive, no-matter-what commitment of Friends.”
Right now, Friends relies on philanthropy for most of its support, but that is limited. For the program to reach significantly more children, its work would need government support. The question is: Will society be willing to pay $9,000 a year for professional mentoring for a child who needs it? On Wednesday, I’ll respond to readers’ thoughts about this question. I’ll also report on a conversation I had with a youth and his Friend, and cite an analysis about how much money society could potentially save by investing in more programs like this. (Hint: A lot.)
October 6, 2011
Have anything to celebrate this month? Well even if you dont, I strongly recommend taking a trip to your neighborhood specialty wine store and picking up a bottle of the 2008 Argyle Black Brut(sparkling wine). You might even need to drive out to Dundee and pick it up directly from the Winery's tasting room but that always makes for a great time anyway. That is exactly what my fiance and I did two weekends ago. It had been a while since our last trip into wine country and we were starting to get the itch for some tasting. After making the rounds at some of our favorite and familiar wineries we pulled up to the Argyle tasting
room for what was to be the main event. Now I must say that my fiance has a passion for the bubbly but I can also admit that I never miss a chance to enduldge. And if you are to drink sparkling wine, I think Argyle makes the best in the country, which should make Oregonians proud.
Many people know about Argyle and their mastery of sparkeling wine but I think the Black Brut is something both unique and special. What makes this sparkling wine stand out is that it is comprised of 100% Pinot Noir. Most sparkling wines or Champagne from the region in France are comprised of either a blend of grapes, or straight Chardoney aka a blanc de blanc wine. By blending Pinot Noir with other grapes the wine maker is able to balance out the flavor and texture of the wine typically resulting in a balanced dryer wine. The fact that this sparkling wine is made of Pinot Noir grapes creates an entirely diferent flavor profile. The wine is considerably more rich than a typical blend with berry fruit really exploding with every sip. The Black Brut is bold but not overbearing. The wine is cut nicely by the bubbles which creates a nice refreshing quality to the wine. With a reasonable pricetag, this wine can be enjoyed as a celebratory bottle or really anytime you get the urge for some bubbles, although I like to believe we can always find something to celebrate!
Matthew "The Oven" Levine
October 4, 2011
Residents of Portland learn to appreciate sunshine. Rain and clouds are staples of the Portland climate, so people are used to walking around in the rain (remember not to carry an umbrella unless you want to stick out like a sore thumb). However, there is always a destination in mind. Portlandians can usually be found huddled inside coffee shops, restaurants, and breweries during the extended rainy season. However, when the sun does peek out, the streets are immediately filled with crowds soaking in each ray they can. On a day like this, our office took a small break from sourcing technical candidates to enjoy one of the many scenic golf courses in the area. Not being golfers, Aaron (our music aficionado) and I decided to enjoy the sunshine in another Portland activity: eating at one of the boutique restaurants around town. The sun influenced our choice and we found ourselves at the tropical and exotic Mee Sen Thai Restaurant
. Mee Sen
is like many of the restaurants in town, in the sense that the owners try to give visitors a holistic authentic experience. Mee Sen
has an open garage-style door that allows the sun to shine in, and guests to walk in and choose their own seat. The seats are wooden benches, and the water cups are made to look like cheap tin cups. The idea of this décor is to make the restaurant seem like a road side restaurant in Vietnam. In my experiences around the world, the best food tends to come from simple road side venues. Although these additions do not enhance the flavors of the food itself, Mee Sen
definitely sets the tone of the experience with the design and décor. Mee Sen
has no need to try and fool their patrons into enjoying their food, as the meal we enjoyed there was amongst the best Thai food in Portland (which is saying something). Aaron had the Beef Pad Thai that he described as “outstanding,” as the flavors were balanced because the spices didn’t overwhelm each individual ingredient. This observation brings light to the fact that a truly great chef needs to understand a dish is made flavorful by intelligent moderation, not flooding the palette. My tofu Pad Kee Mao was also superb, and the ingredients were noticeably of a high quality. Before I left, I peeked at the happy hour and dessert menu. The reasonable prices and the exotic choices immediately piqued my interest, and I will definitely be visiting Mee Sen again as soon as possible. The restaurant is located in the culturally growing Mississippi Avenue district, and is open for lunch and dinner.
Ravi Parikh, Researcher/Bloat House Guide