603 Spotlight: Krystal Hicks

Name:

Krystal Hicks

Current City/Town:

Portsmouth

Native City/Town:

Portsmouth / Dover

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

While I was born in Portsmouth, I actually grew up mostly in Dover. I graduated from Dover High in 2003, and attended the University of NH (UNH) until 2007 when I graduated with my BA in journalism. Since the Financial Recession was looming, and I was also still dealing with the aftermath of losing my dad unexpectedly, I decided to stay in the Seacoast and continue bartending in Portsmouth and Kittery for a year – my ultimate savior.

In 2008, with student loan payments nagging at me to “find a real job,” I found myself applying to anything and everything that required a BA degree. (Oh, the advice I would give myself now…!) I wound up falling backwards into an Administrative Assistant position within a temp agency – a field I had never even heard of – but came to LOVE.

After two years of playing corporate matchmaker between candidates and companies, I decided to leave staffing and move into career services where I could make more of an impact. I worked for Hesser College (now closed) who paid for my Master’s in Higher Education Leadership (thank you!), and then eventually took an Employer Relations role within UNH Career and Professional Success. After almost 4 years, and becoming the Director of Career Services, I was recruited (wooed?) by my favorite employer at the time, Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc. aka Lindt Chocolate.

As their Corporate Recruitment Manager, I oversaw all talent acquisition, employer branding, and “Lindternship” programming for their U.S. Headquarters in Stratham. Opening my own career counseling practice was always in the back of my mind, and after 3 1/2 years (and 220+ hires), my VP and team graciously supported my desire to go for it. In April of 2019, I hung up my corporate hat, pushed all of my chips into the pot, and took JOBTALK on full-time.

When I’m not providing one-on-one services to me job seeker clients, I’m either consulting for companies that are looking to modernize their recruitment strategy, or teaching my “College to Career” class at UNH’s Paul College. No matter how you slice it, jobs have always been my job. I scratch the journalistic itch by blogging, and lord knows my Liberal Arts education has shown up for me ten-fold when working with different organizations, but ultimately, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Why did you choose to stay in New Hampshire?

Originally I stayed because I’m from here and it felt supportive… and comforting. I was 20 (my brother was 17) when my dad died, and since he and my mother weren’t married at the time of it, I had to handle a lot of arrangements and probate requirements. Parallel to my childhood in Dover, I also grew up in Portsmouth with him, so moving away seemed like a lot after graduation. I love the Seacoast and all the ways it reminds me of him, but also reminds me of the support that I have here. Memories of picking up shells on the beaches in the summer, and drives up to the mountains to Santa’s Village or Story Land as a kid, are constant for me. I love New Hampshire. I don’t love the cost of living, but this State has a lot to offer young people who are trying to make something of themselves.

Why did you choose to live in your current city/town?

I have always bounced between Dover and Portsmouth, but Portsmouth offers me the downtown, coast, and vibe that I want. I have owned a home in Dover, and when push came to shove, I chose to move back to Portsmouth, even if that meant paying rent that was higher than my former mortgage. A good friend of mine said, “understand what you value” and that’s never left me. My decisions to pay more to live more minimally may not make sense to everyone, but I love being able to walk out of my door and smell the ocean. It feeds my soul in a real way… a way that more square footage, but off on a country road never will.

Photo by: Raya Al-Hashmi of Raya On Assignment

What would you say to someone that is considering moving to New Hampshire?

Love it for what it is, but bring your desire for change, because we are here for you! Let’s be honest. There are a lot of things New Hampshire is not. It’s not racially or socially diverse enough. It’s not super affordable for first time home buyers. It’s also outlandishly expensive for in-state college tuition. BUT… there are communities who want to modernize this state and many of us 30-somethings would love to radically improve how this state is viewed by others. There is a lot to love about our seasons, coastline, and our arts/music venues, but there is some FIRE in our young people here. I feel inspired every time I talk to people in our community who are pushing us as a state to be better, do better, and want better. If you bring that vibe to the table, you will be welcomed here with open arms.

Tell us some of your favorite places in the state or your region. i.e, restaurants, recreational or cultural activities, etc.

I love the Portsmouth Music Hall. I grew up there because my dad used to clean it between shows, and between his other jobs. Prescott Park Arts Festival in the summer has plays, festivals, concerts, movies, and more – and it’s right on the water. I also love driving up north towards Jackson. The mountains come up over the horizon and are downright humbling. One of my favorite activities is kayaking and paddle-boarding in the summer. I can walk to a marina and hop on a board for a few hours and lose myself in the river.

If money were not an issue, what would your version of a “perfect” day in the state look like?

I would rent out the Thomas Layton Steamship and throw a party on the river in Portsmouth. Live music has been hurt by COVID-19 so I’d invite all of the best local bands and get them on board and invite everyone I knew. (Of course this also assumes none of us have the virus. Jeez. Dark… I know.) That would be the best though. Music. Food. Dancing. On the water. I can’t wait for those days to return.

What do you believe to be the “New Hampshire” advantage?

Location. We have less craziness than the city (Boston), and yet we’re only an hour away. You can hop a bus or a train and be at a game or a concert and go big for the night, and then before you know it, you’re right back in NH.

Is there someone in the state that you would like to have coffee with? And why?

Not that I can think of. I know my way around the back-ends of LinkedIn better than most, so I’ve made most of those connections by now. Maybe the Governor though. We disagree on a few things, but I’d love to have a real conversation about alternative dwelling units (TINY HOUSES) and why this problem hasn’t been solved on a state-level by now. We need more affordable housing in this state or no one is going to want (be able) to live here.

Anything else that we may have missed that you would like to include?

New Hampshire is a state that has a lot of history, and I think many people feel like it has its personality already set in stone. I am starting to see that notion be challenged, and it excites me. My relationship with NH is an authentic one. I see it. I love it. But I will always want more for it. I think a certain dose of Darwinism is a good thing, and I’m glad we are starting to adapt to what a new generation of Granite Staters want from this state.

2017 Seacoast 10 to Watch

One Response to “603 Spotlight: Krystal Hicks”

  1. Travis BurnsJuly 15, 2020 at 2:40 pm #

    I found this organization through Nashua Chamber of Commerce and clicked on a random spotlight article and am super impressed with what stayworkplay is doing for the state and the quality of professionals from all fields showcased here. Thanks for inspiring New Hampshireans?? and maybe I’ll get my own showcase some day 😀

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