Baltimore’s iconic Berger cookie inspires a career move

Born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey, I never thought something could ever rival the famous Black & White cookie. The mix of chocolate and vanilla icing lightly covering an oversized cookie bed made for an enormous smile in my childhood.  Today, Black & White cookies can be bought as easily in the 5 boroughs as in Los Angeles or Miami.

However, a couple years ago I was introduced to something that changed my mind: the Berger cookie.  I remember my induction several years ago when a good friend of my sister-in-law put them in front of me and said, “You have to try this.  It is some of the best Maryland has to offer.” She was right, and since then, I have never turned back.  Whenever I need a “chocolate delivery vehicle”, according to a food blogger quoted in the article, I naturally turn to Berger cookies. When we want to bring a sweet to a friend’s house, the Berger cookie is now the natural choice.

The Washington Post, “Baltimore’s storied Berger cookies have come to Washington,” on April 19, 2012, tells the great history of this cookie and how it has migrated into the Washington, DC area.   The author questioned whether the cookie would succeed in its new market (Washington, DC) given its different consumer demographic who focuses more on healthy eating.  Using a strategy of focusing on Giant supermarkets to gain a foothold in the DC market, the Berger cookie will be expanding to other retailers in the DC metro area as it gains recognition and popularity.

The Berger cookie’s pivot and entry into the DC market through a recognized retail channel gives a great framework for those who are seeking either to move to another city or switch careers.  Here are some tips to bring the best of the Berger cookie into your career:
• Local Market Intelligence – The best way to get up to speed on the market where you are considering moving to is to start reading what the locals read.  One of my favorites is provided by American City Business Journals which covers 40 US cities on all the local happenings in their business communities.  I am in Washington, DC and love reading the Washington Business Journal. I know people who are getting promoted, companies hiring/laying off/moving to new space, and key events across sectors.  Additionally, their book of lists gives me the scoop on local companies that are in sectors of interest.
• Be aware of the customers who value your skills – The Berger cookie did not change who it was because it was moving to the DC market.  It was selective in the customers who would value what it had to offer.   As you move to a new city, there might not be a true “apples to apples” transition, in terms of role, industry and opportunity. By understanding what the local market values, you can map your skill set to what customers (e.g., hiring executives/managers, talent acquisition professionals and recruiters) deem important.
• Engage local alumni via informational interviews – Once you have a sense of the industries that are most interesting to you, then reach out to alums for informational interviews.  Engage them humanely, respect their time and thank them for their insights.   If you are looking for ideas on questions to ask in an informational interview, feel free to view at my webinar “Interview Like a Talk Show Host – Land the Job”.
• Find your Giant supermarket – There will likely be “channels” (e.g., events, gatherings, meetings) that bring together the people who can help you to meet your career transition goals. Listen for these opportunities and ensure to attend those meetings. Through frequent attendance, you will be in a great place to understand the issues of the industry and recognize how you can help solve their problems.