Saturday, July 4, 2015

Career Transitions:

Career Planning Starts Early...

When I was about ten, I resolved that I would go to law school. I was drawn to it because it seemed ambitious, honorable and incorporated things I had grown to love at a young age - writing, thinking, and debating. I remember sitting at our old desktop computer, signing on to AOL and researching college majors as a middle-schooler, focusing intently on Political Science. Great, I'll do that. From there, everything fit into a grander context, a larger goal. I remember a project in Freshman Theatre when I debated that smokers should have the right to smoke in public places. I didn't stop to consider what I actually thought - I had a point to argue, so I logged hours in the library and equipped myself with the facts to argue something altogether unpopular. And we won. When I sat in eight semesters of Latin - six in high school, two in college - I knew it would help me understand Legal language. When I sat in the living room of my rental house in 2007 and received an e-mail from my Trial Procedures professor at Rhodes asking me to try out for Mock Trial, it sounded like a no-brainer. But I paused. The one thing that had continued to plague me as a student was public speaking, unless I could convince myself I was playing a role.  I remember being at my grandparents' house in Cordova for a routine birthday dinner and telling my Grandfather that I had been asked to join the team. He couldn't understand my hesitations. My Grandfather has always given wise counsel and I trust him especially on matters of ambition and development because of his background as a local entrepreneur. When I explained that the idea of public speaking kept me up at night, he responded, "Well then, that's exactly why you're going to do it." That meant one thing to me then than it does today. I signed up. I spent two years at Rhodes participating on the Mock Trial team as a witness at the National level. I went on to spend two years doing Mock Trial as an attorney during law school. I made friends, learned new skills and gained a tremendous amount of the confidence I was lacking. I think my Grandfather knew the opportunity would be worthwhile, and I am glad I was coaxed by the right person at the right time instead of letting intimidation get the best of me.
borrowed from whichever Mocker tagged me in it. Miss these guys! 

...And Never Really Stops...

Being a student was my only identity for the longest (13 years + 4 years + 3 years = 20 Years) How's that for Math? As it stands today, that leaves 8 years not in school. 5 of those years were the first  5 of my life. The other 3 have been the most recent 3, or Career Time.

Internships were the best idea during law school. I spent my first summer at Accredo Health. I spent the second at AutoZone. While there, I made friends as I rotated through Employment Law (shoutout Tanya!), Litigation, Real Estate and and Contracts/IP. I was able to recognize what I found interesting - Employment Law - and choose my electives accordingly for the final year of law school. The job market was not fantastic when I graduated. Through a connection, I was lucky enough to get a job with a local Real Estate Attorney. He was smart and a wonderful coach. I had no idea if I would like or be any good at Real Estate law. I tried to memorize the large stacks of documents and all the blurbs that the clients needed to hear about them all while seeming knowledgeable and competent, or what they call "faking it," because the truth is I had no idea what I was doing most days and my boss was very helpful and patient. I lost sleep the night before I told him I had accepted a job at AutoZone because, to me, he had invested a lot in taking on an associate. I still feel like I owe him a tremendous amount.

I had applied to be an HR Generalist at AutoZone, interviewed and accepted the offer. I was excited to have a salary, benefits and figure out what being an "HR Generalist" meant. You support different departments in the company from the perspective of recruiting, talent development, succession planning, engagement, performance and discipline. I supported Legal, Marketing and Store Development by the end of my time in this role. What an incredible opportunity! I met so many wonderful people, both on my team and in the departments I supported. I developed mentors, whether or not they know it. I was able to learn a lot about how the business decisions were made, and I will never take that for granted. There was a moment, however, when I had to ask myself what I wanted to happen next. Did I want to move up the chain in HR? Was I even capable of it? A few strategic conversations with a few trusted people led me to my answer, and I knew it was time for something different - Internal Audit. Do I have a Finance background, you ask?  I don't, but I hope to learn a lot about Finance on this journey. I had told a trusted co-worker that I wanted to be able to look at the company's policies and procedures and make recommendations for improvement, and she pointed me to some people in audit. I started last Monday, and I am so excited to learn the role.

It's About Having an Open Mind

The point is, at no point of my "career dreaming" as a child or throughout school, did I decide I wanted to be a Real Estate Attorney, an HR Generalist or an Internal Auditor. I didn't attack the real world with a concrete plan, and I think that has worked to my benefit. There are opportunities to learn everywhere, and I hate the idea of limiting myself because my degrees suggest I should be doing something else. For me, being a student is never-ending, and I have a lot I can learn about this wonderful company I am in and the amazing Finance minds who now surround me. Each executive that has spoken advice out loud to a group and each executive I research on my own time give the same advice - learn as much as you can. That's why I am here, and I am very curious where my journey will go next.

No comments:

Post a Comment

09 10 11 12
Blogging tips