Welcome to our weekly "What I Do Wednesday" series where we highlight people in real jobs making real impact. If you're thinking about changing careers, this could be a great way to learn if a field is for you! Enjoy!
Alright Tammi, tell us a bit about your job/company:
I'm currently the HR Generalist for Logic, which is a vapor products/electronic cigarette company. Being a relatively new industry that gets a lot of attention, I find that people are very interested in and opinionated about it when I tell them where I work. This was definitely a factor I weighed when thinking about taking the role, but I'm so glad I did. Logic is an awesome company to be part of. I work with so many talented, dedicated colleagues, and I'm constantly challenged to learn and grow. No two days are the same, and that kind of variety really drives me and keeps me engaged.
How did you get there?
It was kind of a long, winding road to get here. You think about what your career path will look like, and in your head, you picture it like a straight line; in reality, it's basically a squiggly mess - but that's the fun part. I've been working for over 20 years now, which is hard to believe. My first job was in an ice cream shop, and it was really fun! My undergraduate degree is in Psychology, and I really wanted to just go out and save the world. I worked in mental health for almost 10 years - adult case management, youth case management, the court system... I even worked with juvenile sex offenders for a time. It was incredible work, but it's so easy to get burned out. There's not enough staff, there's not enough resources, compensation/benefits are pretty terrible, and safety standards are seriously lacking - myself and other coworkers were repeatedly put in danger due to the way we were expected to do our jobs. I ended up working with my HR team to try to make some improvements, but honestly, they just weren't willing to talk openly and make changes. That's what got me fired up and interested in HR as my next career, so I went back to grad school at Penn State to get my Master's.
I had a whirlwind of activity for a few years during my career transition: while I was earning my Master's degree, I opened a fitness studio with a business partner, completed a year-long certification in Health and Wellness Coaching, and took on some other internship and co-op types of opportunities, as well as 2 contract (temporary) jobs. When you're new in a field, you have to take the initiative to dive in and really just learn, so that's what I did. I didn't make a lot of money, but I gained tons knowledge and real-world experience. Then I worked for a year and a half at a small nonprofit as an HR Department of One, which I loved because HR was pretty much entirely up to me, for better or worse. Ultimately, I moved on because leadership there was pretty stuck in the "this is how we've always done it" mentality, and I wanted to be somewhere that was dynamic and progressive - that's Logic!
What do you love about your job/industry?
I love the strategic side of HR: getting to create a culture where employees can do great work, making sure that policy and procedure create the right kind of environment for the business, and making sure we're constantly growing and adapting. The best part of working in HR at Logic is having the ability to learn from what we've done, and then make changes to create something even better.
What’s kind of hard?
HR in general is hard, I think. We're a "back office" function, so we don't have the glamour of sales or marketing, and people love to hate HR. We're usually some of the smallest departments, but with so much heavy lifting!
Are there any preconceived notions you’d like to debunk?
I think people would be surprised to hear that HR people actually hate policy - we see firsthand that policing people with written rules gives rise to lazy managers and leaders, and to cultures of micromanagement. We don't want that! I'd also like to debunk the notion that HR people are the "fun police." We love to cut loose & have fun, we just want to make sure that no one gets hurt, sued, or harassed.
What advice would you give someone who is looking to get into your industry/job?
Do your time, and earn your career. You're not going to come out of school, even grad school, and be an HR Director. Schooling is great, but HR is a career that requires years of real world practice. A degree or certification means nothing without the experience behind it. Ask someone you know if you can pick their brain. Start networking. Take on a few short-term temporary roles; if you're having trouble getting an HR role, look for jobs with "assistant," "coordinator," or "admin" in the title. Be curious and ask questions. Don't assume you know the answer, or your answer is the right one.
Anything else fun our readers should know about you or your career?
Now that I'm settled into my role and schedule, I'm looking forward to taking on a side hustle - nutrition and wellness are my passions, and I used to do coaching, classes, and seminars. I'm excited to bridge that knowledge with my HR skill set to start working on some corporate health and wellness programming. I'll definitely be looking to side hustle gurus like you to steer me in the right direction on my evolution!