In 2016 I started my journey towards finding an I/O Psychology masters program. As of this past summer 2019, I’m officially a student in CSU’s Masters of Applied I/O Psychology. I’ve had a few people ask about I/O Psychology and how I came to this decision so here’s a bit of background.
A halfhearted MBA.
About four years ago I (halfheartedly) applied to LSU to get my MBA and was denied. Twice. Mostly I was rejected due to 1) my own inflated sense of self that they only really wanted my exorbitant executive level fees and 2) that LSU has a bazillion applicants and really doesn’t care about having one with an online degree. Snobs. Regardless, I’ve always yearned for the higher education. Some of it stems from proving that my undergrad (from University of Phoenix ten years ago – when it was new) really has worth, despite being an online college that suffered from accreditation issues. Also, specialization is where I imagined my career would go. But what to specialize in?
“Is this just a job for you?”
In 2015, I was asked to be on a leadership project with 20 other hand-picked, high-potential employees. It involved a 2 day informative get-to know-you, a team building exercise, and then given a strategic planning assignment, taking a specific facet of the company’s business and either increase sales, decrease expenses – one way or another making it better. It was a 4 months long process ending with a report and presentation that was very rewarding and I was overjoyed to do it. While it was hard work, I had amazing teams members and we had great feedback from leadership on what we delivered. This is the kind of stuff I get excited to do. Neuron explosions.
One specific member of the leadership team contacted me to discuss my participation and told me how impressed they were with my presentation skills. This is not something new to me. They stated that I was a natural talent in training and presenting and could have a great career in that and hoped to find a place within the company doing more of it. But then they said something that I didn’t expect, “You really seem much more qualified then what you’re doing… it just makes me wonder… is this just a job to you?” Gulp. How can that be possible? It made me realize that in some ways showing your talents and full potential can sometimes leave those wondering – why is she in that job?
Unfortunately people can’t see our intentions. And many didn’t know our ambition and plans for the future, especially our bosses for fear of looking like we’re moving upward and outward. I politely explained that my kid was still in high school at the time and that I do have plans for furthering my career just when the timing is right. The question haunted me. Like an arrow to the heart, it really pierced my conviction. Am I just working a job? Am I progressing?
My cynical nature scoffs when I hear someone say “Follow your passion” or “Do what you love.” But I know what excites me and I know what I dread doing on a day to day basis. After 15 years as a professional I needed to do some soul-searching to really find out – What do I want to be when I grow up?
Why are you in HR?
I went on a search to find people who are doing things that I find interesting and I could see myself doing them. I set up appointments with various owners of consulting businesses, executive leadership coaches, and fellow colleagues and friends. All of them were wonderful to take the time to meet with me and each of them had a unique perspective on how they got to where they are. Some stories involved taking “leaps of faith” with little money and dove into the career they wanted. Others would tell me it fell in their lap and they were “just lucky” to have been in the right place at the right time.
The Work Human conference in early May 2016 became my ah-ha moment. As an HR Generalist and with no authority over my company’s employee recognition program, my only real interest in attending the conference was to learn and network. During my networking I tried to engage in as many conversations on “what do you do” and “how did you get into that” with as many people as possible. When people asked about me I replied with “I’m a woman looking for the next big thing.” I went there with the intention of asking questions and gathering info. One thing rang true in many of my conversations “Why are you in HR?” Oh the irony of going to an HR conference and being questioned in such a manner.
Do the thing.
Ignite the neurons.