Finding My Place in the World and the Courage to Pursue It
by Jackie Barrett, MBA ’17
Whether I was interviewing an executive or pulling retention data this summer, I knew from my Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) Immersion experience that I had acquired all of the skills that I needed to succeed and in a role directly tied to the people of a company.
“I don’t know, people?” I said, not really sure how to answer. It was the first day of the SGE Immersion and, in an attempt to get to know us (and likely keep us awake), the professor was leading an ice-breaker game that involved finding things that we had in common with our peers based on a given theme and announcing our commonalities. The last round required us to form groups based on our specific interest within sustainability, and I found myself sitting alone, not sure how to define that interest — I care about people and making the world a better place for them, but how does that tie into my career?
After a long recruiting season spent trying to define my interests, I found myself in exactly the right place for me — an HR Development Program internship at McKesson. If you had asked me a year ago where I would spend my summer, a Fortune 5 company would have been the last thing to come to mind; however, McKesson turned out to be the perfect fit for me. McKesson is a healthcare company that invests in better health for its employees as well as the larger community, and getting to spend my summer working on a strategic HR project allowed me to be a part of making the company work better for its employees. It seemed like I had hit the jackpot — as a career switcher, I managed to find a role, company, and industry that I could really connect with on the first try. The culture at McKesson is very relationship-based and team-oriented, and I had opportunities to volunteer as well as produce an actionable recommendation on my project — all experiences I found very valuable.
Spending the bulk of my summer on a compensation project allowed me to test many of the skills that I had learned at Johnson — from spreadsheet design to presentation skills — but above all, the skills learned in the SGE Immersion proved most useful. Compensation is a very data-driven field, but there was no existing data on the project that I had been assigned while at McKesson. Luckily, I had experienced a very similar problem in my SGE project and had learned how to work creatively to define metrics and collect my own data in order to build a recommendation, as well as how to interview stakeholders to get their insights without causing alarm.
Most importantly, however, the SGE Immersion helped me to find my place in the world and the courage to pursue it. The treks to different companies allowed me to broaden my understanding of opportunities in business and working with my amazing cohort helped me to deepen my understanding of myself. Whether I was interviewing an executive or pulling retention data this summer, I knew from my SGE experience that I had acquired all of the skills that I needed to succeed, and in a role directly tied to the people of a company, at that. In light of completing my internship, I can answer that first question from immersion boot camp with greater confidence. Today, “I don’t know, people?” has become “strategic HR for a company that I feel makes the world better”— an answer that may not yet be perfect, but it’s a clear enough career vision for me to follow, and that’s all that I really needed.