Going down memory lane of how the journey into HR began especially for someone whose background was strictly sciences. It really has been a journey of purpose, wits, and unending discovery.
How It Started
In my final year, while gearing up for the next phase of life, I knew I would be a fish out of the water if I ever settled for just anything with the B.Sc Industrial Chemistry qualification though I had very good grades. It wasn’t like I was not tempted to give in at some point or that I had it all figured out. On the contrary, it took a lot of soul searching, informed conversation, researching and by providence, an opportunity to work for an HR Consulting firm came knocking through the graduate finishing school I attended.
Guess what!!! I took the leap of faith. Yea!! I took the plunge with so much naivety and no one to hold my hands. I made up my mind not to be deterred by even the voices of loved ones telling me it was a trap that could stop me. I was not going to miss this opportunity to explore. I just couldn’t, I didn’t know what I wanted but I knew what I didn’t want.
Yay!! I have found love…
Just like every love story, the journey started out being eventful. I had moved into uncharted waters with my new found love and my salary of meagre ₦15,000 could not get in the way. I was ready to give it all it would take, I was not going to take anything for granted and I did just that! I learnt voraciously, asked pertinent questions from those I looked up to in the industry, attended training workshops, joined a community of professionals and got my hands dirty on the job exploring the different aspects of the HR value chain. I really just wanted to discover everything about my new-found love – HR.
Eight months into the journey, I wrote my first exam with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) all in a bid to get grounded in the HR field and I must say that was one of the best decisions of my career.
In no time, handling HR projects became very seamless for me. I enjoyed every bit of the experience until the grass was no longer green and I wanted more!!
The plot thickens!!
My romance with HR had a twist. Though I was still in love, the environment was now becoming toxic. My naivety came back to haunt me because, at the very beginning, I failed to ask some critical questions before taking the plunge as I felt I was being done a favour, thank God I now know better.
I hated my Personal Assistant Job though I was in an HR Consulting firm and this is because contrary to my expectation of handling HR-Business related briefs, my employer’s expectation of performance for me was totally different. It was more in the effectiveness of tending to matters that are personal and family-oriented but I honestly didn’t want any of that.
This became the beginning of many unpleasant experiences from emotional abuse to the threat of termination as every other HR-related task I performed excellently was discredited and truth be told, it is very difficult to thrive in such negative circumstances.
On the flip side, when I agreed to take up the job, I invariably pledged to accept all the responsibilities that came with it and even though I started without so much understanding of what I was getting into, it was still not an excuse and I really was not treated unjustly. It was just evident that there was a gap.
I took a decision no one else could have taken for me. I knew it was time for something more, something that will afford me the opportunity to express myself without any apologies and I didn’t have to endure any longer, I had to move on. Two months later, I landed my dream Job. I left consulting for another sector to gain hands-on HR experience.
Quitting when I did was another big win for me. I learnt a lesson that will help me all my life, I figured you really can’t do wrong being the CEO of your career.
The Journey So Far
Even though it did look like a trap initially, 5 years down the line, I am forever grateful for the Personal Assistant job that I hated because it brought me closer to purpose. It was indeed the preparatory ground that handed me the tools I would later need to be successful on my HR journey. It gave me a solid foundation in HR, making me more aware of what I didn’t want even when what I wanted was not exactly clear. It taught me to never give up on myself, never to allow people’s stereotype define or limit me. I learnt more than ever to believe in me and never to be apologetic about it.
From this experience and my regular interactions with job seekers, the need won’t go away to do something impactful for those coming behind so that they have less struggles as they navigate the next phase of life after school. The prevalent employability gaps have become very obvious to me and it breaks my heart to see a lot of young people trapped in this vicious cycle that could be avoided if they are well informed. That is why I birthed a Workplace Readiness Workshop tagged “Classroom to Corporate” and the first edition was a huge success with about fifty undergraduates (mostly final year student) in attendance.
Though still a work in progress, I am committed to being a handmaiden to many that need a hand to hold on the journey to a fulfilled life and career.
More than ever, I know HR is not just a career for me but more like a tool I leverage to simply live my best life and fulfill a higher purpose.