Reflections on 2016

I’ll be honest– I have a hard time knowing what to write for my blog. This year has been full of change I never would have anticipated. If there’s one overaching epiphany I’ve had in 2016, it’s that only I can create my own destiny. I tell my friends and family– probably to their annoyance– that they’re similarly charged with creating their own paths in life.

The precursor to this crazy year came in December 2015. I’d just informed my supervisor that I was not going to renew an employment agreement expiring in April 2016. At the time, my goal was to stay in the industry which I’d given my all to for almost 20 years. I’d worked my way up, making many sacrifices along the way, and wanted to continue reaping the financial rewards. I was desperately hoping to move to a larger, more progressive city and finally live “the dream.” However, I’d also become ready to be challenged in new ways; I was emotionally and mentally burnt out. It had been sort of a… slow burn. For years, I just wasn’t enjoying work anymore. I knew deep down inside that something needed to change.

Despite this gnawing awareness, I continued the search for the “perfect” job into the spring, but– because my profession was extremely specialized and there were literally only three or four people doing what I was doing in each major city– I had no luck. Each day became more discouraging until I finally realized I had to make some uncomfortable decisions. New job field? New city? Or… new degree?

After much soul-searching, I decided it was time for a fresh start in grad school. I didn’t like the idea of going into debt and “putting my life on hold for two years.” But I also loved the idea of being intellectully stimulated and pursuing a field that would better align with my personal and professional values.

I pondered. A lot. MBA? Social work? JD? (I had taken the LSAT years ago…) Online courses? In-person? Should I study where I want to live or focus only on the quality of the program? Decisions, decisions.

Then, I stumbled upon this link on OSU’s website. Human resources management? At first, I thought… mmm… maybe… kinda sorta. But I admit that my perception of HR was the common one– the paper-pushing, bureaucratic person removed from strategic decision-making. No, thanks. Then, however, I started investigating. Turns out… more and more companies see HR as leaders as key players in the strategic process– and they really like HR professionals with graduate degrees. I kept doing my research and kept finding myself more and more attracted to the field– and to OSU.

I applied for the MHRM program in June-ish and was accepted in July. I believe I was one of the last — if not the last– students admitted to the cohort.

Now that I’ve finished my first semester (yay!), I can truly say that going back to school and choosing this program is THE best decision I have ever made in my life. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I’ve met some of the coolest, smartest, nicest people. I’ve been challenged to think in new ways. I’ve been forced to think about my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. And most importantly, I’ve given myself the chance to start over and to– in the process– become a better person.

2017 should be just as great. I’ve accepted an internship with PepsiCo which I’m so grateful to have received– and am supposed to find out where it’ll be any day now.

The ride so far has been amazing!

Now… what are YOU doing in 2017?

Author: Tony Reed

Career "pivoter" becoming an HR management guru at tOSU