Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from college. In this series, our employees share insight and advice from their lifelong learning journey.
We caught up with Yaquelyn Sanchez, Operations and Recruiting Manager for our Miami team. Here’s what she had to say about her lifelong journey to keep learning:
#1 – When we talk about learning, people automatically default to their college degree and university education. What did you study in school and how does it correlate to your job today?
My college experience began as an architecture major. After taking numerous classes that I didn’t find exciting – from learning about different types of sand and how to compact it to how many nails are needed for a 2×4 piece of plywood – I swiftly realized my love for architecture stemmed from drafting, not building.
Shortly after, I was laid off from my drafting job. And, unknown to me, my next job would change my life.
Needing a job, I took the first position offered as a recruitment coordinator for a large cruising company. That inspired me to switch my major to human resources and I ultimately graduated with a Master of Science in Human Resources Management. I started that journey in 2004 and have since worked in numerous HR specialties for large and medium-size companies.
Throughout my professional life, my learning has been through on-the-job training, on-my-own-time research and college.
#2 – What type of continuing education or further education have you completed to keep your skills current in the marketplace?
After completing my master’s degree at Nova Southeastern University, I continue to stay informed about the latest in my profession as a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). I regularly receive and research articles and blogs on HR topics, as well as continue my education through certifications.
SHRM not only provides professional empowerment articles but also features inspirational pieces. One of my favorite inspirational articles was one I recently read by Achal Khanna, SHRM’s CEO, about Empowering Women During International Women’s Day 2018. This made me think of all the women that inspired me, including my first one ever – my mom.
#3 – What key skills did you learn in your first position that has stuck with you throughout your career?
One of the key skills that I have learned throughout my career in HR has been the power of conversation. Speaking with thousands of people throughout my career, I’ve come to understand that learning a person’s journey helps you see the full picture far better than simply dissecting a piece of paper, like a resume.
For example, a while ago I gave a piece of paper a chance and spoke with that author. The piece of paper demonstrated a large gap of employment. When I asked about the gap, his response was inspiring. He had the ability to take some time off to travel the world to learn new cultures, techniques, technologies, and more. He kept up with his skills by taking consulting jobs from time-to-time throughout his two-year sabbatical.
Ultimately, I decided to move him forward in the recruiting process because he blended with our culture by showing honesty and flexibility as well as the desire to continue learning, even if unconventional.
Another strong skill that I learned early on in my career, and practice regularly, is investigation. My goal is always to dig a little deeper in getting to know a person – or ask one more question about a topic – to build the case for how well-rounded the individual is, not only professionally but personally.
#4 – How have you found mentors and coaches throughout the years? How have those relationships transformed over time and what have you learned from them?
Mentors have come to me in an organic manner. The best mentor that I had was the one person who told me that I could not be a recruiter.
Most people wouldn’t consider that to be a mentor, but for me, this person lit a fire under me with that little word “No.” This person may never know that they motivated me to be the best at my profession, but I know. I know the hard work that I have put into the profession and I am proud that I never let that word stop me from achieving my goals.
# 5 – What has made the biggest impact on your lifelong learning journey over the years?
The biggest impact on my learning journey has been getting older. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood, I did not value learning or education nearly as much as I do now. But the older I get, the more I realize that learning can be fun, both professionally and personally.
The habit that I enjoy is reading one blog or article daily, sometimes more than one. This blog or article is not always directly tied to my career path or profession, but may help me learn and expand in other areas of professional interest or personal growth.
#6 – How have you made sure to continue your learning and development throughout your career? Do you have set daily or annual learning goals?
My personal goal is to read one blog or article each day – sometimes more than one, if time allows. In just a few years since I created this habit, I can already see the difference it’s made in my life. It has helped me significantly grow my knowledge, in my career and with my children and family. Also, sometimes it ignites new passions, encouraging me to research and learn even more about that topic.
A new passion of mine is learning about nutrition. Who knew there was so many wonderful benefits from eating a particular fruit or vegetable? This passion was ignited when I read 9 Benefits of Maca Root (and Potential Side Effects). This cruciferous vegetable, relatives to broccoli, may improve our learning and memory function. Cool, right?!
#7 – What inspires you to keep learning?
My inspiration comes from being able to have logical conversations with people across multiple disciplines.
No one knows all, but we can know a little of all. For example, I live in a neighborhood surrounded by politicians, so knowing a little about the issues of our town is important to me, and I make a point of watching the monthly council meetings to stay informed.
Also, I have small children, so being aware of things like educational requirements and social issues is important to me to help my children navigate childhood.
It’s all about seeking to grow your knowledge and learn more than you know today. Learning can come from speaking with others – neighbors, friends, family members and colleagues. Not all learning has to come from a book or the internet.