Are you a Jedi or a Sith? The Time is Now
This article originally appeared on Thrive Global…
Imagine growing up in town left behind, caught in economic depression since the 70’s. That was Scranton, Pennsylvania. For me, movies took me to place far away, with inspiration and dreams of what could be. My parents sacrificed so much to put food on the table, provide me and my sister all the education they never received, and to keep the lights on. My parents faced layoff after layoff, strikes after strikes for not having “the right skills” to keep us afloat. Union organizations hindered by corruption lost sight of actually helping employees in their careers and came tumbling down. They stopped putting people first. The sky was often gray in Scranton - not by the decades of coal mining, but due to good people being unable to work. Gray-Heart replaced Black-Lung.
I watched and witnessed both of my parents as union stewards fight for employee rights, wages, and benefits. I remember their unfailing phone calls end in tears, anger and frustration. But they pushed on to educate my sister and me. And they did so without college educations, without companies investing in them, and without the help of others. They might as well have been on Tatooine. Why? Because good people sacrifice everything to give their children the better lives they couldn’t have.
My sister and I got the education we needed to succeed and were able to leave Scran-tooine (this is a Jedi story) to further develop ourselves, but at a substantial cost to my parents. My father worked 3 jobs just to put us through Prep School. To help out, I aided my mother with ongoing tests at her job at Bell Atlantic to get further in her career. She had no other options. I don’t know if you can imagine the insanity of the daily stress. It led to chronic infighting that destroyed us as a family.
Leaving Scran-tooine seemed like opportunity of a lifetime. I got out. I was educated, with a Bachelor’s degree and ready to go. The towers went down the year I graduated - May 2001 from Saint Joseph's University. I was in debt even though my parents broke their back and I had scholarships. I believed I was a force to be reckoned with. But it wasn’t enough.
Turns out, I was unemployable. I did not yet have the skills needed for the job market - sound familiar?. So, I went back to Scran-tooine , and much like my dad got 3 jobs and went to the Liquor Store to buy a Blue Label Whiskey. I am not a whiskey drinker, but the Jesuits, you know the ones that look like Ol’ Ben Kenobi, at the University of Scran-tooine were. I drove up to the university, spoke with a few Jesuits and got into graduate school without taking the GRE’s. Hey, why not? I was already in debt but I still believed that education was my key to success, so I went all in. I worked 3 jobs much like my dad did a long time ago - tutoring kids, waitressing & bartending, and working at Lackawanna County in the HR department, which, by the way, was very lively! They had a ton of union contracts up, and meditations and arbitrations were daily. I went to school full time, taking 7 classes a semester to graduate in 1 year and begin my career, again. You would’ve wanted to leave Scran-tooine that quickly too. I did it, now 75K in debt and believing that the Force was with me, I moved to Boston the following year, where I landed a job in my first week.
We were still in a recession, but I figured it out and managed to get into a great company. My profession was HR, not the administrative legal mitigation type though, I chose it to help, not just administer, people. I saw HR differently.
My first calling may have influenced my HR approach as HR was not my first calling - medical school was. Upon going to Saint Joseph’s I saved my neighbor from a stroke and did CPR using my lifeguarding experience. Loving that I saved someone, I was accepted into the accelerated program between Saint Joseph’s and Thomas Jefferson Medical School in Philly to make my dream happen! After losing a friend in college the medical field escaped me. I couldn’t enter into something that I could not fix or save literally in this sense. So, out with Thomas Jefferson and in with HR. I had always worked throughout college to lessen the burden of the big bill to come and I had the ability to work for a company in HR throughout my schooling at SJU. It was a good company. It was a tech company and they advanced the many young talent to accelerate themselves and for us to accelerate ourselves. I was part of an acquisition at the ripe age of 20 and I will never forget the words the CEO said at that time. “This acquisition will help us and we will help you. Do not fear losing your job, embrace the opportunity.” And they did that and now are one of the biggest megacompanies in media. Kinda like the rebel alliance.