Working in Human Resources has been the most rewarding yet challenging role that I have ever had. Working in HR often feels like a juggling act between what is best for the employees, what is best for management, and how all that fits into an equitable work environment. To add another complex layer, I work in an industry where we hire approximately 500 seasonal domestic workers to spend a summer in Alaska processing fish. I find HR rewarding because I can help and develop members of the organization and even the organization itself! I also get to meet people from all over the country and help individuals in my native language.
Each year, I get to meet many individuals who are new to the fishing industry and many who are visiting the state of Alaska for the first time. Our employees are artists, students, caregivers, teachers, travelers, and formerly incarcerated individuals. From the interview process and small interactions throughout the season, I can see that the strong and hardworking individuals needed to complete a summer season in Alaska come from all backgrounds in different shapes and sizes.
The hardworking individuals aren’t just the individuals on the production floor, but they are my fellow members on the HR staff too. Some of my team members are new to Human Resources and being able to develop a team in such a unique environment is amazing. It is incredible to see the progress and growth of the people around me. I have interviewed and hired many of my coworkers as processors, only to see them help run the HR department by my side years later. While some members only stay in HR for a bit, their impact is certainly felt for a long time.
For a few years, I was the only Spanish speaker on the team. Growing up with parents who spoke little English, I know first-hand how important it is to have instructions explained in a familiar language. This has also helped me develop my own vocabulary when it comes to translating specific HR issues. It is rewarding seeing the relief on someone’s face when they know that they are speaking with someone that they can freely communicate with. This year, we even had three Spanish speakers on the team and are working towards having more bilingual members on the team.
As a manager, it is rewarding to be able to reflect on my last nine years at my company. There are countless small everyday interactions with individuals that challenge me and help me grow. I look forward to seeing how these interactions will continue to shape my experience in HR.
By #CougaMBAssador Carol Pérez