Many people’s careers follow a predictable pathway. They begin working in a certain industry right out of college and work their way through the ranks, trying new positions out along the way. But this isn’t the case for everyone – others seem to stumble into their current jobs, never really expecting to wind up there. As Karen Stukes learned, that’s not always such a bad thing.
Years ago, Karen worked at McMillan Publishing in New York as an executive assistant to the president. During her time there the company was faced with a lawsuit and an investigation determined McMillan needed to hire more minorities in entry-level positions. The company asked Karen to help them solve this issue by taking on a new position. She began working as a college recruiter, traveling to historically black colleges and universities looking for potential new employees to hire in entry level positions at the publisher.
Throughout this experience at McMillan, Karen worked closely with an HR representative from the company. The exposure to human resources through the recruitment position led to Karen developing a strong interest in HR. Karen then left McMillan, pursuing her interest in HR and beginning her career in the field. She first worked at a small consulting firm coordinating human resources before moving on to work at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) in downtown Baltimore. At UMBI Karen worked in several different HR capacities for eight years before she took a job as operations manager at Towson University in June 2009.
In her role at Towson, Karen is in charge of personnel transactions for all employees, including data entry for regular and contingent employees. Karen manages a team of six to ensure this work is accomplished. Each person is responsible for data entry of different divisions throughout the university.
In addition to managing data entry, Karen is responsible for improving processes and systems in the department. It’s her job to streamline processes so they are faster and more efficient. Currently, Karen is working with the Provost’s Office on converting the contingent renewal process into an electronic process, as well as creating a new electronic processing system for faculty contracts. These are just a few of the projects Karen finds to be the most rewarding part of her job.
“I like changing processes to make them more efficient and effective. It helps out everyone that uses that process,” Karen said. “I really enjoy working with my staff members and employees in different departments, like OTS and the Registrar’s Office, during the streamlining process and relying on their input and suggestions.”
In the end, Karen is grateful for the series of events that have led her to HR. Since she’s started in the field she has truly learned to love the work she does and feels that she’s found “her niche,” which not everyone is able to say about themselves.