How Hating Houston Lead to My Most Fulfilling Career Choice

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As kid, I always had an interest in hair and beauty (I told my dad I wanted to own a hair salon), fashion and apparel (I had an obsession with how clothes were constructed but wasn't disciplined enough to learn to sew) and a knack for the arts (you name it - music, history, dance, pop culture - they all came so naturally and felt so interesting) but none of these things felt like a path to a career. My parents, who were absolutely wonderful in guiding me toward success couldn't dream a creative dream for me or foresee a path where I could use these interest and talents to work in a technological world that didn't yet exist. So, as pro-education, risks averse people with degrees on degrees in Accounting and Finance, my black parents raising a kid "for the 99 and 2000's" *in my Juvenile voice*, guided me toward what was safe and certain.

I went to a Magnet High School focused on Science, Technology and Math. I was tracked for the Medical Field per the recommendation of my parents and following the footsteps of my older sister (who is now an attorney - lol) but was never really engaged in any of the coursework despite being good at math and science. I did what I needed to get by, made good grades and threw myself into extracurricular activities. I eventually thought I'd go into Public Health, which shifted to an interest in Public Relations. So, when I applied for college, that's what I was pursuing - a degree in Public Relations *face palm*.

I never thought I would move to Seattle, or Houston. I always wanted to live in NY -which I still might, but missed the opportunity to do so when it was time to go to college.  The parentals strongly suggested I attend North Carolina A&T, instead of NYU or Spelman where my 17 year old self wanted to go. The first of many choices in a series of decisions, I thought would be bad but ultimately worked out for the best! Before I started school, I changed my major from PR to Economics. That lasted a year...at the end of which I took an internship at Lehman Brothers, Inc. who would eventually go bankrupt about 6 weeks after my internship ended. I came back to school and promptly switched my major which is how I ended up with a degree in Supply Chain Management. I didn't know at the time what that was, but felt good about my decisions because the curriculum was only 3-4 courses different than the Economics degree I was transitioning from and I wouldn't lose any time on my coursework. Super strategic - right? It also didn't hurt that 100% of the students in that major were receiving funding - talk about a come up!

At the end of my first year as a Supply Chain major, I took an internship with Harley Davidson. I worked for a full 6 months in Milwaukee, as a Supply Planner buying widgets for custom vehicles. I didn't like it at all, but learned a lot! This is where I was introduced to the idea of a buying office and pursing a retail career. From there, I went back to school on a mission to take as many classes as I could related to retail and fashion...oddly, in the school of business, there were none. Everything lived in Family & Consumer Sciences and was technical- like textiles or sewing. Luckily having a business degree and extensive internship experience, proving my comfort with numbers, landed me an entry level job as an Executive Trainee at Belk Stores, Inc. in Charlotte. From there, I eventually applied for a job in Virginia with Stage Stores. But, Stage called me to share they were no longer hiring for roles in VA, asking if I had any interest in moving to Houston - which I didn't, but I took the interview and eventually took the job.

Houston was my first time really living away from home. I had always traveled for short stints, or gone to programs with an end in sight, but this was my first experience starting over with no deadline to return to the people and places that created my identity. I grew a lot and made a ton of mistakes. Through that, I grew a strong dislike for the city, it's pot holes, weather and lack of public transportation. By the end 2014, I would have left for any reason, so when a friend and mentor reached out to me about coming to Amazon, I took the leap! I knew nothing about the Amazon Fashion business, had no foresight on the business exploding and wasn't smart enough to see how beneficial that step in my career would be three years later. I literally left because I didn't want to live in Houston anymore. Oddly enough, in retrospect I view my time there fondly and would go back in a heartbeat!

I share this twisted turning story to say pursue your passion and stay open to opportunities as they come. I had no idea as a 17 year old living in NC, pining after NY  studying Medicine and Biotechnology that my experiences and career would lead me here or that the chemistry I learned in that phase of life would inform my understanding of textile properties. I couldn't have guessed that learning about the five modes of transportation would be useful as a buyer or for developing PO processes at my company, nor did I think that my job at Harley-Davidson working on motorcycles would introduce me to an entirely knew industry that could unite all my education, interest and passions. The point is: You don't know what you don't know. So when your parents suggest something lame, or a teacher tells you about something to read or a friend shares a "random" article....take it all in because it's all a part of the path. When it comes to your career and personal development, more is more, so be open!