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HHS alumna Stacy Gudas addresses students during Academic Recognition Reception

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Monday, February 11th, 2019

Stacy Gudas (Consumer Science, ’15) addressed students during the 2019 HHS Academic Recognition Reception. Gudas was part of the student group that developed and organized the first reception 5 years ago.

Good evening!  My name is Stacy Gudas.  I graduated from Purdue in 2015 (Retail Management, Department of Consumer Science).  When invited to speak at this event, I was asked to share why the group I was a part of 5 years ago decided to start this event and to share a little bit about success in the “real world.” The good, the bad and the ugly.

To begin, how many of you have heard the quote, “Not all who wander are lost?” Now, I want you to remember this quote as we walk through my journey of “success” transitioning from college to the “real world.” 

My journey began in 2010 here at Purdue.  My majors were Retail Management and Agricultural Communication and as time went on, I ended up with minors in Communication, Organizational Leadership and Supervision, and Food and Agribusiness Management. My plan? To own my own bridal boutique or be a buyer for a retail company and eventually become an extension educator when I retired.

Throughout college, I was over-involved in extra curricular activities.  I loved the busy lifestyle. Many times, my advisor and mentor, Sally Harmon, would just ask how many extra credit hours I needed each semester.  As a freshman, I joined what we later named the Student Development Council where Sally was our leader.  She let us brainstorm, would brainstorm with us, and let us try new things.  Our mission was to strengthen the skills of the students in the Consumer Sciences and Retailing world. 

As part of this mission, the group decided to try a Dean’s Reception.  There was no promise of this being a hit, there was just the thought of students who had earned this honor to be recognized.  So, here we are today celebrating the academic accomplishments of all of you today!

Student enjoying the Dean's Academic Recognition Reception

Clearly, you all have figured out how to find success in college.  At least with grades.  Perhaps many of you have found success in your personal lives as well.  Friends, activities, happiness and how to balance all of that with school work.  So, what comes after college?

Everything we all expect! Job, money, success, happiness and no homework!  Right!? 

Kind of…

When I was in my last year at Purdue, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do.  When I came to Purdue, my plan was to be a buyer for a retailer or to own my own bridal shop.  I ended up doing a buying internship at Kohl’s and didn’t like it.  That being said, my dreams of being a buyer weren’t really my dreams anymore.  Part of me wanted to get my masters and PhD and be a professor, but I couldn’t decide what I would want to study so didn’t feel it was time yet.  And after a fifth year of school, I was ready to join my friends in the work world.

So, the November before graduation, I accepted a position with a host company that was part of a program called the Orr Fellowship, which some of you may be familiar with, or are planning to join following graduation.

Orr Fellowship is a 2 year post graduate entrepreneurial fellowship where recent graduates are hired by an Orr host company.  The idea is to foster entrepreneurship and give graduates exposure to executive mentorship and different parts of a business.  The Orr Fellowship part includes personal development, community networking and community service. 

These two years after graduation were some of the two most challenging, rewarding and educational years of my life.  While at Purdue, I maintained my grades, held leadership roles in several organizations, and had fun at the same time.  College was a successful time for me and I absolutely loved it at Purdue.  On graduation day I was excited… but I cried because I realized my time here was done.

3 weeks later, I started my new job in the “real world.” I hated it.  I was bored.  It was slow.  And I ended up doing tech, which I had never been a fan of.  My official title was Sales and Marketing Operations Manager. 6 months passed by.  I was frustrated that many of my friends loved their jobs… but I didn’t. What had I done wrong?  The worst part was, I wasn’t even sure what my passion was or what I wanted to do.  In the meantime, my boss had let me help select our next marketing automation tool that I would be in charge of setting up.  At about this time, I decided I was going to quit, regardless of the 2 year commitment I had made to the company and the Orr Fellowship. 

Then I remembered my boss had let me select our marketing automation software, so I decided I would just work really hard, get it set up in a month or two and get out of there….

Then plans changed…

I got the marketing automation platform set up and I didn’t want to let it go!  It was hard work!  Next, I was transferring over all of our sales content to the new CRM platform instead of the one we were using previously.  At this point, I was invested.  Next, I was asked to be the project manager for the construction of our new building.  Along with that, I was planning our company move. 

Around the same time, I was tasked with creating a new employee on-boarding program and training for the sales team on the software I had set up and was maintaining.  I was loving my job at this point.  And all of a sudden, I found that when I was building the employee on-boarding and training, I was having a blast and losing track of time.  I had figured out what I wanted to do!

As a result, I started working on my Human Resource Development Certificate at IUPUI while continuing to work.  After some time, I extended the certificate program to the masters program, which I was able to complete this past August.

My role became a lot of fun.  I was the subject matter expert in many different areas and was enjoying it!  Being tasked with creating marketing materials which I had limited knowledge about presented challenges that required me to research and find solutions for with little guidance.

Heather Dykes, Director of Student Success, and Stacy Gudas (Consumer Science, ’15), organizer of the first Dean’s Reception

The end of the Orr Fellowship came and I had talked a lot with my boss about what I wanted to do, which was learning and development or training.  I decided I didn’t want to stay at that company and made the jump to another company in downtown Indianapolis.  After much networking with those in the field I was interested in, I learned I would have to start as an HR Generalist before being able to attain the type of job I was looking for.  When searching for HR Generalist roles, the entry level positions I was trying to get all required 2 plus years of Workday experience.   How could I get 2 years of Workday experience?

I had spoken to a person who worked at a company of interest for my next role.  They put in a referral for me and I was later contacted by a recruiter.  I told him all of my hopes and dreams and the interview process started.  I was offered a position as a Workday Cloud Management Specialist.  In this position, I would get Workday certified as well as work in Workday all day, everyday troubleshooting and setting up enhancements for clients.  This was a great way to get the Workday experience I needed!

My day to day job was nonstop tech.  Not exactly what I hoped to be doing, but it was a step in the direction I wanted to move toward and I knew I was getting experience that would be helpful in the future.  The people I worked with were great and I was having a lot of fun for the most part. 

While in that role, I continued to network and search for openings for positions that were more closely aligned with my passions.  This past May, after being with that company for 11 months, I received an offer at the organization I am currently employed at as a trainer.  In this position, I have been able to help develop and deliver content to those who need the training to do their jobs more effectively.  The content is constantly changing and challenging, I am constantly learning and I get to teach and help people.  This role is what I had been searching for the past 3 years.

So, my advice as I leave you today: if you know exactly what you want to do, find a role doing that and love it right away, good for you!  That’s great!  If not, be patient.  Give things time.  Try different things, because sometimes those who wander are lost.  It doesn’t mean you will be lost for long, but instead will provide you the opportunity to try new things, to challenge yourself, and even meet some great people along the way.

Success doesn’t always mean you graduate, make money, and love your job right away.  Sometimes success is finding things you don’t enjoy, experiencing roles that make you unhappy, and finding a way to make it work, learn from the experience, and get better from it.

I share this with you because that wasn’t always my outlook on my first post-college job.  When I took my second job, I knew it wasn’t the end goal, but I knew what I was working toward.  The perspective you approach things with makes the biggest difference.  Appreciate the people you work with, approach situations with the mindset, “What can I learn from this?,” and keep in contact with and don’t forget your mentors.  You can try to do this world alone, but it is a much more satisfying route when you go through your journey with others.  And sometimes your mentors can point out things you might not have realized on your own.

So, as you continue on your journey and I continue on mine, remember that not all who wander are lost and even if you happen to be lost for a while, keep wandering.  Because sometimes those who are lost and wandering, end up finding their own definition of success. 

Selfies with Dean Marion Underwood
Selfies with Dean Marion Underwood