Employers mix passions and career paths

For Faith Ireland, working in politics was about trying to save the world. But her career path led her to kicking down doors on norms; she wanted to be a lawyer.

“Start with your passions, because a job is just a job, unless it’s where your passions are. That really takes some thinking on your part,” said Ireland, a retired Washington Supreme Court justice who currently works in law consulting.

On Nov. 19, the SPU Rotaract Club and the Center for Career and Calling gathered four speakers, each from different career walks, to help students learn more about possible career paths at an employer panel.

“This is a more intimate opportunity to hear more personal stories [from the panelists],” said Karen Altus, associate director of the Center for Career and Calling.

Joining Ireland was Zac Reichert, a human resource specialist at Amazon; Marie Kiekhaefer, associate product manager for Sporcle; and Jacki Lorenz, a development officer at the Millionair Club Charity.

The panelists offered insight into different career paths and employment opportunities. They also shared what college meant to them and how their degrees affected their future careers.

Kiekhaefer explained how she started out as an SPU freshman thinking she wanted to be an English teacher. But after graduating two years ago, Kiekhaefer decided to explore fields of study other than English.

“An important part of figuring out what you want is hearing yourself talk about what you think you’re going to do. Does this get me more excited or not? Don’t be afraid to change your mind,” Kiekhaefer said.

Kiekhaefer applied for the job at Sporcle and loved it, even asking for more hours and responsibility from her boss. She has held four job titles during her time there.

Ricker graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in psychology and a triple concentration in political science, philosophy and economics. He came to SPU to get his master’s degree in industrial organizational psychology.

“I got a job in corporate recruiting at Amazon two years ago through my friend’s parent’s friend, which goes to show you that you can get your job from just about anywhere you can get a foot in the door,” Ricker said.

Lorenz graduated from University of Washington with a Russian history degree and an education minor. After working a year at Garfield High School, she realized it was not for her.

“When people asked me what I wanted to do… I told my parents and their friends it was about the socialization process…It prepares you to work with all different kinds of people in this room—like the linear thinkers…and the wild makers…It allows you to deal with different people, to read people, to understand,” Lorenz said.

After this, she worked in many different places, including Bristol-Myers, Johnson & Johnson, Warner Medical and Key Bank. She has also worked for nonprofits.

“My mother jokes I started my career with A and ended with Z. I’ve had a very eclectic career,” Lorenz said.

Ireland received degrees in psychology and political science from UW and went on to get law degree from Willamette University College of Law. Though she says women could not be lawyers at the time, she believed her political connections would help her break into the field.

Ireland worked in a small firm law practice as a solo practitioner for 10 years. She was also appointed to the King County Superior Court in 1983 and went on to run for the Washington Supreme Court, winning on her second try in 1998.

Since her retirement from the judiciary, Ireland has moved into private practice consulting.

“My advice to you is to kick in doors, because even though you may think you don’t have to kick down doors these days, you do. It’s much more subtle,” Ireland said.

This article was published in print on Dec. 3. Due to technical difficulties, it was published online on Dec. 5.

This article was posted in the section News.

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