“So, who wants to work for an insurance company?” asked Christie Gibson, Senior Manager of Marketing at Torchmark Corporation in McKinney. The question, directed at a group of junior and senior AVID students from McKinney North High School, was met with polite silence.
Clearly, these students had their career ambitions focused elsewhere. But, it was the response that Gibson expected, and the question was delivered to make a specific point: There are many twists and turns in today’s career path, so don’t dismiss an employment option out of hand. Consider all of the possibilities that any prospective business has to offer.
Torchmark, which has been a long-time supporter of the District, held a career day event last week to give students the chance to explore how various careers funnel into a large corporation and to impart some wisdom to help them navigate their future options. It was a chance for the North students to get an inside look at how a business is run, pick up some strategies for getting a job after college and to learn what to do in the meantime.
“As a junior and senior AVID teacher here at McKinney North High School, I think it’s crucial that our kids are looking at people in the actual business field,” said Adrian Holloman. “Not just specifically health insurance because the people [here at Torchmark] have a variety of backgrounds. They didn’t start out with the plan to do this job. They’re letting our kids know that they may start out in a certain major, but their major may not be what they end up making their career out of. So, I think that’s good. [Our students] are actually seeing people being successful doing something that they may not have thought they were going to do to begin with.”
During breakout sessions, Torchmark employees talked about their professional experiences. Scott Elliott, Vice-President of Information Technology, discussed his department’s role and the indirect career journey that brought him to Torchmark. In another session, Christie Gibson discussed the autonomy and creative space she and her marketing experts enjoy at the company. Paul Daily, Senior Director of Human Resources, offered practical advice about choosing a career and finding the right job. The highlights: Have a plan, intern at a job you are interested in (even if it’s free), watch how you use social media (because future employers are) and dress appropriately for interviews.
For North junior Marcus Greedis the day provided some useful insight. “I really like the way Torchmark seems more relaxed because I’ve always envisioned a corporate job being really strict, and it doesn’t really seem like they’re all about that. You have freedom.
“During the IT presentation,” he said, “I noticed that the main leader of that group didn’t go to school for, like, a really long time [pursuing multiple degrees]. He just had a bachelor’s degree and has been doing a lot of work since then. So, it’s more about your working experience and how hard you work [than it is about] titles.”
While a successful career path usually starts with a goal, a planned trajectory and a solid work ethic, it doesn’t always proceed in a straight line. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t end up where it belongs.
For the AVID students at McKinney North High School, the future is wide open and the possibilities are limitless. And who knows? Some of them may find their true calling at an insurance company.
Story submitted by Shane Mauldin, MISD